Open Letter: Quantity Surveyors’ Act

The following letter refers to draft legislation aimed at replacing the Quantity Surveyors’ Act (Act No 36, 1970).

The proposed legislation is currently in its third draft. The relevant draft legislation can be viewed by entering the http://www.asaqs.co.za website, clicking through to the Edutech News Desk and clicking the relevant item.

The contents of this letter is published on this website with the permission of the author.

Editor

FOR ATTENTION: MR JOEY LEBURU

    The Secretary to Parliament
    Committee Section
    103-107 Plein Street
    8th Floor
    Parliament Towers
    Cape Town
    8000

The Portfolio Committee on Public Works: Quantity Surveying Profession Bill: Submission to Public Hearing

I have studied the Draft Quantity Surveying Profession Bill, and would like to submit the following comments and suggestions:

As a practicing Quantity Surveyor, I have serious concerns about the proposed composition of the Council. According to clause 3 (a) only (or rather at least) three of the nine registered persons must actively practice in the quantity surveying profession.

The purpose of this Bill is “to establish mechanisms for quality control by means of mandatory registration of all (quantity surveyors) persons in the built environment professions, and by identifying work to be performed by the various categories of registered (persons)”. The Council will have powers to decide about many aspects directly concerning all actively practicing quantity surveyors, as for instance registration, period of validity of such registration, renewal of registration, fees, etc.

I am of the opinion that by far the majority of registered quantity surveyors are actively practicing their profession. At the moment the proposed composition of the council allows for three of the total of fifteen council menbers to be practicing quantity surveyors – this is only 20% of the total number of Council members.

In a democratic society, it is difficult to understand that a Council that will have such wide spread powers, will only have 20% representation of the majority of the people which it will serve and influence, namely practicing quantity surveyors.

I suggest that practicing quantity surveyors have greater representation on the council. Should the majority of the members of the Council not be practicing quantity surveyors?

Clause 9 (1) of the draft Bill states that “A decision of the majority of the members of the council present at any meeting constitutes a decision of the council.” No mention is made of how many members constitute a quorum though. Seen in the light of the fact that the Council will have wide spread powers, I strongly recommend that a quorum of at least 70% be set.

Clause 11 (b) gives the Council the power to, “subject to this Act, prescribe the period of validity of the registration of a registered person.” Why should a quantity surveyor who is actively practicing the profession, only be allowed to register for a prescribed period of time?

With the current proposed composition of the Council, where the majority of the Council members could end up being academics, this clause could easily be employed to enforce a system of unnecessary “continuing education and training” on registered persons.

Clause 13 (k) contains the words “after consultation with the voluntary associations and registered persons”. This is a very democratic phrase.

Should this precondition not be applied to all the decisions made by the Council? Especially those decisions which will directly influence the day-to-day activities of actively practicing quantity surveyors.

By applying this precondition to all the decisions of the Council, we will be able to prevent a situation where a Council loses contact with registered quantity surveyors, and becomes a autocratic and undemocratic body.

In order to highlight how untested views can be imposed, I can just mention that the current Council is at this very moment trying to implement a Continued Professional Development system against the wishes of the majority of registered quantity surveyors.

The last point I would like to make concerns Clause 26. This clause deals with the reservation of work for registered persons. The Bill fails to prescribe which procedure will be followed against people contravening this clause, whereas clause 41 precisely prescribes what action will be taken against registered persons contravening any clause of this bill. Should procedures against unregistered persons not also be prescribed in the Act?

Thank you for the opportunity to submit our opinion to the Portfolio Committee.

Yours faithfully
THEUNIS BEKKER
ProQS HARRISMITH
BSc (QS) RQS MAQS

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