‘Forgotten Act’ could spur economic development

Government and industry should not forget the Infrastructure Development Act (IDA), promulgated in 2014, and the impact it could have on economic development, says legal service provider LNP Attorneys chief executive Nikita Lalla, especially now that the economy is slowly opening up.

LNP Attorneys are specialists in the energy, natural resources and infrastructure sectors.

Although the Act has been “forgotten”, it could play a crucial role in assisting with economic development if implemented correctly, she adds.

The IDA provides for the facilitation and coordination of public infrastructure development that is of “significant economic or social importance”. It ensures that infrastructure development is prioritised in planning, approval and implementation to ensure that the development goals of the State are promoted through such development and to improve the management thereof during all life-cycle phases, says Lalla.

Despite the Act not having a direct influence on the mining industry, she points out that it can still impact on sectors involved in ensuring that commodities reach the market. These include the supporting infrastructure for mines, sectors involved in community development, and those directly and indirectly involved in the mining process.

“The consulting engineering sector and the mining sector are being forced to do things differently, and this is a great time to look at methodologies and lobbying government to use the Act to get the surrounding supporting infrastructure going.”

Lalla adds that implementing the Act will ensure that the relevant individuals are communicating with one another and ensure that plans are fast-tracked to assist with economic development.

“It is important to note that although the Act assists in fast-tracking plans, it does not ignore any procurement regulations.”

Meanwhile, Covid-19 is forcing industries and businesses to operate differently, owing to the health and safety and physical distancing requirements, says Lalla.

She points out that companies should see this as an opportunity to integrate innovative initiatives that use technology and artificial intelligence (AI).

This is where consulting engineers can assist mining operations with operations, subsequently ensuring productivity and efficiency throughout the production line.

She believes that AI and technology have a role to play in ensuring that mining operations adhere to the health and safety regulations set out by government to assist in reducing the Covid-19 infection rate.

Lalla concludes that companies should remain positive and see it as an opportunity to re-evaluate and adjust their operations to become more efficient.