We did not grow, we exploded

December 2012 - January 2013
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Tulipamwe Consulting Engineers is only a year old but had experienced a good year (2012). We spoke to managing partner, Oshoveli Hiveluah, who shared with us some highlights for the just ended year.

PF: If you look at your first year of operation how has it been for you?

OH: It has been somewhat overwhelming and challenging in some aspects. The biggest challenge has been getting the firm off the ground and molding it into the firm we have to. We have however managed implement a system that works for us. Looking back, it has been a challenging year but we but we managed to pull through.

In terms of work we did very well, considering that it is only our first year operation.

PF: What are some of the projects which stood out for you?

OH: The one that stands out the most is the Upgrading of the Northern Suburb Collector roads in Windhoek. The project was challenging for us in the sense that we are still a young and growing firm. With the general shortage of skilled personnel all over the industry, it meant that the work as a result increased. The project was a real eye opener it humbled me quite a bit and learned that every individual on a team has so much to offer. The challenge is harnessing the potential of the individual.

PF: Can you run us through some of the services you offer?

OH: We are a consulting engineering firm specialises in transportation and highway engineering. We are to my knowledge the biggest, transportation engineering wise, in the Namibia.

We, unlike other firms have the necessary capacity and execute all our projects in-house, with very little or no input from foreign based consulting firms.

In Namibia, the nature of the work is such that consulting engineering firm needs to be flexible and be able to adjust to dynamic market trends. As a result we feel that it is still very important to be able to cover all facets of civil engineering, when necessary.

In addition to roads, we also offer typical municipal services infrastructure (water and sewer) design, contract administration and site supervision. Whenever structural, electrical and mechanical work is involved we seek the services of Denchi Consulting Engineers.

We believe that in the consulting industry today, it is important to know your niche and hence take full advantage of that. In addition, we feel it is important to be effective and efficient and one way of achieving that effectiveness is through specialisation (to be good at what you do).

The above, would mean that we see ourselves as a civil engineering firm, specialising in transportation engineering.

PF: What can you say about the company’s growth?

OH: With regards to the growth, we grew really quickly…hence the term ‘we have exploded on to the scene’. The management of the firm was challenging because we grew to a staff contingent of 20 persons within three months of operation. The former may be attributed to the sheer volume of work that we got since our opening.

To date, the projects held are as follows:

• Sub-consultant for the construction of DR 3608: from Omafo to Outapi, MR 67: Ruacana- Omakange;
• Sub-consultants for Windhoek Consulting Engineers, for the following roads:
– MR125: Liselo – Linyanti – Kongola – Singalamwe;
– TR14/02: Gobabis – Otjinene;
– DR 3524: Izimwe to Nakabolelwa;
– DR 3673: Omuthiya- Onanke;
– DR 3610: Mangetti West.

PF: How do you handle the various dynamics of a growing firm whilst keeping the firms goals at heart?

OH: It is difficult, but that is part of growing a young firm. The challenge remains to maintain quality (deliver a high quality product) at all times, even if it means having to go back to the drawing board. In established firms it is a lot easier, because the systems have withstood the test of time.

In order to cope with the work load we have simply subdivided the work. Generally, I am responsible for the township related projects, whilst my partner Mr. LG Kriel, is looking after all the rural road infrastructure projects from the Roads Authority. The former is not cast in stone because at times delegation of ones is sometimes required.

PF: What time do you normally wake up?

OH: Working days – 04h00, Weekend 06h00 (I have kids)

PF: What elements of safety do you factor in when designing Namibian roads?

OH: Namibian roads are designed based on design standards stipulated by the Roads Authority of Namibia. Generally the basic criterion that determines the different geometric and material requirements of a road is design speed and the anticipated traffic volume on the road under consideration. Generally our roads (bitumen) are designed to a speed of 120km/h, whereas our gravel roads are designed to a speed of 80km/h.

The above also depends on numerous practical considerations that the designer needs to take into account for example: terrain, climate, availability of suitable materials…etc.

PF: With regards to safety, do you think the rise of accidents on our roads may be attributed to engineers designing the roads?

OH: Unfortunately, many times one finds that most motor vehicle related accidents are attributed to driver of the vehicle. Certain members of our community do not respect the traffic rules. Many drivers do not abide to the 120km/h and 60km/h speed limits posted on our rural and urban roads respectively.

In that respect I applaud the strong presence of our traffic police on our roads to combat speeding.

In addition, one also finds that motor vehicle industry, is manufacturing vehicles that can travel very fast. The former can also be contributor to the increase in vehicle accidents. Ultimately, the onus rests with the operator i.e. the driver.

Lastly I would like to plead with motorists to stop warning each other about the presence of traffic control officers. This behavior needs to stop as it may it is also a contributor to motor vehicle related accidents and loss of valuable lives.

PF: Who do you think is the major of cause traffic accidents?

OH: I think the issue is complex…From the tabloids one finds that many motor vehicle related accidents are caused by taxis. The reduction in motor vehicle related accidents will only occur once drive attitude changes. The former means…more campaigns and strict traffic control.

PF: What socio-economic value is coming out of the projects you are engaged in?

OH: The National Government has been actively engaged in the fight to uplift the quality of life of its people. There has been very big emphasis on the provision of portable water and the sewage infrastructure. All these efforts are geared to improve health and quality of life.

The government has also been very active in the creation of employment opportunities. With the high levels of unemployment plaguing our nation, the government has really tried and is continually trying to create wealth amongst its people through employment creation .e.g. labor based construction.

PF: There is an outcry on the quality of roads, when it rains. Is it engineering related; can you shed more light on this one?

OH: Well that depends…one thing for sure is that I think that we are fortunate that our country is relatively dry, which generally creates a good condition for roads. Water, is probably the biggest to infrastructure especially roads.

The year 2010 and 2011, Namibia has received generous amount of rain which in many respects had resulted in widespread flooding especially in the northern areas. In terms of what had happened I think it is important to note that perhaps the global weather patterns may be changing (nobody knows for sure). Therefore this may be the time to revisit some of the methods and procedures (which in the past were satisfactory) we take into consideration when designing our roads. The former ties in with the standards that any engineer needs to abide by when designing roads or any other type of infrastructure for that matter.

In addition, I believe that some of the problems related to flooding and road wash-aways may have been foreseen and appropriate action implemented through a proper consultation process. That is why I think as a professional it is always very important to consultant the public, beneficiaries of the intended infrastructure as well as the elderly. Too often I found that they have valuable contributions to make to the decision making processes.

PF: How did you give back to the community this year?

OH: In our first year of operation, we noticed that there is a shortage of skilled personnel in the country. As a result, we decided to award bursaries for the year 2013.

We believe that potential may be found anywhere. As a result, Tulipamwe Consulting Engineers had decided to invest in the development of our youth and the country as a whole by supporting Namibian students at tertiary institutions. The former is in accordance with what we stand for which is in support of the Namibia Economic Empowerment & Equitable Framework (NEEEF).

In addition, we participated in the Young Career’s Expo, which is a fund, started by young black professionals, whose aim is to raise funds for learners who cannot school and tertiary education fees. The event was attended many professionals from various fields and sectors of the industry, namely: planners, architects, engineers and quantity surveyors. The guest speaker at the event was Hon. David Namwandi the Deputy Minister of Education. To my knowledge well over N$270,000 was raised on that night, so we also made our own contribution to the cause.

We, at Tulipamwe believe that the private sector also has a certain level of responsibility to their respective communities they interact with. Therefore I would like to urge other firms, if they can, offer assistance to institutions and organization to uplift our country through giving to those less privileged.

PF: How does the year 2013 look like for you?

OH: The year 2013 is very promising for us. We plan to carry on from where we left off and continue to thrive to be the preferred consulting engineers in Namibia. In addition, we shall continue to thrive to deliver and high level of service to all our clients.

PF: What Christmas message do you have for the Namibian nation?

OH: I wish the Namibian nation a Merry Christmas. I also wish the nation to celebrate the day when the savior, Jesus Christ was born. In addition, to those travelling as is always the case, ‘take it easy’ and DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE.