Finishing Strong and Looking Ahead

This is a quick update on the end of a tumultuous year for many people, Route Geographic Consultants included. In 2020 we saw so many promising quotes and options just grind to a halt. Work we were excited to see come to fruition evaporate like mist on a sunny summers day. And revealed by this disappearance were other opportunities missed before!

End of 2020

The shock of Covid-19 and the contraction of world-wide spending left many folk in limbo. Without a clear strategy for the future as their gains of the past were eroded away. It has taken some amazing people, friends and relatives – The Prime Minister of Eswatinini Mr Mandvulo Dlamini; our long time friend and confidant, Mr Lindifa Mamba; our co-directors wife’s mother and others – may they rest in peace.

For us at RGC we had to focus on what we still had – our local clients, our international contacts and our change in direction as an industry as a whole. I have been saying for several years now that Survey was set to change. With the advent of open sourced data and software platforms such as TopoMaps, Google Earth, QGis and the like, survey was going from providing quality data collected on site manually, to quality management and analysis of data collected by third parties or remote sensing.

To do this efficiently one needs a base of operations that is administratively strong, with a well qualified core leadership structure. After successfully getting rid of the bad apple in our firm in 2017 (at great cost financially, yet worth every penny and more), RGC has focused on this core and we are benefitting from this now, three years down the road.

Thanks to fantastic support from our industry partners, Dave Biggert, Roughton International, LTA, LT Surveys Samoa and SMEC; as well as our committed and dedicated private clientele such as Mr J Budodi, Mr T Kirk, Mr J. Rudolph and others in Eswatini; coupled further with great support from Governments and funders such as the UKEF, the British High Commission and various other agencies; RGC has been busy paving the way for the future of our firm and once again reinventing our offering.

Administratively we have strengthened our platform with the introduction of new accounting systems, administrative company management systems and a robust re-assessment of CV’s and cloud filing mechanisms. Older equipment has been sold, all current equipment serviced and the teams of staff re-positioned to ensure quicker and more accurate turn around of data.

Start of 2021

Socrates said “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new”.

2021 may have started much the way 2020 ended up being, but it is the year that we will be building the new. The year of beginnings that will see us serving you, our clients, even better than we ever did before.

With the imminent start of projects negotiated successfully in 2020 and the completion of some large projects ongoing from December, RGC is excited to see the new year begin. We are ever hopeful that some of the projects quoted for a start in 2020 (that were put on hold) will still come to fruition and we are facing forward to meet the challenges that are sure to come.

Growing the Pie

It is with special thanks, always, to our friends and colleagues over these hard times. Staying in the game when the whole industry takes a turn for the worst can be achieved in two ways – you can try and destroy opponents and eat as much of the pie as you can, or you can look at opportunities to grow the pie bigger and keep your % the same. The first approach leaves you satisfied for the immediate but starving long term, the second will give you a share of a much larger and more sustainable pie! RGC has always been proud to be part of a bigger, more sustainable picture. With this in mind we have forged several new alliances across countries, with expansion into Botswana (Precision Drones); UK (MicroDrones); South Pacific (LT Surveys); Middle East (Tallow Africa) and ongoing collaboration in Europe with Kaden Surveys.

This expansion has focused on new technology in the sphere of laser scanning and aerial drone surveys.

In addition we have teamed up with Roughton International to develop aerial and ground based solutions to Road Condition surveys and traffic counts.

Thanks to each of these firms and their directors for working through some complicated and at times frustrating concepts that work well on paper but needed trial and error to become a reality. RGC now offers a wider range of survey solutions internationally that incorporate the new tech, of primary importance and excitement is the introduction of Road Condition Surveys to our wealth of expertise.

UKEF – Export Finance

Even as the world faces huge slow down’s and the need for ethical distribution of wealth, so the oldest Export Finance organisation steps in to the gap. With over 100 years of exporting finances across the globe, the United Kingdom Export Finance has expanded their business model and increased the financial options available to countries at AAA bond rates only available to OECD partner countries. We have seen successful financing in Africa of projects in Angola, Ghana, Benin, etc.

2020 Has been no different here in the Southern African Region. Eswatini alone has had their cover increased from £50 Million to over £500 million in 2020. Tanzania has gone well over the £1 billion mark. With interest rates hovering around just over 2% per annum over up to 18 year periods, the NPV of loans to these countries can be over 33%! This is a lending scheme that is virtually free and has never been so attractive as it is today. Any countries not considering these options are obviously not needing to see their development dreams become a reality.

See our web page for more details on this

Special mention

We would lastly like to make special mention of the successful completion and new qualification attained by Mr B. Edwards. A father and dedicated husband to his beautiful wife and child, a personal friend and fellow director, he has finally completed his BSc Quantity Surveying – a second degree and one that we hope to see benefit and grow our business even further. He has done this in the face of extreme difficulty – building a new house, having Covid-19, losing his mother in-law. A massive and well deserved WELL DONE!!

RGC wishes you all a great 2021 and look forward to a year that brings us all rewards through hard work made possible through opportunities realised.

Please note that our web page has been overhauled and updated and I would ask that you take a look at the new offerings and updated existing offerings presented. Thank you again for all your continued support


September 2020 – a New Dawn

2019 Ended with some amazing projects in Samoa, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. We had opportunity in Swaziland, Tanzania and Lesotho with lots of quotes in in Vanuatu, Namibia, Nigeria and Botswana.

Set for a great 2020 – and then…


… the world ended. Not with a bang or a whimper – more with a sniffle and a cough. Covid 19 dominated the world press and seeped into our everyday lives. We saw the end of children’s birthday parties, the end of day to day office life and the start of the great unknown. Even as I sit here in Augrabies writing this post, South Africans cannot leave the country and even if they could, they would be spending inordinate amounts of money and time in quarantine to access any other country.

Work has dwindled across the globe and huge sums of money disappeared in the name of “safety”. Economies have contracted and jobs have been lost. Almost like a reset button was pressed and the world hiccuped.

So what did we do to make a positive difference in the face of all of this?

Complaining about the situation is easy and all well and good when your government is as corrupt as South Africa’s. Waiting for them to help is pointless, so we need to help ourselves. What have we done to make 2021 great?


Route Geographic Consultants has embarked on a whole new field of survey. We have embraced the changes the world is facing and we are investing time and money into new technology that makes our clients lives safer and easier. In a world where travel has overnight become expensive and difficult RGC is stepping into that gap and will take this pressure off you, our valued clients. We pride ourselves on over 20 years of working in hard to get to places such as central DRC, Angola, the mountains of PNG, Nigeria central, the highlands of Ethiopia, to name but a few.

Working together with some of our more skilled colleagues across the globe we now have the capability to provide condition surveys of road corridors that include:

  • Profilometer scans
  • Visual road surface crack monitoring
  • Rut depth measurements
  • Roughness indexing
  • Horizontal alignments tied to WGS84 for accurate referencing
  • Traffic counts
  • Furniture and feature identification for the full road corridor width
  • Ground and aerial based GNSS linked imagery both still at fixed chainages as well as video

The above information is presented on the QGIS platform with simultaneous multiple screens for ease of reference and position accuracy. All info can also be output as a simple XLSX file and geo-referenced images as well as a point cloud file for the road surface to an accuracy in height of under 5 millimeters.

This means that the engineers can keep their time and manpower commitments on site to a minimum whilst having the ability to commit more time to data analysis and design without the costs of travel.

And our pricing, through new technology implementation rather than quality compromise, is the same, if not better, than you can do at cost as Engineers!


Route Geographic Consultants has been upgrading equipment, investing in new tech and conducting training of staff and directors during this period. We have strengthened our contacts and grown our offering platform.

The future is good and this reset of the world has given us new insight into the markets demands so we, as a team of dedicated professionals you know and trust, can continue serving you as the industry leaders you’ve come to know us as.


2021… a new dawn is coming and we are, and will continue to be, ready…


July 2019

End of another successful month of operation, with exciting opportunities and several changes in the pipeline.

A whirlwind month, with a great directors away time, a week in Summer in the UK doing year end and a whole new refocus for the firm. Add to this the upgrades to our existing GNSS equipment and software and you have a mixture set for success.


Directors Time Away

Thanks to Bandile Edwards and Sipho Bhembe for their commitment and dedication to running an ethical and top notch firm. The time away was a time of reflection on where we have come from, where we are at and where we wish to go as a firm. So often these times away in companies can be a whinge session. Instead, the three of us directors saw this time as one of reflection and rejuvenation. A time to touch base and to look forward.

We met early at Ithala Game Reserve, with Bandile and Sipho driving in from Swaziland and Martin flying in from Durban. The reserve is set in the Northern Natal middle veld area, with Rhino, Elephant and many different cats and buck. There is a lovely tar landing strip nestled up near the escarpment and a great service of pickup and game drives. The chalet we shared had several bedrooms and was well appointed. The food was generous and the whole setting allowed us to relax and get on with the work of vision for the firm.

With the firm being in operation for 21 years in March just past, and now being appointed to do work in Papua New Guinea – making it 41 countries of work experience – we wanted to change our modus operandi to be more global and to better serve you, our clients.

By ensuring we have the right equipment and the best possible staff, we can mobilise at short notice and have the most effect on projects. To do this we have invested several thousands into standby GNSS equipment and have embarked on international training input in key staff members… more below…


A Week in Summer

As lovely as the time in the UK was, it was also busy, client meetings, accountants and lawyers and banks and business. A good week that was productive and filled with very competent people. Definitely the right support teams to our business. A big thank you to Accord Accountants and to Paris Smith LLP. Both firms have given us the most amazing advice and helped set the course for the firms future.

Some highlights:

United Kingdom Export Finance

Partnering with the most amazing team of people in the UK and world wide in this industry, Roughton International, RGC is embarking on the exciting journey of offering not only survey support, but also financial support, to large projects at a national level. Please see United Kingdom Export Finance for more details.


Thanks to Terry, Chas and Joe at Accord accountants. What a dynamic and energy filled team of great folk. Chas gave me the best advice yet in this industry and for that I am very excited to partner with him and his great team. RGC has now migrated to Quick Books and will be registered VAT payers in the very near future. With opportunities both at a company level and personal for loans and working capital, we see RGC being able to not only get over the blow of theft dealt early last year, but to excel in the years to come.

You, our clients, can further benefit from our accounting being taken to the next level by now being able to claim VAT from our invoicing, being able to rely on our cash flow and also to appoint us to larger projects as we provide you with bonds and sureties that were previously outside of our grasp.

Paris Smith LLP

Helen Brown and Crispin Dick have shown their metal in various aspects of our firms growth. They have provided solid legal advice that comes with a wealth of experience and professionalism. Very impressed. This is a professional practice that can be proud of its members and proud of the service they deliver.

Contracts and memorandums of understanding that protect not only ourselves, but the interests of you, our valued clientele, are being looked at project by project by these folk. Pitfalls and catches that previously we have not seen coming can now be caught and discussed at the outset of projects. With the larger value attached to UKEF funded projects, this is critical. It allows for a transparent foundation for all dealings that ensures no come backs as projects progress.


HSBC has, once again, stepped up to the mark. They have shown that they are truly an international business bank, with an online and telephone banking system that speeds up business and takes time consuming administrative functions away from us their clients. This allows for our firm to be more financially sound and less focused on admin and more focused on service.

Special mention of Sophie-Anne Martin at their business banking sector for her excellent work on the companies facilities change. Quick, concise and clear – excellent work. Ms Martin and her team of business bankers make HSBC look good.

Clients and Joint Projects

As we embark on change and new ventures, it is always good to know that we are not operating in a vacuum. With being able to touch base with Roughton International (one of our oldest clients of 20 years now) and other UK based firms and individuals, we are sure of our direction. Whilst on the subject of clients, it is with great relief that, having had the privilege of interacting with Roughton International all these years, we see them starting to come back from the difficult times faced in the 2008 economic slump. A great firm, with great people!

In all that we attempt or put our hands to as RGC, we put SERVICE as our number one priority. So to all those met with and interacted with over the week that Martin de Beer was in the UK, a big thank you for your input. Every aspect of what was discussed forms part and parcel of our vision.

Your needs are our target.


Re-focus for 2019/2020

Every year we try and improve on the way the company is run. One year we added a BBBEE level 1 certification to our company portfolio, the other we added additional directors. Not all decisions are successful, but all are part of the journey and none are wasted.

This year we have looked at the addition of financing large projects as part of the UKEF team. In addition we are investing heavily in drone hard and software as well as training of key staff in the international application thereof.

We feel that as the world is becoming less “data collection” orientated and more “data manipulation” orientated, we stand idealy positioned as door keepers to data. We can ensure accuracies in information gleaned through easily accessible data sources, ensured this data is tested and fit for our clients purpose. Clients can use our services to ascertain the legal status of land information, the accuracy of imagery and mapping as well as assistance with training and systems integration at every level. With the new drone platforms introduced, we can collect mass data that previously would have been inaccessible due to high costs. However, more than this, we can now integrate this data with larger satellite imagery information as well as high accuracy ground surveys.

The training of the international staff is centred around mobilising on site, identifying, employing and training local support teams, running local surveyors and data quality checks. We believe in local manpower opportunities and skills transfer. Wherever we are in the world, skills transfer is critical. Our aim is to grow the pie larger and keep our percentage the same. We want to have apiece of a large pie, not a large piece of a small one.

As the world is becoming more online orientated, the field of survey and the need for remote information is growing. We thus stand between the “boots on the ground” and the cloud data space and provide the interface for clients needing quick, accurate and, most of all, local survey applications. Internationally.

We have invested in both hard and software to match the training of our staff and look forward to the coming financial year.


July 2019 has seen changes that lay the foundation for a truly exciting future for Route Geographic Consultants. Old hangers-on have been discarded and fresh input has been embraced. Thanks to the ongoing support of our valued clientele, we can now continue forward and grow the business.


Martin L de Beer


June 2019

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.


Equipment Upgrades

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 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, 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!!