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Accolades for Aurecon at prestigious SAICE-SAFCEC Annual Awards

Geotechnical Engineer Gabrielle Wojtowitz

Dr Gabrielle Wojtowitz, Aurecon Geotechnical Engineer

03 November 2016 - Global engineering and infrastructure advisory company Aurecon was recognised for its outstanding contributions to the civil engineering profession at the South African Institute of Civil Engineers-South African Forum of Civil Engineering Contractors (SAICE-SAFCEC) Annual Awards function on 13 October 2016.

Adding to the company’s proud track record for engineering excellence, the Mokhotlong to Sani Pass Road project was the winner in both the categories of ‘Most Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement – International’ and ‘Transport Engineering Project for the Year’. The Young Engineer of the Year award went to Aurecon’s geotechnical engineer, Dr Gabrielle Wojtowitz. A commendation was awarded to the Kasane-Kazungula Villages Sanitation project in Botswana in the category of ‘Most Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement – International’.

The prestigious SAICE-SAFCEC Awards provide an opportunity for companies and individual engineers to showcase their achievements by giving recognition to well-engineered civil projects that portray the art and science of civil engineering. The Awards also display how the profession responds to society’s challenging infrastructure problems with innovative solutions.

Mokhotlong to Sani Pass Road project

“Aurecon’s awards for the Mokhotlong to Sani Pass Road project in Lesotho were especially noteworthy for displaying our commitment to collaborate with all stakeholders in a project to optimise the long-term benefits for the local community,” says Ferdi Nell, Aurecon Managing Director – Africa.

Economic development in the south-east of the Kingdom of Lesotho has been inhibited by the poor road access to KwaZulu-Natal in neighbouring South Africa. The road to Sani Pass fulfilled an important international trade, service and tourism function but was only accessible to all-terrain vehicles. When South Africa upgraded the Sani Pass, Lesotho’s Ministry of Public Works and Transport Roads Directorate (MoPWT) commissioned the construction of a new road to replace the 46 km gravel road between Mokhotlong and the Lesotho border post at Sani Pass to bitumen standard.

Aurecon provided all the engineering services for the project including the topographical survey of the 46 km route, the preliminary and detail design of the road, the design of two bridges and 18 major culvert structures. The challenging terrain on the route of the new road varies from sensitive wetlands to mountain passes, traversing an area with elevations between 2 500 and 3 000 metres, where structures are exposed to freeze and thaw conditions. Snow delayed the start of construction and extreme weather conditions frequently interrupted the work schedule.

Meticulous innovative design and project management overcame all challenges and the project team was complimented by the client on achieving a highly successful outcome that exceeded all expectations. The high-calibre new road will stimulate tourism, as well as general economic upliftment on both sides of the border. 

Young Engineer of the Year

Award-winning Young Engineer of the Year, Dr Gabrielle Wojtowitz, is a rising star in her field and has made significant contributions to the profession through her involvement in the SAICE Geotechnical Division, corporate Young Professional Forums, and her university work as an external examiner and invited lecturer.

Wojtowitz leads the Modelling Forum at Aurecon in the Ground Engineering team, which she uses as a platform to develop skills within the team and train junior engineers as well as for knowledge transfer. In line with her innovative problem solving capability, one of her unique technical strengths is her advanced numerical modelling capability that she employs extensively on projects to understand soil-structure interaction and the mechanisms governing a design. In addition to leading the geotechnical design on many wind farm projects, Wojtowitz is increasingly called on to act as design reviewer of wind turbine foundation designs. She has worked on a variety of projects in the United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, South Africa, Malawi, Mozambique, Angola, Tanzania, Kenya, Nigeria, Zambia, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

“The company is immensely proud of Gabrielle. This award reflects her exceptional design capabilities and the standing that she has already achieved in the industry,” says Nell.

Kasane-Kazungula Villages Sanitation project

In the northern part of Botswana, the topography of the Kasane and Kazungula villages presented challenges for traditional sanitation design. To overcome this, Aurecon developed a unique vacuum-based sanitation system, believed to be the largest of its kind in the world, to collect and transport the sewage. The highly successful solution for the Sanitation Project, has been designed to eventually serve 30 000 residents of the villages and also caters for high volumes of tourists a year.

The project required an exceptionally creative design solution, while its execution had to contend with a difficult location and logistical challenges. Aurecon provided engineering consultancy services that covered strategic design input including an inception report, preliminary design report and final design report for the new sanitation system. Operating flawlessly since its commissioning in October 2015, the innovative design and its reliable performance has created a basis for its replication in other areas of Africa.

“We are grateful to SAICE and SAFCEC for the recognition that these awards bring,” adds Nell. “From the outstanding projects in Lesotho and Botswana to the accolade for our talented young engineer, they all epitomise Aurecon’s strength at bringing ideas to life.”

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