Construction COVID-19 Rapid Response Task Team, a voluntary construction industry collaboration of organisations across the sector, notably for the first time in the history of South Africa, was established to provide a collective construction industry response to the shutdown of all industries imposed through the lockdown restrictions emanating from the Regulations promulgated in April 2020, in respect of the Disaster Management Act of 2002.
The aforementioned restrictions became necessary to enable the country to prepare for and subsequently limit the spread of the COVID -19 pandemic, which by that time had already seriously manifested itself in various other countries across the world. The initial focus of the Task Team was, as a collective to interact with various Government Ministries to share the impact of these measures on an already ailing industry as well as to develop protocols that could be adopted to get the industry “back to work” safely as the Country sought to save lives as well as livelihoods.
The Task Team subsequently provided input to inform the thinking on recovery plans for the industry in the medium term as input to the national economic recovery plan to both government and other broad business collaborative initiatives such as Business for South Africa (B4SA).
The Task Team recognised the value of such a coordinated and collaborative effort, taking cognisance of the many common issues each organisation were attempting to address to ensure the well-being of the industry across the value chain of the sector, which comprises of Built Environment Professionals, Contractors, Suppliers and Manufacturers. In addition, there was unanimous recognition of the need for broad-based ongoing collaboration, consultation and engagement involving relevant industry stakeholders to achieve an industry voice that is not fragmented but rather one which is characterised by professionalism, integrity, relevance, fairness and transparency whilst growing, developing and transforming to meet the goals of South Africa in respect of the National Development Plan. To this end, the initiative was reconstituted as Construction Alliance South Africa (CASA) on 21 January 2021.
CASA is an historic initiative which has united the construction industry under one umbrella body made up of some 33 professional, contractor, supplier, manufacturer and other allied industry bodies – essentially the construction value chain, with Master Builders KwaZulu-Natal as the Convenor. John Matthews, Chairperson of CASA stated: “The need for unity in the sector cannot be over-emphasised. We are not only confronted with the enormous challenge of rebuilding the construction industry out of the rubble of COVID-19, but also to make it more inclusive, transformed, innovative and competitive. It also unifies and amplifies the voice of the industry and broadens the channel of communication with government, particularly at this time when construction is taking the lead in the economic recovery of South Africa. “