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Consulting engineers say their hands are clean

The consulting engineering industry was not being investigated for collusive practices, Consulting Engineers SA’s (Cesa) president Zulch Lötter said on Wednesday.

“I can categorically say we are not aware of any collusion investigations in our industry,” he told the South African Press Association after presenting his presidential message for the year in Johannesburg.

“To our knowledge there is no word that we are being investigated [by the Competition Commission].”

His comments came in light of the commission’s investigation into what appeared to be widespread collusion in the construction industry.

The commission on Tuesday called for construction firms involved in collusive bidding practices to apply for a “fast-track settlement”.

The commission said it was investigating 65 bid-rigging cases in the sector involving over 70 projects valued at R29-billion.

Lötter said collusion would be more difficult in the consulting engineering sector as it had many more major players than the construction industry.

‘Integrity pact’
There were four major construction companies, while Consulting Engineers SA (Cesa) had 470 members, of which about 20 were substantial, he said.

“When you look at the tender prices you can see no evidence of collusion, and the possibility in this industry is significantly reduced.”

Cesa members had — as a condition of membership — to agree to comply with certain business integrity principles, he said.

In addition, Cesa was working with Business Unity South Africa (Busa) to develop an “integrity pact”.

It would form an agreement to be signed, at tender stage, between the client and service provider, binding both parties to good governance practices during the contract, Lötter said.

Once Cesa had finalised a proposal on a template, it would be handed to Busa, then possibly discussed at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac).

This would assist Cesa members, who regularly reported on suspicions of bribery and corruption, he said.

“Unfortunately it seems that our members are brought under increasing pressure to take part in these practices.” – Sapa

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Gillian Jones
Guest Author

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