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‘If A Man Can Do It, A Woman Can’: Quebecer Breaking Barriers in Construction

A Canadian immigrant is breaking gender stereotypes on construction sites as she helps rebuild Quebec’s largest interchange.

Shengnan Li is helping make inroads for the massive five-year project by operating an articulated dump truck, transporting materials to and from the site.

“The road will be there for many many years and I can tell my daughter, ‘See mommy built that’,” said Li in an interview with CTV National’s Vanessa Lee.

The 35-year-old arrived in Quebec from Tianjin, China in 2007, “with two suitcases” and a diploma in computer sciences. She intended to earn a master’s degree in management.

But two weeks before graduation, she says she had a change of heart.

“I’m a girl who likes action and to try new things and some adventures and then I realized that management is not for me,” she laughed.

Turning to a job skills questionnaire, Li was matched with a heavy machinery operator — a surprise to both her and her civil engineer father.

“He works in big construction sites in Beijing and he told me ‘Oh, there’s big machinery like [an] excavator and bulldozer that maybe you can try but I cannot imagine you doing that,'” said Li.

Despite the surprising result, Li signed up for the trade program and says she hasn’t looked back since.

“The first day for me, it was a little bit scary because I’m so small, so little and the big machinery is so big, so high,” said Li. She added that “if a man can do it, a woman can do it too.”

Li was previously recognized by the Elles Committee of Quebec for her determination to break stereotypes in the construction field after working on several major projects in the province.

She said the male dominated trade is gaining more female representation every year.

“First year, I see maybe three women working here, but now it’s 17,” says Li.

According to the Quebec Construction Commission, there are currently 3,520 women in the construction trades.

Li says she is proud to be one of those women and hopes she encourages other females to join the trade.

Source – CTV NEWS

Rent Increases Are Unsustainable, Says Housing Minister

The average national rent is 1,202 euro per month, 21% higher than the peak in 2007, according to the latest Rent Index from the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB).

The average monthly rent between April and June of this year rose by 79 euro compared to 1,123 euro during the same period last year.

On a quarter-on-quarter basis, rents grew nationally by 3% in the second quarter of 2019.

The average monthly rent in Dublin is 32% higher than the 2007 peak where where the standardised average rent is now 1,713 euro per month, up from 1,599 euro in the same quarter the previous year.

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In our key employment areas, but particularly in Dublin, rents have reached unsustainable levels

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy
Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy said the ongoing rent increases are not sustainable and that new properties coming to the market are contributing to rent inflation.

He said: “In our key employment areas, but particularly in Dublin, rents have reached unsustainable levels. This is precisely why the Government and Oireachtas moved to strengthen rent controls and renter protections in June of this year.

“We do need new rental properties and I welcome the more than 3,440 new tenancies created since the start of the year. This is an important turnaround on what was happening in 2018 when landlords were exiting the market. While it may be pushing rent inflation upwards, new supply will help those in housing insecurity.”

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy
Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy Credit: Niall Carson/PA
Outside of Dublin, the standardised average rent is considerably less, standing at 903 euro.

The report found differences in average rents across the country ranging from 2,328 euro per month in Stillorgan, Co Dublin, to 489 euro in Lifford-Stranorlar, Co Donegal.

Average rent exceeds (or equals) 1,000 euro per month in seven counties – Cork, Dublin, Galway, Kildare, Louth, Meath and Wicklow.

Limerick falls just under this 1,000 euro threshold with a standardised average rent of 991 euro.

The report authors said the high rental levels in these areas relative to other counties “reflects the concentration of demand close to the country’s largest employment hubs.”

RTB director Rosalind Carroll said while the pace of rental growth has slowed since the last quarterly report, the continued growth levels over consecutive quarters is “not sustainable”.

“There has been significant legislative change implemented in the last four months and since the 1st July the RTB has increased powers to investigate and sanction non-compliance with Rent Pressure Zone measures, in particular where there is knowing non-compliance. It will take time to see the impact of these changes. Our first investigations under these new powers have now been officially commenced,” said Ms Carroll.

First introduced in December 2016, rent-pressure zones are designated areas where rents cannot be increased by more than 4% per annum. This applies to new and existing tenancies.


Court summons AGF, EFCC over Yari’s property

The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday, summoned the Attorney General of the Federation and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, to appear before it over plans to seize the property of the immediate past Governor of Zamfara State, Mr Abdulaziz Yari.

Justice Nkeonye Maha, who gave the order after listening to the arguments canvassed in a motion exparte by counsel to Yari, Mahmud Magaji, SAN, adjourned the matter until August 30.

The motion ex parte, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/948/2019, was brought pursuant to section 46(1) and (3) of the 1999 constitution and order 4, rule 3 and 4, of the fundamental rights (enforcement procedure) rules 2009.

The AGF is the 1st respondent while the EFCC is the 2nd respondent in the suit.

Justice Maha equally ordered that the respondents be served with the court processes within 48 hours before he adjourned further proceedings.

IT Procurement Fraud Ring Targets Federal Agencies

A fraud ring with Nigerian roots is leveraging the Department of Homeland Security’s procurement operations to steal thousands of dollars worth of IT gear from vendors, according to a report by the agency’s inspector general.

Fraudsters based in the U.S. and in Nigeria, according to a report issued by the DHS OIG on July 16, have been masquerading as DHS and other federal agency procurement officials to issue fake bid solicitations to commercial IT equipment vendors.

The OIG said it became aware of the scam last July, when it discovered members of a criminal ring based in Atlanta impersonating a DHS procurement officer to get shipments of computer equipment.

Referencing legitimate DHS solicitations for laptops, hard drives and smart phones and using the name of an actual DHS procurement official, said the report, the crooks faxed or emailed bogus orders to federal contractors across the U.S.

The crooks used spoofed government email addresses that were close to actual federal addresses, but slightly off, such as “rrb-gov.us,” according to the report. They also used headers ripped off of legitimate federal government emails, but the reply line used a slightly warped, non-governmental address, it said. In some cases, it said the group also refused to communicate via email and insisted on fax communications.

Leveraging the phony RFQs and other tactics, the group had vendors ship IT equipment to vacant commercial buildings. Once the equipment arrived at those desolate locations, the OIG said the group’s ringleader decided whether to resell the gear in the U.S. or ship it to Nigeria.

The vendors were left holding the bag for the loss.

The OIG said it found the gang was also using the scam to steal equipment not only from DHS, but also from other big federal agencies, including the Departments of Commerce, Defense, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, Labor and Transportation, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Securities and Exchange Commission. The group even targeted the relatively tiny Railway Retirement Board.

Some of the buys, it said, were worth “hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

The OIG advised vendors to protect themselves by getting agency procurement officers’ telephone number and use them to confirm that an RFQ is legitimate. It also advised vendors to carefully scrutinize email address and to be wary of “purported procurement officials” who steer clear of email communications in favor of faxes. Typographical and grammatical errors, it said, should also set off alarm bells.

Source: Mark Rockwell

RENTAL WATCH: What are the rights of landlords and tenants

A landlord who allows a prospective tenant to view the dwelling and is then informed by the tenant that he has decided to take occupation or has taken occupation, may prejudice his/her rights. If the tenant has taken occupation and the deposit that was agreed upon was not paid, the landlord would have compromised himself/herself.

The onus rests on the landlord to establish the bona fides (good faith, integrity) of the prospective tenant. After all, the tenant would be given possession of the dwelling; to use and enjoy, and, to have temporary ownership. In reality, the owner or landlord guarantees the tenant the following:

Physical control over the property with all its accessories.

Unhindered possession of the property

Undisturbed use and enjoyment of the property.

In Soffiantini v Mould (1956) 4 All SA 171 (E), the landlord lost his case on appeal to the full bench. The tenant succeeded earlier in the High Court, in interdicting the landlord from entering the premises without consent.

The landlord believed he had unrestricted right of entry to the leased premises. He attempted to have the electricity supply to the lift shut off. He believed that, as the owner of the property and the landlord (of 82 Oxford Street, East London), he had the right to be in the property rented out to his tenant, Maison Centrale Hairdressing Saloon.

He walked into the rented property on five separate instances and even asked the tenant’s customers to leave on one occasion.

Judges Jennett and Wynne agreed with the judgment of Judge President Price that “the landlord is not entitled to enter the leased premises without the consent of the tenant”. In other words, a tenant becomes a temporary owner during the lease period and the landlord’s right is restricted.

As for temporary ownership, can a tenant claim more than the right to “temporary ownership” once the lease period has expired or lawfully terminated? Does a tenant not have a right to security of tenure? Does a tenant have the right to continue to occupy after the lease is cancelled and after the court grants an eviction order? Is a private owner obliged to provide permanent or semi-permanent accommodation to tenants?

A case in point is where the new owner-landlord terminated the leases of 18 tenants of Lowliebenhof, a ten-storey building in Braamfontein, Johannesburg.

Tenants refused to vacate and the landlord brought an application to have the tenants evicted before the South Gauteng High Court, Johannesburg. Van der Riet AJ granted eviction orders against nine tenants – two tenants were not evicted since their leases were not properly terminated.

The judge was of the view that evicting the remaining seven tenants would render them homeless. He therefore suspended their evictions for three months so that the City of Johannesburg could be joined as a party to the proceedings, to provide a report as to the steps it would take to provide alternative accommodation.


The tenants appealed against the judgment of Van der Riet. The appeal was heard before five judges of the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA). This was the case of Maphango and others v Aengus Lifestyle Properties (Pty) Ltd (2011) 3 All SA 535 (SCA). The SCA looked at several issues that included whether a tenant had a claim to security of tenure after the termination of a lease.

The question was if a landlord could increase rentals by cancelling the leases, after the initial fixed period had lapsed. Can a landlord terminate a periodic (monthly) lease that followed a fixed term lease and offer a new lease with a rent increase and different contractual terms?

Is the landlord not precluded by the tacit terms of the agreement?

After discussing the legal principles, rules and several decided cases, the court found the landlord could do so.

The second argument was that terminating the lease for the purposes of a rent increase goes against public policy. The tenants’ contention in this regard was based on three grounds (paragraph 12(b) of the judgment):

(a) That the termination would be unreasonable and unfair;

(b) That it would constitute an infringement of their constitutional right to have access to adequate housing in terms of section 26(1) of the Constitution;

(c) That it constituted an “unfair practice” as contemplated in the Rental Housing Act 50 of 1999, read with the Gauteng Unfair Practice Regulations 2001, promulgated under that Act.

Brand J examined the above in terms of the relevant laws and regarding security of tenure. He explained that an owner had an indefinite right to security of tenure in terms of his or her right to possess property. A tenant’s right to security of tenure was linked to the duration of the lease.

“Beyond the period of the lease, the lessee has no security of tenure If the lease is for say 10 years, it goes without saying that the lessee’s security of tenure is for 10 years only. If after 10 years the lessor insists that the lease has been terminated through effluxion of time, no one will suggest that such insistence amounts to an infringement of the lessee’s security of tenure under section 26(1) of the constitution. Perhaps less obvious is the situation where the lease is terminated on notice. But the principle remains the same.

The parties agreed at the outset that the lessee’s tenure can be terminated on notice. What this amounts to, is an agreement that the lessee’s security of tenure will never endure beyond the end of the notice period,” (paragraph 29).

In essence, the court held that a tenant’s right ceases once the lease ends, and termination of the lease is therefore not an infringement of the tenant’s right to security of tenure.

Source: Dr Sayed Iqbal Mohamed 

Radical new housing deal proposed to break apartheid barriers

While over half a million Capetonians live in informal settlements, the Rondebosch Golf Club pays the City of Cape Town only R1 000 a month for the use of 450 000 square metres of well-situated land.

With a full membership costing R15 750 a year, and fees of about R150 to play a round in off-peak times, the golf course is inaccessible to the vast majority of residents, including those who live around it.

The golf club’s lease with the city is contained in a new report on city-owned land by civil society organisation Ndifuna Ukwazi, which also states that some of the best land in the city “is being used as a dog play park” for the @Frits Pet Hotel and Daycare Centre, described as the largest of its kind in the world.

The report, City Leases: Cape Town’s Failure to Redistribute Land, proposes a “radical new deal” for housing on 24 areas of city-owned land, including golf courses, bowling greens, country clubs, and parking lots. These range across the breadth of the city, from Camps Bay to Strand to Fish Hoek.

Detailed proposals are provided for five of the areas:

Rondebosch Golf Club
Buitengracht corridor
Harrington Square (parking lot)
Green Point Bowling Green
Fish Hoek Bowling Green.

The Rondebosch golf course is the largest area. Two-thirds of the golf course is above the 100-year floodline, and Ndifuna Ukwazi calculates the land could offer 183 360 square metres of built space for a mainly residential development that includes communal space, offices, shops, schools, and social amenities.

Depending on the mix of social and market-related housing, about 2 500 residential units could be built there, says the report. These would include single stands and mid- to high-density apartment blocks as a mixture of market-related, social and GAP homes (GAP housing is subsidised by the state for people earning R3 500 to R15 000 per month), set in green space along the Black River.

Three scenarios

The authors – Nick Budlender, Julian Sendin and Jared Rossouw – calculated scenarios for Rondebosch golf course in which residential units are built according to a 40% market-related and 60% social housing split (including 20% for GAP housing); a 50-50 split between market and social housing; and a 60-40 split.

The square meterage of individual units in the calculations ranges from 50m² for a market bachelor flat and 30m² bachelor for social housing, while a two-bedroom flat built for the market would be 70m² and one built for social housing would be 45m², which is the average size of an RDP house.

There could also be 116 free-standing homes on 400m² each, and 454 two-bedroom GAP houses of 55m², all set within public and semi-private green space with a promenade along the Black River providing direct pedestrian access to Mowbray.

The 30 separate blocks could each be owned through sectional title schemes and, ideally, would each contain a mix of social and market housing rather than economic differences being divided into separate blocks.

Similar modelling is done for the Harrington Square parking lot, the seven parcels of land which are mostly used as parking lots on lower Buitengracht Street, and for the Green Point Bowling Green, which the report states deputy mayor Ian Neilson has publicly committed for social housing.

For Fish Hoek, which has a density of 884 people per km² while nearby Masiphumelele bursts with a density of more than 40 000 people per km² (2011 data), the proposal is for 171 units built as three-storey walk-ups all dedicated to social housing.

Produced for GroundUp by West Cape News.

Source: MoneyWeb

Are small cities the smartest?

When you hear of urban transformations, you tend to think of high-rise mega-cities like Shanghai, Dubai or Hong Kong. Or if it’s technological advances, San Francisco and Silicon Valley might come to mind.

But, the cities at the forefront of this growing urban revolution are often the unexpected.
Take Kalasatama, a city being built from scratch on the outskirts of Helsinki, Finland. Developers say that by its completion in 2030, residents will get an average hour of their day back by living there.

City residents will never again be stuck behind a rubbish lorry on their commute. Engineers have outfitted the whole city with a vacuum waste system,where people simply take their trash to a port and it gets sucked to an underground disposal center.
Another time-saving design is the city layout itself. Public services, such as schools, hospitals and transportation are close to one another and easily accessible.
“Five more minutes walking in the park, five more minutes with the kids before I have to leave for work, five more minutes earlier at home when I don’t have to spend on logistics,” Kerkko Vanhanen, the program director for Smart Kalasatama, tells CNN.
“Your life is easier because of living in the most functional city in the world,” he adds.
However, only 3,500 people currently live in Kalasatama. By 2030, developers hope to have housed 24,000 people and created 10,000 jobs.


With 68% of humanity expected to live in urban areas by 2050, according to a 2019 UN report, urban expansion and innovation are vital.
This is not a new phenomenon: such transformations have been going on for centuries, from city planning in Mesopotamia 17th-Century canal systems in Amsterdam installed for defense and water management.

But now development is less about infrastructure and more about an interconnected system of devices, known as the Internet of Things (IoT).
Cisco defines the IoT as the point in time when more “things or objects” were connected to the Internet than people. It estimates that by 2020 there will be 50 billion ”things”talking to each other.
With the shift to 5G and superfast bandwidth speeds, IoT has the potential to make cities more convenient — enabling technology such as traffic sensors or autonomous drones.

New meets old

Cities don’t have to be custom-built to be able to unlock this potential. The ancient cliffside city of Matera in southern Italy is working to become one of the first 5G-enabled cities in Europe.
It believes 5G can help it become a center of digital tourism, using technology such as Virtual Reality to show off the cultural and artistic heritage of the city that was named European Capital of Culture in 2019.
“There’s been a real focus to rejuvenate this area. And to make it a center first of all of tourism but also to take efforts to make it a place for investment in an industry,” says Jonathan Reichental, an expert on emerging technology trends in urban environments.

Citizen data

High-tech conveniences come at the cost of sharing personal data.
“Data about you is used for delivering all sorts of both public and private services. And people are concerned about what that means to their privacy,” says Reichental.
As smart cities evolve, governments need to gain the trust of citizens to use their private data responsibly, says Udo Kock, deputy mayor of Amsterdam, where an open data program is helping to make it one of Europe’s most innovative environments.
“Don’t think of Smart Cities as just a technology solution, think of it as collaboration. Involve communities, involve citizens and it’s very important for governments to work together with businesses and private citizens,” says Kock.
Source: By Nell Lewis, Carla Howe and Jenny Marc/cnn.com

Should construction companies learn from their in-house data?

The construction industry involves a lot of data, from pre to post-construction. This involves construction data revolving around the planning stages, construction site information, accounting, workflow, job cost management, project management and much more.

However, while a lot of information exists that contractors could use to save time and money, this information remains underutilized because of the lack of the right tools to collect and analyze data in ways that would have significant project results. Fortunately, this is now all about to change.

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How to get the best out of your construction data

Contractors are now discussing and considering different solutions and visiting construction software conferences, with the entire industry  looking for more efficient ways to get smart about data. So what factors are necessary for subcontractors to get involved in construction data analytics technology and software?
A better overview about your project will naturally save you both time and money on current projects. But it will also help in terms of your future projects. Here are some of the major advantages:

  • Contractors can obtain a comprehensive suite of solutions for the entire company, allowing you to control every step of the process. You can imagine how many project movements take place during the day. But you can reduce these moves to a minimum, saving yourself and others a lot of time in the process.
  • All contractors can benefit from data tracking analysis. True data analytics is more than simply tracking down job costs and cash flow. Data analysis can also prevent future problems and risks to your business, as it allows for far more accuracy in future projects with increased efficiencies. Analyzing data results in better plans and predictive analyses, and being on time and in total control over your budget lends you a good reputation, which in turn leads to a higher number of clients. In other words, while
  • data analytics can solve your project tasks and problems on a current project, it will likewise help to make predictive analyses with more and better insight for the same kind of projects in the future.

To take full advantage of data analytics software, you need to understand the right tools for the job as well as your bottleneck.

A construction management software or ERP solution could be essential in order to stream your data across the company.

From project management to accounting, all processes need to be in order. A software solution or internal ERP system can help to communicate with different parts of company units, thereby using collected and stored data more efficiently. From that data analysis, everyone can work with higher success and provide good values for business models. An ERP system and construction data analytics solution can demonstrate hidden values that remained previously unseen.

One important question remains: what can be done with that data and what can be done to improve overall effectiveness, saving your company time and money? This question is being answered by firms who are hiring professionals to get the most out of the business intelligence process.

These new and highly efficient software solutions and tools link all units with different, often complex operations into one integrated system. The solutions provide excellent support, from small building projects to large, with such an innovative approach ushering in a new era for the construction data industry.

Source: oilvoice.com

Japan: Construction sector tries to defy demographics with data

Blue-collar workers can afford to be picky when considering job prospects thanks to Japan’s historically tight labor market. That means few enter construction, where the hours are long and the pay is relatively low.

The Fund for Construction Industry Promotion, a trade association, has a plan to draw more laborers to the business. In April it will roll out a new database that will aggregate workers’ experience and qualifications to help match them with employers. In addition to smoothing out personnel transactions, the system’s creators believe it will lead to better pay and working conditions.

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Construction has been particularly hard-hit by Japan’s labor shortage. Manufacturing, which offers higher pay and shorter working hours, attracts more workers.

The construction sector’s problem will only worsen as Japan’s population ages. A government study projects the country’s workforce to shrink 20% by 2040, and few young people are eager to join the trade.

The new database is expected to help workers employed by low-level subcontractors who are stuck with low pay and few benefits.

These laborers often sign up for temporary, irregular work, making it difficult for other employers to evaluate their expertise. With all of their experience accumulated in one place, companies will be able to actively recruit talented workers at higher pay. Better wages may also help attract younger recruits.

“This system is a great opportunity to get more young workers into the industry,” said Takashi Ueda, who overseas the construction site of an office building in Tokyo.

55 different specialties will be recorded in the system, so if there is a regional shortage of scaffolders, specialists from another area could look for jobs there.

“If we can gather a lot of data, benefits may emerge that we hadn’t even thought of,” said a manager of the database at the trade association.

The system, which is currently operating on a trial basis, has already registered about 17,000 workers. The association hopes to have 1 million registered within the first year of operation, and all of the industry’s roughly 3.3 million workers within 5 years.

Source: asia.nikkei.com

Is virtual reality the future of building construction?

40% of architects and designers say technology will have biggest impact on the  industry in next 18 months.In fact, technology was identified by 40% of research respondents as having the biggest impact on the design process in the next 18 months, followed by a renewed focus on fire safety (28%) and new regulations (23%).

The study surveyed 250 architects and designers across the UK to gauge their opinions on the use of technology in the design process, their use of flame in projects, and the overall challenges faced.

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Three quarters (74%) of architects and designers are already using digital technology to visualise projects during the building process, while a further 20% don’t currently use it but seek to do so in future.

Just more than one-third (34%) believe smart technologies are already influencing the industry, 23% said they believed trends like virtual reality would impact in the next six months, and 24% said augmented reality would make its mark in the next 18 months.

“There’s little doubt that technology is making the lives of architects and interior designers easier. But what the research shows is that technology adoption isn’t slowing down, with respondents placing a strong focus on virtual reality, augmented reality, and other technologies such as robotics, 3D printing and modelling and even the use of drones in the short and longer-term future”

“This focus on technology, and indeed the appetite for it, is reflected in our own business, with a lot of demand for flame technology and flame effects as an alternative to real flame installations.”

The majority of respondents (78%) said they had concerns over including flame in their projects, but 53% noted if safer technology was available, they would reconsider.

Source: pbctoday.co.uk

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