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Potain looms large over Village Walk

26 September 2016


The five cranes strategically positioned between the high rise buildings at the Village Walk give an indication of the sheer extent of another important building project under way in Sandton.


By mid-July, the building contractors had already tackled approximately 10% of the works, which comprises a new commercial and retail development in Gauteng’s business hub.

Prominent South African property developer, Eris Property Group, has contracted a joint venture between Trencon Construction and Aveng Grinaker-LTA Building to construct the two new office towers that make up this development.

Toni Flavio, operations director of Trencon Construction, says this is an extremely strategic project for the building contractor, and the largest project the company has undertaken to date.

Flavio is confident that this will be yet another successful project completed by the JV, as both companies have experience working in tandem. The two contractors have a solid portfolio of successfully completed high-rise projects, and have worked together in Sandton before.

“I believe one of the strengths of this partnership is that both companies have a very similar business culture. And this is one of the reasons why we decided to tender for the works in a JV again,” Flavio says.

One of the complexities on this project is the immense work involved in building the two large office towers in one of the busiest areas of Sandton. Together, both structures have a large footprint of 16, 000m² in an impressive excavation that challenged the geotechnical contractors ahead of the arrival of the construction JV.

The biggest tower has a footprint of 9, 000m² at basement level. Once completed, this building will comprise seven basements, two floors of retail space, 13 floors of offices and a roof structure. It will be occupied by MMI.

This is the second tower to be tackled by the JV. It flanks the existing Nedbank building, and calls for the careful planning and coordination of material handling and lifting activities considering the tight project schedule. The main materials handling tasks are being undertaken using a Potain MC 125 tower crane.

Trencon’s senior site agent, Ernst Bezuidenhout, says during the initial stages of the build, the tower crane had to be erected with a 30m jib due to its very close proximity to the adjacent building.

Potain has designed its tower cranes to accommodate different combinations of five metre and 10m jib sections. Specifically, the Potain MC 125 can be erected in a 60m, 55m, 50m, 40m and 30m jib configuration, a benefit that was a major advantage on this particular project site.

At the end of July, the tower crane was anchored and jacked to about 54m, sufficient height to adequately clear the neighbouring structures.

The crane will be raised five times over the duration of the contract. The next jack will take place in mid-September when the crane will be raised to a height of 68m and the JV reaches the first floor of the structure. The jib will be removed using a mobile crane and extended to 60 m to allow the required reach for materials handling activities across the construction site. By August 2017, the crane will reach its final height of 123m.

From the outset, the Potain MC 125 has been servicing the construction requirements of the main elevator shaft. The tower crane handles the extensive formwork, concrete and reinforcement needed to build the structural elements of the tower.

At the same time, it is tasked with lifting and placing the five ton hydraulic boom pump with its counterweights at the work face. Here, a preformed steel system, using hydraulic shutters, that is able to jack two platforms at a time is being used to build the 13m by 7m elevator shaft, fireman’s lift and fire escape stairway

Limited space means that this project is reliant on just-in-time delivery of critical building materials to the laydown area. These activities are being coordinated by a dedicated logistics manager on the construction site. 

Certainly adding to Flavio’s confidence on this build is the JV’s strong team of subcontractors and supply chain partners, which are able to abide by these strict schedules. Flavio says that the JV’s partners were carefully selected based on their sound performance in the South African construction industry.

“We look for an ability to supply us with a top quality service. This is vital, considering that our business relationships are based on mutual trust and performance,” he says.

This is exactly why Trencon Construction uses SA French for all its tower crane requirements. The company has been doing business with the subsidiary of Torre Industries for the past five years.

Flavio says the Potain brand has always inspired confidence in the company to build complex high-rise projects.

“Building 30 storey structures is a complex activity. You need to be sure that when you embark on such a project you have the correct equipment, as this can make or break a contract,” he says.

In addition to Potain being a revered international tower crane brand, Flavio says the technical after-sales support provided by SA French has played a critical role on all Trencon Construction’s projects. The building contractor also relies on SA French for all its tower crane erection and dismantling services.

Trencon Construction only buys new cranes from SA French, allowing it to enjoy the full warranties that come with the new equipment.

The Potain MC 125 is the latest tower crane in Trencon Construction’s fleet. This is only this tower crane’s second project and it was mobilised from a recently completed project in Kimberley, Northern Cape, to this site this year.

Sandton remains a growth node and important source of work for the South African construction industry. It is easy to identify who dominates this hotspot by just looking to the sky, as there’s bound to be Potain livery associated with the heavy lifting.

Train plant construction ‘on track’, says Gibela

22.09.2016 Construction work at the site of Gibela’s R1-billion train factory in Dunnottar   

The construction of Gibela’s R1-billion train factory at Dunnottar, in Ekurhuleni, is on schedule, says the rail consortium in a project update.

Gibela has been contracted to supply the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa with 600 new passenger trains, in a deal worth R51-billion.

The first 20 trains are being imported from Brazil, with the remaining 580 to be built at the Dunnottar site. Gibela will also provide maintenance and engineering services at the facility, as well as training in railway-specific artisan skills.

Construction work on the Dunnottar facility is divided into seven packages, namely plant rescue, site clearance, bulk earthworks and civil infrastructure; main site buildings; supplier park buildings; rail infrastructure; electrical reticulation and equipment; mechanical; and cranes.

To kick off package one, Trencon Construction, Gibela’s contractor for site clearance, bulk earthworks and civil infrastructure, was tasked with an indigenous plant rescue operation.

With the help of Xihungaso Construction Services, a black women-owned construction services company, Trencon Construction appointed a workforce of mostly disabled workers and safely removed more than 10 000 indigenous plant species from the Dunnottar site.

When the construction programme is complete, the indigenous plant species will be replanted on site.

Once this was completed, Trencon Construction began site clearance, as well as bulk earthworks development of the civil infrastructure. This included mass earthworks, fencing and hydrology.

Work on package two is currently in progress. This package is the most extensive in terms of time and employment.

The tender to complete package two was awarded to a joint venture (JV) between Trencon Construction and Black Jills Engineering.

The JV has to complete the main site buildings, including the training centre.

The foundations for the main site buildings have already been laid, and construction teams have started to set up the steel structures of the main site buildings.

“This major milestone of structural steel installations to the foundations started towards the end of August,” says Gibela construction manager Vernon Colbert.

“We are faced with very tight deadlines to accommodate the industrialised fit-out of the different workshops, but we are on track.”

Gibela says work packages five, six and seven will be awarded soon.

The 4 000 m2 training centre has to accept people by October, with the first manufacturing building to be completed in March next year.

Train production is set to start in the second quarter of 2017.

Around 400 workers are currently employed on the Dunnottar site, with around 50% of these workers recruited from neighbouring areas such as Kwa-Thema, Duduza and Tsakane.

Project Launch: Women's Living Heritage Monument


09.08.2016 : Pretoria – President Jacob Zuma unveiled the Women’s Living Heritage Monument at Lillian Ngoyi Square in Pretoria on Tuesday 9 August 2016.

The monument tells the story of women’s contribution to the liberation struggle and features four statues of the heroic stalwarts, Rahima Moosa, Helen Joseph, Lillian Ngoyi, Sophie De Bruyn (statues below).

The four women lead a march to the Union Buildings 60 years ago today, where thousands of women from all parts of the country delivered a petition to the then Prime Minister, JG Strijdom, against the carrying of dompasses and the degradation of African women.


National Women’s Day, being celebrated on Tuesday, marks the 60th anniversary since the historic march took place.

The Women’s Living Heritage Monument also has a leadership development and training centre and dedicated walls for murals, artworks and artefacts. These tell the story of women’s struggles covering more than a hundred years.

Minister in the Presidency responsible for Women, Susan Shabangu said the day was an exciting but emotional reflection of the country’s history - where it has come from and what women have done to contribute to where it is today.

“This day is very significant … women once more are gathered here to witness the opening of the living monument, where people can see the contribution of women across colour lines,” said Minister Shabangu.

She challenged women, especially young women, to visit the monument in order to reflect and inform their destiny.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and Sophie De Bruyn were among those who attended the unveiling and toured the monument.

President Zuma led the National Women’s Day celebration at the Union Buildings.


Project Launch: Gibela Main Manufacturing Plant

02.06.2016 :Trencon Black Jills joint venture has been awarded the R400-million contract to build the main site buildings at its Dunnottar train manufacturing plant, on the East Rand.

With completion of environmentally sensitive site-clearing in February 2016 and partial completion of earthworks, construction of the new train-manufacturing facility has now begun. Site mobilisation for this critical phase started early in May 2016 to begin work on the factory and ancillary buildings which comprise five manufacturing buildings (including the training centre), a central complex of two buildings and utility buildings for operational purposes.

The training centre will be the first building to be completed. Prioritisation of the training centre is to allow for staggered training of South Africans in readiness for when local train manufacturing operations begin.

Earthworks and basic infrastructure, both of which are scheduled for completion in April 2017, will be carried out concurrently with the construction of the factory buildings themselves. The first of these is scheduled to be completed in March 2017 and to be sufficiently equipped to allow preliminary work on train production to get under way during the second quarter of the year.

It is planned that construction and equipping of all the buildings on site will be completed by November 2017, when full-scale building and assembling of the first of the 580 South African-made trains, for delivery to PRASA, will begin. The gross building area of the factory covers 53,000m² of the site’s total area of 270,000m², or 27 hectares.

The construction programme will reach its peak at the end of 2016 wherein some 1,900 limited duration jobs will be created.

The gross building area of the Dunnottar factory covered 53 000 m² of the site’s total area of 270 000 m².