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  • Durban?

    To all on the board.

    We are seriously considering a move to Durban, we run and own a construction business in the Uk, and would be seeking to purchase a simular biz close to Durban,

    But I have real worries as to the personal safety and security of my family!
    I understand that all places worldwide have their problems, we in the Uk have areas that are classed as high risk, but not in the same terms as, correct me, "South Africa"

    Can any members of the board inform me as to the real South Africa, as there is so much miss information and propagander, via the net and media. I am trying to get a fair view,and understanding!!

    We intend to visit this coming October 2005, would appriecate views from SA residents

    J and Hil

  • #2
    Originally posted by jandhil
    To all on the board.

    We are seriously considering a move to Durban, we run and own a construction business in the Uk, and would be seeking to purchase a simular biz close to Durban,

    But I have real worries as to the personal safety and security of my family!
    I understand that all places worldwide have their problems, we in the Uk have areas that are classed as high risk, but not in the same terms as, correct me, "South Africa"

    Can any members of the board inform me as to the real South Africa, as there is so much miss information and propagander, via the net and media. I am trying to get a fair view,and understanding!!

    We intend to visit this coming October 2005, would appriecate views from SA residents

    J and Hil
    J and Hil,

    Welcome to the board. Sorry to take so long to get back to you.

    I am not a Durbanite, and have only visited the city once. One of the forum members recently returned to Durban after a decade overseas, but now that he's "home", he doesn't log in very often. I can help you with some of the general questions about South Africa, and about construction/business in South Africa.

    I am a Civil Engineer and I worked for a South African consultancy in 1999/2000. Since then I've worked in consulting overseas. When I was growning up, my father worked as a sub-contractor in steel erection. I therefore have a reasonable understanding of the South African contracting world.

    My aunt and uncle emigrated from Devizes to Cape Town last year, my uncle selling his crop consulting business there, to invest the money in a day care business in Cape Town. Immigration was no problem for them, nor was bringing their money into the country.

    There are a few factors that will affect you in consulting, however. The most notable is BEE -- Black Economic Empowerment. The government is only allowed to award contracts to BEE firms, which means that you will either have to be a minority shareholder in the company you buy/start if you want to work directly on government contracts. It is possible that you could be a sub-contractor to a BEE firm, but I don't know about BEE restrictions on subcontracting. You should probably contact ECSA - the Engineering Council of South Africa for more information.

    Another issue is equipment. Equipment is subject to "luxury tax" on imports, and yes, all Caterpillar, etc plant is imported. Equipment is expensive in South Africa, is what it boils down to, so if you're interested in starting up your own company, you might want to look at the cost of keeping the equipment from your UK company and importing it as used, versus the cost of buying equipment in South Africa.

    You might also consider approaching companies that operate regionally, but not in Durban, with regards to opening up in Durban under their wing.

    Something you might come across that is different to the UK is labour-based construction. With 30-40% unemployment, the government frequently specifies a labour-based construction quota on contracts. Items like trench digging, clearing, etc. are carried out by hand.


    You asked about the unsafe areas. There certainly are many in South Africa. The "nice" areas usually have gated communities with 8' walls with electric fences on top. The "moderate" areas don't have the gated communities, but the fences are 6' and the windows have burglar bars and armed response alarms. Cars have anti-theft devices and hijacking occurs in Johannesburg and to a lesser degree in Durban.

    On the other hand, some aspects of the quality of life is awesome. Durban is an incredibly beautiful place. The sea is warm - around 20-25 degrees, depending on the season, the Drakensberg Mountains are majestic and the climate is fantastic. You might find the summers of Durban too hot and humid (upper 30's and close to 100% humidity), but the winters will seem like an English summer. The good schools offer an education infinitely better than the average UK school education, but universities are not as subsidised, and you will have to pay school fees (assuming you have children).

    I don't know why you've chosen Durban, but you might want to pick one of the other coastal cities. Cape Town is also sublime, and the smaller cities of East London, Knysna, George and Port Elizabeth are all growing, equally beautiful and have less crime.


    I wish you luck in your venture. I can identify some of the main contracting companies if you'd like to initiate contact with them. I highly recommend an LSD trip (Look, See and Decide).

    Ches

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    • #3
      Thanks

      Chez,many thanks for the info,and yr time and effort in the reply.

      I have to say, we are very excited about Port Elizabeth.it looks a stunning location,and we are currently arranging a visit.

      fly into Cape town,drive the "garden route to PE"

      I renovate and refurbish propertys in the UK,i have 3 staff + subbys
      unsure i can get a visa on the basis of me starting a similar business there in the Eastern cape,or whether i would need to purchase a going concern, in another field,in an effort to obtain the visa.

      Any thoughts?

      once again thanks for input much appreciated

      Jack

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by jandhil
        Ches,many thanks for the info,and yr time and effort in the reply.

        I have to say, we are very excited about Port Elizabeth.it looks a stunning location,and we are currently arranging a visit.

        fly into Cape town,drive the "garden route to PE"

        I renovate and refurbish propertys in the UK,i have 3 staff + subbys
        unsure i can get a visa on the basis of me starting a similar business there in the Eastern cape,or whether i would need to purchase a going concern, in another field,in an effort to obtain the visa.

        Any thoughts?

        once again thanks for input much appreciated

        Jack
        Jack,

        I suggest you consult the South African Home Affairs web page, and then see a lawyer after your trip to South Africa if you're worried about a smooth transition. If you plan on opening a business and hiring South Africans, and have capital to bring to the country, you shouldn't have much trouble.

        Breytenbachs attorneys in London deal with immigration issues. They're South Africans living in London and immigration is their specialty. In a previous thread, Woestynryer posted a link to their website. I believe I posted a link to the Dept of Home Affairs website in the same thread.

        Port Elizabeth is fondly known as the "Windy City" -- I'm not sure how it wrested the title from Cape Town, but winds can be extreme. On the other hand, the sea is warmer and it gets more sunshine than Cape Town. I personally prefer George and Knysna or even Plettenberg Bay and East London to Port Elizabeth.

        The South African housing market is exploding right now, on the order of the recent UK property boom. There might be some tidy cash to be made in buying, renovating and reselling houses.

        Some cautions with regard to taking on staff. South Africa's constitution was drawn up during multiparty negotiations, prior to the first democratic elections. Trade unions played a big role in CODESA (Congress for a Democratic South Africa) so the labour laws are highly skewed in favour of workers. It is incredibly difficult to fire an employee, so be careful who you hire. While you're on your trip, you might want to schedule an appointment with a local labour lawyer - a prophylactic hour of legal advice may save you a lot of grief and heartache in the future.

        Also on your trip, try to venture further up the coast than Port Elizabeth. East London is beautiful too, and by all accounts it's growing rapidly as well.

        When you're driving, you ought to be perfectly safe while on major routes. Beware of a few things, however:

        1. When turning off the N2 and heading inland, there are usually vast stretches between towns, sometimes on the order of 100km. Don't venture off with less than half a tank of petrol unless you know where you're going.

        2. Minibus taxis have their own interpretation of the rules of the road. Around holiday periods, it's common for minibus taxis to collide with each other head-on on the N2 and kill about 30 people.

        3. South Africans have become impatient, and they seem to regard the shoulder of the road as another lane. This is highly dangerous: the majority of fatalities on South African roads are pedestrians, who frequently walk in the shoulder of the road, even on the N2. Apparently South African drivers just don't care, however. If you don't pull over into the shoulder and let them pass - even on a blind corner or blind hill - they will tailgate you, gesticulate at you, and generally drive like even bigger morons than they were before when they were going 160km/h. Please do not drive in the shoulder of the road.

        4. If you don't know where you're going, and you're not going on the N2, don't drive at night.

        There have been incidents of tourists being attacked, raped, murdered, hijacked, etc. in South Africa. The usual formula for these crimes of opportunity is that the tourists were driving around slowly, lost, in a dodgy area at night.

        Best of luck and enjoy your trip (remember that you'll be going in winter).
        Ches

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