JSE-listed engineering and construction group Murray & Roberts has started shifting its attention from Eskom’s two mega-scale power station projects – Limpopo and Mpumalanga respectively, to tackling a range of smaller opportunities in various industrial and resources sectors.
The company’s subsidiary Power & Water’s chief executive officer Steve Harrison says demobilisation at the Medupi and Kusile projects will begin in earnest during the course of 2018.
The development comes after absorbing the lion’s share of the unit’s 6 000-person-strong human resource complement over the past ten years.
In parallel, efforts are under way to replenish the platform’s order backlog both in South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, with a particular focus on prospects in the mining, pulp and paper, chemicals, electricity, energy and water treatment markets.
Harrison expects future contracts to be far more modest in scale and contract value than Medupi and Kusile, where, at one point, M&R was involved in either constructing or commissioning 11 of the 12 boilers simultaneously.
However, besides moving up the project life-cycle value chain, as well as integrating engineering and design with its construction capability, regional diversification is another key priority for Harrison and his team.
“We have established offices in Accra, Ghana and Maputo, Mozambique.”
We have fully compliant entities operating in those countries and we also still have registered companies in Botswana and Namibia. The platform also intends to leverage M&R’s strong underground mining presence in Zambia to pursue any metallurgical, materials handling or water treatment opportunities that may arise at the country’s mines.”
Harrison says that, with limited immediate opportunity in South Africa, the platforms is intensifying is focus on West and East Africa.
“We have local nationals as country managers and selected local partner companies who we are working with on the opportunity pipeline,” he says, adding that there are plans afoot to expand the unit’s footprint to include Kenya.
“Coming out of the Eskom megaprojects, we need to shape ourselves and our resources to be able to deliver on some of the smaller and medium-sized projects by re-engaging with clients we worked with historically, but with whom we lost some contact while our attention was taken up by Medupi and Kusile,” Harrison said.