Land Surveying from Marwa’s lenses

G. Marwa Land Surveyors have in a short space of time become a professional land surveying firm serving the Namibian people and its landscapes.

From Ongwediva, Eenhana, Ondangwa, Omuthiya, Oshikuku, Outapi, Tsandi, Okahao to Ruacana, G.Marwa Land Surveyors is now more than just a figurehead.

“We have also done for private developers such as Elisenheim and Lafrenz for Trustco. On Topographical Surveys, we have done several aerial surveys for planning purposes. In Engineering surveys, we have done many roads and the longest we hav e done so far is the Gobabis-Aranos via Aminius road,” says director and founder Gibson Marwa.

A former lecturer of the then Polytechnic of Namibia now, NUST, Marwa has over 10 years’ experience in Namibia’s engineering and cadastral surveying.

He adds, “I wouldn’t say our style is unique to the rest. Land survey work is done according to laws and the accuracies as well as procedures are spelt out clearly in those laws which govern the way land should be surveyed in the country.

However, I must emphasise the fact that land survey, unlike other professions requires one to be strong in both field work operations as well as office work operations. One has to be a guru in both. Field work is sometimes frustrating for many. It involves working outdoors, we talk of Namibian heat in summer, climbing mountains to go survey the trig beacons, and many other hard conditions which are associated with outdoor conditions.

A land surveyor does not need to be a good driver, but an exceptional driver because some terrains in Namibia are not for those with driving phobia. So, a combination of all those factors as well as top of the art equipment makes one effective, thereby meet client targets at minimal costs.”

As the world now moves into the era of the ‘iconic building’ and the ‘starchitect’, G. Marwa Land Surveyors are looking to be the next Bilbao through technological advancement. Land surveyors have to emulate technology, he argues, but if one keeps trend, it might mean forking out a lot of money which one might fail to recoup from the payments of services rendered.

At the same time ignoring technology will be shooting one’s self in the foot. So, to be effective, one has to keep a balance, he maintains, adding, one can’t buy all the latest equipment and software all the time as this will put you out of business. Land Surveyors, just like other professionals, are not left out in green earth for sustainable development.

“In the past, surveying methods was all about line of sight. One had to see from one point to the other. In doing so, the obstructions, which are mainly vegetation had to be cut and be removed. Obviously, this isn’t good for the environment. The conventional survey methods accelerated deforestation,” thus Marwa.

Besides, land surveyors are also involved in erven subdivisions and have to align newly created erven in such a way that the building that is going to be erected will utilise as much sunlight as possible to save energy. For Marwa, the orientation of erven is also in line with prevailing wind conditions so that air conditioning in the buildings is minimised. All these are taken into consideration and a client is advised accordingly.

If given an opportunity to address the line- Minster, Marwa says his advice would be for NUST to implement the correct curriculum to produce local Professional Land Surveyors. He argues that at the moment only students who train outside the country can only be registered as Professional Land Surveyors because the curriculum at NUST falls short of the required standard.


Gibson Marwa

“My ultimate goal is to have a firm that is all over Africa. Africa is still developing and as Land Surveyors, we are the first starting point and the last as well.

Before any infrastructure development occurs, a land surveyor is a person to be there first to survey for the production of a topographical map.”

Any practitioners involved in infrastructure designs need a contour map for them to do their designs. Soon after the designs are completed, a land surveyor is also the first on the ground to do what is called ‘Setting Out’. This is merely transferring the designs from the paper to the ground. This is done by placing beacons which depicts the features which appear on the drawing to the ground. Builders need pegs to start their work. These pegs are the ones placed by the land surveyor.

A land surveyor is also the last professional to leave the site of any infrastructure. Before the infrastructure is ready for occupation or use, a Land Surveyor should do what is called as built survey. Designs and finished products have discrepancies due to human errors. A distance which appears as exact on the design might be short or more by a few millimetres. Thus, the need for As-Built plans which will be used in future for renovations or upgradings.

Currently G.Marwa Land Surveyors is a team of one Professional Land Surveyor, three Land Surveyors in Training (LSITs), four Survey Technicians as well as support staff, which comprises of office administrators for the two offices in Ondangwa and Windhoek, plus two drivers, two receptionists and two cleaners.

“But when the economy slows down, all professions are affected. Since Government has stopped or slowed down most of the capital projects, it also affects land surveyors. Since Land Surveyors are at the fore-front of land delivery, we commend Government for giving green light to Private Public Partnerships (PPP). The Private Sector of the economy should meet Government half way to accelerate infrastructure development. Gone are the days when the economy was all about Government.”

Land Surveying consists of many branches. The main branches are:

  1. Cadastral Surveying, which involves the survey of land properties for the attainment of Title Deeds
  2. Topographical/Detail Surveying which is basically done to produce maps and plans which are then used for designing infrastructure by Architects, Civil Engineers or Town Planners.
  3. Engineering Surveying which is setting out of Engineering works. This process involves taking what is on a designed drawing and putting it on the ground and checking if both horizontal alignment as well as vertical plumb are as on the designed drawing.
  4. Sectional Title Surveys. These are surveys done on Townhouses/ flats for them to have separate titles. A block of flats will have individual Title Deeds and make it easy to dispose of individual section.
  5. GIS, Geographical Information Systems is a tool used in problem solving in many areas of our day to day living. Spatial Data capture, depending on the accuracies required, is done by Land Surveyors. Utility GIS is one are Land Surveyors are required.
  6. Mining Surveying and these involves surveying done at mines to guide and direct miners as well as to determine the volumes of material mined.
  7. Hydrographic Surveying is done at oceans for mapping the sea bed as well as Engineering works that might be done off-shore.
  8. Deformation Monitoring. These are precise surveying done to monitor tall building as well as dam walls for safety precautions. These types of surveys can also be done to monitor natural disasters such as landslides, but are not common in Namibia.

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