Pretoria – The government would have to reschedule its R482 billion infrastructure projects pipeline and ensure the built environment had electricity capacity at particular times to ensure delivery took place, the SA Association of Consulting Engineers (Saace) said yesterday.

Graham Pirie, Saace’s chief executive, said the government was fully aware of this.

However, Felix Fongoqa, Saace’s president, said much of the government’s infrastructure expenditure was committed and “is not going to be significantly impacted by the current electricity crisis”.

Fongoqa said Eskom’s power generation crisis was having a major effect on the economy. The consulting engineering industry was continuing to play a big role in assisting Eskom in dealing with some of its problems.

Pirie said that without trying to underplay the severity of the Eskom crisis, hardship focused the mind and perhaps it was time “we had the wake-up call, because it makes us think in new dimensions”.

Cavendish Square in Cape Town had been able to reduce 30 percent of its electricity bill just by changing to energy-efficient globes, he said.

“I think we’ve had our minds focused by the current crisis. It’s opening up a new way of thinking, certainly for political decision makers and for us to articulate the agenda in understandable terms to the decision makers.”

Fongoqa said the skills shortage was the biggest issue that might limit the industry’s ability to refurbish, maintain and develop infrastructure. It was also an international problem.

The labour market was being pushed to its maximum to maintain the 4.5 percent to 5 percent growth rate the country had experienced in the past four years.

“Infrastructure spend over the next three years has now escalated to R482 billion and as a percentage of gross domestic product [GDP] has grown from some 15 percent in 2002 to 22 percent currently,” explained Fongoqa. “The government’s target remains at 25 percent of GDP and this is likely to occur sooner than later.

“The Fifa World Cup and the capex [capital expenditure] programmes of Transnet and Eskom in particular are placing a huge demand on the industry to grow.”