Team effort pays off on CONCO Sebenza project

February 2017 – This article has been published in Energize March 2017 issue. Click here to go to the Energize website.

As CONCO heads into the third and final year of the key City Power Sebenza project, all stakeholders involved have agreed that team effort has been a significant contributor to the success of the project thus far. At the end of last year, CONCO hosted a function on site with representatives from City Power, PSW/Nyeleti Consulting Engineers, and subcontractors, marking two successful years into the project.

Sebenza 2 year customer function

City Power commended and thanked CONCO and consulting engineers PSW/Nyeleti, for the way in which they have run the project. “As one of the biggest projects undertaken,” said City Power’s Patrick O’Halloran, Chief Engineer for plant condition monitoring, “it’s critical to our network that the project is delivered on time or before time and it’s really what we come to expect from CONCO nowadays. It’s been such a great team effort and not just one person making it happen.”

CONCO Special Projects Director, Mario Prasti said that although the project was earmarked for completion within 45 months, the aim is to complete it in 32 months. “We basically broke up the project into three years. The first year saw commencement of the civil work of which 90% was civils and on the backend, the procurement. The bulk of the Installation and commissioning was undertaken in the second year and the third year will see the installation of the three 315 MVA 275kV/88 kV/22 kV autotransformers (each weighing about 100 tons) built locally by Actom, and the connection phase.”

City Power’s Acting General Manager Infrastructure Planning, Tony Whittaker expressed that when this project (Sebenza) has been completed, it will go a long way to satisfy the ever-increasing demand for capacity in Johannesburg and it can be used as the template to roll out other major projects like Quattro. He also thanked CONCO and the team of consultants working on the project for their excellent work and stated that CONCO had “thrown down the gauntlet“ for others to follow in the future.

CONCO Senior Project Manager Thamie Nyembe said that good planning and management is vital for a project of this magnitude. “The Sebenza team has been absolutely fantastic from the point of view that we’ve had to overcome some serious challenges. It was encouraging to hear City Power comment as to how the team goes the extra mile when challenges arise, coming up with better solutions. In regard to safety, almost 600 000 man hours have been clocked with no incidents. Considering we have had a complement of about 140 people on site at any one time, this is quite an achievement.”

Hein Schuld, founder of PSW Consulting Engineers, echoed the team’s efforts and gave insight into how projects of this nature begin and evolve: “I always ask young engineers what they think consulting engineers do and they are always surprised if I tell them that we are really dream-builders. The customer has a dream of what he wants to do and you have to sit down with him and make sure that you understand it. That’s what Riaan and I have been doing with regard to Sebenza, since 2007, which is when this project started. We pushed the ball backwards and forwards until we had a clear picture of the dream. Then we put this dream on a piece of paper and sent it out to price. That’s when it comes together, and the wonderful thing is that this entire team bought into that dream building project. We are now two-thirds of the way, so congratulations. We, as an entire team, feel drawn in. It’s not you against us, everybody is involved from the tea girls right through to the senior people (junior to senior). Everybody is working to get this project up and running and everyone is putting in an extra bit of effort which I’ve not seen on many other projects; every single body without exception.”

For further information, contact Thamie Nyembe on +27 11 805 4281 or email