Bongani Dladla was recently approved by Cabinet as CEO of the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB). He had served as the organization’s interim CEO since the death of Cyril Gamede in August 2021.
Bongani Dladla, CEO, Construction Industry Development Council
During his tenure as COO of CIDB, Dladla oversaw the operational implementation plan for the grassroots industry development initiative, Build.
At 32, Dladla is known for his energy and dynamic leadership. This Youth Month he told us more about his role at CIDB, how he cut his teeth in the construction industry and how we can address some of the challenges young people face in industry.
Bongani Dladla: The role is relatively simple to define as the accounting officer of the CIDB. It involves leading the day-to-day management of the institution, the development and execution of strategy, people and stakeholder management.
The role becomes very complex when you think about the mandate of the institution. How do we ensure real representation of young people, women, people with disabilities and black people in general in government and the private sector? How do we regulate while developing the industry and how do we transform the industry into an effective and efficient industry to help the development and socio-economic recovery of the country.
Dladla: Teachers are great influences in our lives. In high school, I did woodworking as one of the technical subjects. In this topic, we learned about the built environment. I remember in one course we were learning about lateral supports in old buildings and to me it just made sense. I could visualize what was happening with the distribution of forces.
The idea of working on things I could see and feel, solving problems for many at the same time appealed to me. Like many of us growing up before 1994 and immediately in our transition, it was also interesting to address some of the service delivery issues we faced – the lack of clean water in the yard or decent roads were a permanent feature of our childhood.
When I started physically building infrastructure, it started immediately after undergrad when I became a water engineer. We’ve built everything from replacing burst pipes to new treatment plants.
Engineering and construction gave me a vocation that fulfilled my desire to solve socio-economic problems.
Dladla: During my undergraduate career at the University of KZN, I had to undertake 13 weeks of vacation work. In my second or third year of school, I was placed at the Howick Wastewater Treatment Plant for the construction of a chlorine contact tank. I worked under the direction of the works inspector and I was responsible for keeping the site diary and checking the reinforcement.
I spent the following years working on the planning, design and construction of water infrastructure.
Dladla: SA’s construction industry has enormous potential to solve many of our complex socio-economic challenges. We build roads not just to build roads, but to enable economic development, employment for the masses of our people and a better life for many.
Dladla: Likely the formation of a youth forum to address skills development in water utilities and the completion of the design and construction of the Rosetta water treatment plant. It was an innovative treatment technology capable of treating more water with a smaller footprint and energy demand. What was also exciting about this project was that it was mainly young engineers who were responsible for the overall design. I was very proud to have led this project at the beginning of my career.
Dladla: Skills mismatch poses a significant challenge, particularly those of FET institutions. You find many graduates who do not have the opportunity to gain experience and those who do not have the formal training have the work experience.
The skills development component of the Build program should help fill the gap.
The skills standard published by the Minister of Lille requires that all construction projects at grades 7, 8 and 9 be used as skills and business development sites.
Dladla: As young people today, we will inherit enormous responsibilities much earlier in our careers than our parents and their parents. We must be prepared to use unconventional means to gain the experience and confidence to contribute meaningfully to these roles.
Unconventional means raising your hand for assignments that will require you to work twice as hard as others to achieve it, offering your services for free in professional and voluntary associations to gain first-hand experience in industry issues, and there really is no substitute for hard work.
Dladla: Have a social pact for the country. Fulfill all service delivery oriented roles within government. Create a digital map for all the country’s infrastructure needs and a roadmap to close the gap.
Meet Bongani Dladla, the dynamic new CEO of CIDB
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