In keeping with IOPSA’s objective of engaging with local authorities, they recently met with Ekurhuleni.
The Building Control Officers (BCO) of Ekurhuleni had a training session with IOPSA in the Council Chambers at Edenvale.
Approx. 51 BCOs attended and Gerrie Botha presented the standards and by-laws for discussion. He reinforced that the BCO was vested with great power through these to enforce both compliance and competent people doing the work. In this case it was the qualified plumber. In the case of unqualified people doing plumbing work, the BCO has the power to have him/her removed from site, or preferably not even get as far as the site. The latter would be in discussion with the property owner at the planning stage.
Gerrie emphasised that every BCO must have a set of the compulsory standards. Failure to have this set leaves the BCO open to criticism and besides, it is part of the tools of the BCO profession. He warned of the dangers of using the internet as a point of reference as these are opinions and not the actual standards available only from SABS.
To answer the question of how one knows whether the plumber is qualified or not, Gerrie showed the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) certificate, which is the only certified proof of qualification for a plumber. He did confirm that there are still those holding the original qualification (Red Seal) which was acceptable. More to the point was the ‘plumber’ that had been doing plumbing for several years, without a qualification. While this was wrong and against the law, the aim should be to encourage such people to upgrade to a fully qualified plumber through several options available to them, including funding in some cases.
It was noted that IOPSA could offer to municipalities, at no charge for the first year, verification that the plumber is indeed qualified. A fast and efficient service for BCOs.
IOPSA also confirmed that as an organisation it does not issue a qualification certificate such as is required in the Skills Act. It will provide a certificate for courses/webinars they run which will clearly identify the name of the course and dates.
Executive director, Brendan Reynolds, reinforced that IOPSA was available to support and engage with the BCOs should they require assistance.
Reference was made to the PIRB, a voluntary registration and inspection/audit body, whereby a plumber can register and issue a Certificate of Compliance (COC) for a variety of plumbing jobs, which is left in the hands of the property owner. More details on PIRB can be found on www.pirb.co.za. Regarding the audit part of the PIRB mandate, this has been placed in the hands of IOPSA. Such an auditor will clearly identify themselves with an identity card as 5% of submitted COCs are audited.
Plumbing Africa had a brief chat with Thapelo Mogatusi, Interim Chief Building Control Officer for Ekurhuleni, who is a qualified architect.
He has 47 Building Control Officers for the area that covers some 1 975 square kilometres.
Mogatusi is very keen to encourage skills development and compliance. Such a focus he added was to the benefit of all parties including the Metro itself which would benefit financially as well as providing excellent service delivery – which benefits the public at large.
Stakeholder engagement was critical and he would work to build this up in the Metro.
In other words, “The BCO offers value in all aspects.”
Sadly, time was against us and Plumbing Africa and Mogatusi would meet for a more detailed interview.
Time was up for Plumbing Africa as well so we could not enjoy training manager Steve Van Zyl’s talk, but by the look of all the plumbing fittings around him the BCOs were about to enjoy examples of compliance and non-compliance.