Amid the sombre outlook that has engulfed the SA construction industry, the quarterly Afrimat Construction Index provides a sobering and alternative view on the state of the industry. Based on the struggles of a handful of iconic construction companies, it is easy to assume that the entire construction industry is on a downward trajectory, with no hope of recovery soon. The past decade has not been kind to some of the country’s well-established companies. Basil Read, Aveng and Group Five — which collectively boast a proud history of delivering legacy projects — have been losing enormous value due to declining public and private investment in infrastructure. These companies are a fraction of their total value a mere five years ago. Both Group Five and Aveng have lost more than 99% of their worth on the JSE in the past five years. Basil Read’s shares are suspended. But the state of these companies does not give the complete picture of the construction industry, says economist Roelof B...

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