To date we have had a bumper year! So busy, in fact, that this is the first news feed I am having the time to write.
All over the planet again. Swaziland, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia… and still so many more countries to work in before 2020. We have seen great opportunities opening up especially in the Pacific region, with a diverse set of interesting projects coming up. The continuation of the CCIRUP being the first of many out here for this year.
With the amazing opportunities in Samoa of training the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment together with the LTA, new friendships and oppurtunities are being built in the region. The advent of possible funding initiatives for the Nation of Samoa are being looked at and we are hopeful to see a full Survey system of interlinked control and registry data. This will not only impact Samoa, but with a CORS network on the island, the region will be safer and able to monitor tremmors in the Earths plates earlier than ever in the future. Making the tragedies of 2009 hopefully an avoidable experience for the future. Fa’afetai Lava Samoa.
Added Services for 2019
I think if I was to identify any one thing that has redefined what we do as a firm it would be the exciting addition of basic road designs. The need for an informed decision on alignments based on survey data has been the biggest challenge for any engineer we have worked with over the past 20 plus years. This comes out in the need for re-alignments, wider survey widths for toe positions on works and generally trying to follow existing levels to minimise costs yet not so much that the same problems with drainage persist. All of which the survey dictates before any heavy pavement or drainage design begins.
End of 2018 and continuing into 2019 we have successfully done the foundation of designs for over 100 kilometres of road, all of which have now gone to construction. Working with great engineers in Nigeria as well as in the smaller municipalities of South Africa, Samoa and Namibia, we have been able to cut their costs of construction and improve their overall delivery times on projects. A great step forward for Route Geographic Consultants.
From the control on the ground, to the survey between heavily populated areas through to the final design and production of drawings. With the right team we can deliver on time the fit for purpose documents you, as our clients, can use to impress the ultimate client at short turn around times and lower costs.
This service was one that I had been asked to deliver several years ago when on team in Zambia for the Piccadilly road survey with Roughton International. I was always afraid it would drive Engineering firms (our livelihood) away from using our services due to possibly seeing this as competition in a shrinking market. However, I realise now that this is a service offered exclusively to engineers for a basis of good design. It does not detract from their core business and frees up valuable resources of theirs in any project. The need for more time spent on drainage and pavement designs is tantamount to the longevity of a road and the ultimate build cost. By outsourcing the Horizontal and Vertical alignments as well as the final design drawings, engineers can focus on the complicated design challenges faced in any project and can devote more time to design. The overall engineering costs are reduced and the quality of engineering improved.
Since 1990, we have had a close relationship with VI Instruments and especially Dave Pendrill (the best representative any firm could possibly ask for!). Since his departure we have been courting Leica and thier fantastic team, but ultimately find that it is more the face of survey that’s changed, not the equipment. How we do difficult remote access terrain – our biggest issue ever since the 90’s in land mined terrain in Mozambique and Angola. Our latest acquisitions of updated drone surveying platforms allow us to have a full survey in difficult terrain turned around at short notice. The older technology we employed of UAV’s allowed for less accurate surveys suitable for irrigation and general layouts. With the new (soon to be delivered) phantom quad copters we have acquired, a slower, lower and far more accurate point cloud will now be available and incorporated into our ground based survey model. A big thanks to Matheus Kaden of Topo Drohne Germany www.kaden-vermessung.de for all the help over the years on this front. Specialists in this field, they have been invaluable to our choice of drone and our change to quad copters for aerial imagery.
Improved Services Through Technology
2019 has also been a year where we see much improved and reduced cost Satellite imagery being available. Our imagery provider, Tallow Africa https://www.tallowafrica.com/airborne-lidar.html, has been a great support for us this year so far. From sourcing good quality images for planning to providing high definition images for hydro and prelim design, Tallow has been a firm that proves its versatility and dependability at every turn. With their wealth of knowledge in the LiDAR and aerial imagery field, this is an international firm to watch.
Dr Combrink, from Tallow, has assisted us with complex calculations for national data transformations through to fielding basic survey queries without laughing at our ignorance. Both services I personally really appreciate. He has given his services from Dubai to South Africa at the oddest times of day and night (depending on where you sit at the time). So a big thanks to you, Attie. It is a pleasure being well connected with folk like you.
Our Life Blood – Our Clients
A further big thanks this year goes to our clients. Roughton International for supporting us in the face of their own crisis and their own re-focusing as a firm. Thank you for taking us with you on the journey. Aurecon, our oldest client who has seen us grow from when they were still Van Wyk and Louwe then Africon and now Aurecon. With the inclusion in several project bids and the successful going ahead of the Swaziland Sikhupe to Lomahasha project. Royal Haskoning DHV for their confidence in our quality and ongoing project support. SMEC, for the incredible team of people that they employ (Peter Ward, Graham Johnson-Jones, the amazing Meredith’s and all the support staff who work tirelessly to get projects smoothly done). And all those in Nigeria who have been on top of the projects out there without letting up through the elections. All clients of RGC, a big thanks to you for making it possible.
Our Staff and RGC
The guys at RGC once again prove their metal getting you, our clients, survey data no matter where or how difficult to get to. We were hard pressed on the Swaziland project to conform with the Health and Safety directives given. Although we subscribe to a stringent health and safety code, the terrain and types of areas requiring access during a long road survey are very hard to quantify. We provided in our documentation for Sugar Cane Burning and poisonous snakes, traffic at low visibility points and times, military action on the Swaziland/Mozambique border, possible wild dog attacks and general unrest as often found in Africa. What we didn’t cover (but don’t worry Jacques we did document) was the hippos and crocodiles found in the Mbuluzi river and the large culverts standing in deep water (as seen alongside).
True to the nature of our staff and the ethos of the company as a whole, we went over and above the call of duty. We made a plan where needed and did not make our logistical problems those of our client.
From Martin de Beer being on the Somali border and visiting Afghanistan to try and secure work, to Sipho Bhembe being in central Nigeria fending off a spade wielding local wanting to ‘cut his head off’ for bringing upgrades to the road networks, RGC is willing and more than able to go anywhere to service the industry. We as directors pride ourselves on our ‘go anywhere’ attitude and the fact that we go ahead of our staff.
Who to watch in the firm
Mr BP Edwards. Bandile has embarked on a further degree to augment his current qualifications. He is doing a Quantity Surveying related degree that will see him one step closer to being registered as a professional member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. Fitting as he is from Swaziland Royal blood! A brilliant man who both Sipho Bhembe and I have had the privilege of watching grow in the firm and as a friend and co-director. Good luck my brother!!