Importing Cuban engineers is short-sighted - CESA

Consulting Engineers South Africa (CESA) is appalled and shocked by the actions of the Water and Sanitation Department who are importing 35 Cuban engineers, seconded to South Africa for a two-year term to share  their expertise with their counterparts in the South African water sector.

Their arrival follows a bilateral agreement between South Africa and Cuba concluded in 2014 for co-operation in the fields of water resources management and water supply. Among the recruited Cuban specialists are: Civil engineers, Electrical engineers, Mechanical engineers, Irrigation and drainage specialists and Hydraulic engineers.

CESA President Abe Thela warns that this practice is a worrying trend since Cuban engineering skills are not recognized by the Engineering Council of South Africa because they are not part of the Washington Accord that governs international engineering qualifications.

"Our member firms are currently only being 60% utilised and have 40% spare capacity while they are waiting for the Government to bring projects on stream," cautions Thela.

It has been a sore point for CESA that the three levels of government have acute shortages in the area of technically qualified managers. Bringing in non-English speaking Cuban engineers is not a long term solution, since they will be here for only two years.

"Our suggestion is that Government makes use of South African engineers and consulting engineering firms to address this acute shortage of skills in the public sector. CESA has over 500 member firms that are qualified, professionally registered and have high ethical standards and integrity to accelerate the development of infrastructure and in particular assist in the development of competent municipal engineers in the long term," says Thela.

He adds that bringing Infrastructure Development projects on stream will create more jobs, enable experiential training and accelerate service delivery imperatives.

CESA with the backing of its member firms recommits itself to partner with Government and other key role players in finding lasting and practical solutions, especially in relation to infrastructure development.