Four of the seven JSE-listed construction groups that signed a voluntary settlement agreement with the government for rapid transformation across the industry made losses in their most recent reporting periods. The other three hardly shot the lights out. These groups are well known for their versatility and expertise across numerous construction sectors — mining, road and rail, airports, oil and gas, manufacturing and processing, energy and water, to name a few. It is a pity then that their net worth is several times less than it was at the height of the 2010 World Cup build in SA. Some of the blame — for alleged collusion and profit-gouging — lies squarely on their shoulders. But there are many other reasons for their decline in fortunes, not least SA’s dread of inflation, both in the private and public sectors. Investec chief economist Annabel Bishop says that despite SA’s growth having essentially stalled in 2016, the Reserve Bank has not given any indication whether interest rat...

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