Tulipamwe: Engineering core business and strengths during tough construction times

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Twelve years at Windhoek Consulting Engineers’ water engineering department led to opportunities in Dubai and Bahrain for civil engineer Jacques Beukes as Aurecon snatched him.

“I returned to Namibia in 2009 and performed site supervision for five years for Aurecon Namibia for the Tsumeb-Katwitwi Road Link Project,” begins Beukes. Exposed to international engineering environment, Beukes in 2014, joined Tulipamwe Consulting Engineers as Oshakati office manager spending a year before returning to Windhoek in the design office. Below he describes how perseverance and the ability to embrace change, characterised his engineering life:

TE: What were your biggest projects for 2016?

JB: I would definitively say that the key highlights were the commencement of the construction of water and sewer infrastructure at /Ai-/Ais and at Hobas Campsite. The project entailed the construction of waste water treatment plants and re-using of the purified water for irrigation.

Tulipamwe Consulting Engineers were also appointed to render professional services pertaining to the detailed design, tender documentation and contract supervision for the construction of municipal services infrastructure at Ompumbu Extensions 1, 2 and Proper in Oshakati.

TE: Of the lessons learnt, which ones stand out and why?

JB: One must make a value judgement and consider all possible outcomes before making decisions regarding a project. One must also make decisions often and correct wrong decisions immediately. No decisions can often cause more costs to a project or delays to a project. As engineers, we are trained to find solutions to problems.

TE: So where will your growth be focused in 2017?

JB: Strategic management, innovation and social media marketing. In 2016 there was a decline in the growth in construction industry and I think 2017 will be similar. In uncertain times one must concentrate on the core business and your strengths.

TE: What have been the biggest challenges of 2016 and do you have any solutions to fix it?

JB: The continuous drought and the scarcity of water is increasing uncertainty and causing doubt in the continuation of projects especially in Windhoek. Late payments of invoices and freezing of projects are also challenges. Therefore, we need to engage more with stakeholders and looking for alternative markets and strategic partners.

TE: But how do you best describe the industry?

JB: Exciting and challenging. I think even though you have years of experience you can learn new things every day and you can travel the country or the world. All construction projects are not the same and each has unique circumstances and challenges.

TE: And government? Are you satisfied with the progress?

JB: Progress had been made since independence in the industry to provide construction contracts to previously disadvantaged Namibian companies.

However, a substantial portion of capital projects especially the larger projects are done by foreign companies. We should try to keep the money in the country and focus more on training local contractors regarding contract administration and contract finances.

TE: If you were to change something in 2017, what would it be within your organisation? Where is change needed?

JB: I would not change anything in 2017. Our company is flexible and we would make changes if the industry changes drastically.

TE: Let’s talk about competition? What is it that makes you unique from your competitors?

JB: We are a 100% Namibian owned company and full compliant with NEEF. Our expertise are in roads, transportation and civil engineering consultancy.

We can produce designs and contract documents fast, efficiently and will go the extra mile for our clients to ensure that projects are delivered successfully and to excellent standards. We are adaptable to change, flexible in incorporating company strategies and non-bureaucratic thereby meeting the requirements of our clients.

TE: Innovation: How does innovation/technology impact the nature of your business?

JB: It impacts every aspect of our business as we require the latest versions of design packages and drafting programs to be able to stay competitive and produce designs with speed and good quality.

TE: Your message to your clients and stakeholders for 2017?

JB: Thank you for your support. We try to equal and better the quality of our services for 2017.

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