Bay engineering firm welcomes new blood, says goodbye to director

BY SUPPLIED - DECEMBER 19, 2014

DUP van Renen, one of three directors at leading engineering firm Afri-Coast Engineers and the operational director for the past 16 years, will retire at the end of this month [December 2014], leaving a major national mark on the industry.

Van Renen, a respected South African water engineering industry expert, said his career has “absolutely flown by” because he was “having fun”.

Reflecting on his time at Afri-Coast Engineers, Van Renen said he enjoyed growing the company from small beginnings in 1998 into a nationally recognised company. Some of the highlights of Van Renen’s career included the planning, design and construction of the R1.6-billion Nooitgedagt Water Scheme.

“The scheme was planned in 1988/9 by my office at the then Port Elizabeth Municipality. From the first phase to the final leg this has been an incredible high impact project.

“I started on the first phase, the high level supply, back in 1993. Even though I am retiring I will remain as the lead consultant on the last phases of the project which will, when completed, supply some 160 mega litres per day to the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality,” Van Renen said.  

In fact the highlight and lowlight of van Renen’s career are mutually intertwined with the Nooitgedagt Water Supply Scheme, which arose from one of the most severe droughts Port Elizabeth has ever seen, between 1988 to 1992.

The Port Elizabeth Municipality implemented several emergency schemes, including water rationing, while dam levels continued to drop to alarmingly low levels. Reporters were phoning me on a weekly basis asking what the plan B was. Just as the levels dropped to an all-time low of 12 per cent, it started to rain in the nick of time,” he said, recalling the crisis which brought the turnkey project about.

A long, fruitful career has left Van Renen “satisfied”. “I know that I have delivered what every engineer should – quality services to the people of our country.  Each piece of infrastructure on which I signed off will positively impact on the lives of many, this is a huge reward,” he said.

Now, with more time on his hands, Van Renen plans to improve his photography skills and knowledge of birdlife. He will also continue working the national lecture circuit for the Candidate Academy of the South African Institute of Civil Engineering (SAICE), passing his knowledge on to the younger generation of engineers and technicians.

Incoming Afri-Coast chief operating officer (COO) William Emslie, thanked Van Renen for his leadership and hard work. Emslie is tasked with guiding Afri-Coast Engineers into a new era.

“I am humbled by the upcoming opportunity and look forward to the challenge,” he said.

Before his appointment as COO, Emslie was a senior manager at Afri-Coast, responsible for the design, project management and implementation of civil and structural engineering projects. Prior to working for Afri-Coast Emslie was also involved in municipal engineering.

In his new position, Emslie will be responsible for management of the affairs of the entire company, including engineering, administration and financial affairs.

 Emslie added that Afri-Coast would, in the new year, announce some exciting company developments.