StayEasy Pietermaritzburg completed on schedule

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Southern Sun's new three-storey hotel offering 127 en-suite rooms, including a disabled bedroom and six interleading family rooms, has been handed over by construction company Grinaker-LTA 16 days early.

Grinaker-LTA, a subsidiary of the JSE-listed Aveng Group, said it encountered its fair share of challenges on this R58-million contract. Richard Moore, contracts director at Grinaker-LTA Building East, explains: "The challenges included the change from an internal drywall partitioning system to brickwork. The complicated design proved a challenge in building up the internal brickwork, which tightened an already rigorous programme."

Technical challenges included unstable ground conditions on the site, requiring the use of 96 piles and 145 reinforced concrete ground beams.

Moore adds: "Transport costs prevented the use of our core labour from Durban. As a result, we had the minimum core crew, and local skills had to be sourced as an alternative. This resulted in a workforce consisting of 80% local, basically unskilled labour."

Grinaker-LTA used the opportunity to provide on-the-job training in a range of construction disciplines. Local sub-contractors were also employed on the project wherever possible.

When receiving the occupancy certificate, Dhayalan Naidoo, director of operations for StayEasy Hotels, said: "Well done to the professional team, builders and the development team. This certificate is 16 days early."

Thea Marx, GM for coastal regions of client Liberty Properties, described the hotel as the "best looking StayEasy ever" and thanked everyone involved in the project for their enormous effort.

The project team reported that a Disabling Injury Frequency Rate of zero was achieved on this project, and that the construction team worked almost 400 000 man-hours entirely incident free (i.e. without a single lost time injury). The contract won the Master Builders South Africa National Occupational Health and Safety Competition in its category for 2009.

This project also provided Grinaker-LTA with an opportunity to become involved in a community upliftment project initiated by the Liberty Midlands Mall.

"Reach Out is an organisation that aims to help children and the elderly," Moore explains. "It is based in Pietermaritzburg and works mainly in the informal settlement of France, an impoverished community that has been gravely affected by HIV/Aids. At the local school, 300 of the 1900 children are orphans. We learned of the organisation during our contract for the StayEasy Hotel, and we are now involved in a project, initiated by the Liberty Midlands Mall, to build a Community Centre for Reach Out."

Each company involved contributed R20 000 to build this community facility at a marginal cost. Liberty Properties has contributed R2.4-million to the Reach Out project.

Members of the professional team on the StayEasy Hotel contract included:

- Principal Agent & Project Manager: GHC Africa Projects

- Architects: Bentel Associates

- Quantity Surveyors: Crane RQS

- Civil & Structural Engineers: AKI Consulting Eng.

- Electrical Engineers: Quad Africa Consulting

- HVAC/Mechanical Engineers: RPP

- Rational Fire Design: Building Code Consultants

- Health & Safety Consultants: C & M Safety Consultants

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