The announcement of South African Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi on the appointment of a new Engineering Council of SA (ECSA) has been questioned by engineer organizations in the country.
Though the new council is said to create a higher representation of women‚ technicians, and youth in the country, the opposing organizations—led by the South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE)—claim that the changes potentially jeopardize safety standards. Now, they are taking their concern to court, alleging irregularities in the appointment of the 50-person council last September.
The organizations pointed to the lack of integrity in the process of the council’s appointment. Specifically, they stated that it opened the door to people who are unknown to the industry and gave them unwarranted influence over the profession. According to SAICE‚ the move is illegal and weakens the profession in terms of quality and safety. SAICE CEO Manglin Pillay commented:
“By undermining the quality of oversight of engineering practitioners in SA‚ the entire pipeline of engineering infrastructure services‚ manufacturing and production will be at risk.
“This could potentially result in the health and safety of the public being placed in jeopardy.”
Aside from this, senior industry professionals warned that ECSA is now at risk of lessening the strength of peer-review mechanism as part of its registration process. As it is pointed out, peer review is a very important prerequisite for the country to retain its commendation by the International Engineering Alliance.