Friday, 26 November 2010

Friday November 26th.

Well, well well

All good things must come to an end, our adventure in South Africa comes to an end today.

We started early for Secunda for our final meeting, leaving at 06:30. Pam was with us and it was a rough ride, swerving the potholes on the road.

Following we have had a hearty breakfast at Wimpy we convened at the meeting. We should have loyalty cards from Wimpy because since we arrived we have eaten there every day. It gets a bit concerning when you walk in and they ask you if you want your “usual”.

 Anyway back to serious business: the meeting! It went really well and we covered all topics with skill and panache. We have done a good job ,considering the hurdles we have had to deal with, and it has turned out pretty well. The main problem was the fact that there wasn't web access to communicate. We left the South African part of the team (Gert Sibande and Pixley Ka Seme) with the agreement that these problems will be sorted in the coming weeks, making it possible for the MIS system to be active this year.

We were presented with a “Thank You” mug and Pam took some photos for the SSDC Newsletter. Hands were shaken and we parted for the run to Joburg. The pothole swerve was used on many occasions, mainly to upset those of us trying to get some shut-eye in the back. On the other hand, without our driver we would have been nowhere, so many thanks to Marcel.
Mark is waiting for the hard disk of our film debut. The film shows what our goal was in South-Africa and what highlights issues we had to deal with. We are now sitting at Mugg and Bean in OR Tambo writing the blog and killing time. The fact that we can tease each other and have a laugh about things really helped us.
On behalf of all South Africans, Pam would like to express her thanks and gratitude to Imtech and for all the hard work and effort they have put into this project.

We are now saying goodbye to Pam, were flying to Durban in one hour.

That’s All Folks!

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Thusday November 25th 2010

Hi Folks,

After only a few weeks of intense planning, the community awareness has risen. Elmarie van der Merwe did an incredible job of planning and implementing the programme as well as organizing the schools competition. She also put together a mini exhibition on the causes of water pollution as well as the conservation of water. Nikki enlightened the children about importance and the function of waste water and clean water treatment plants.
There was some stiff competition but the judges unanimously chose Nkosingiphile Makhubela, a grade 3 pupil from Phembindlela Primary School. Second prize went to Amanda Nhlapho, a grade 7 pupil from Amersfoort Primary. Third place went to Londiwe Nsuntsha of Gunwana. Two of the essays were written in English and one in Zulu. These students come from extremely underprivileged families and were tremendously appreciative of their winnings. The school of the winning student received ZAR 15,000 to help them improve their facilities.

We are busy with completing the business plan and other paperwork, as well as we have to prepare the presentation for tomorrow.

Mark and Christophe have been getting the Training Manual finalised. Christophe went with Marcel to Amersfoort and Volksrust to upload some software into the PLC units. This has now completed their activities. Christophe has also been busy reformatting the documents and getting things printed out ready for the meeting.

Nikki has finished the design documents and now everything is printed out.

Marcel has been trying to sort out the web based communications, but unfortunately we still don't have them! His mood is not great but we reached the stage to believe that it will be okay, we can do little more now.
The good news is that the guys have managed to install wireless internet into the lodge where we are staying. There was a connection with internet before but it was not wireless. Christophe installed a router to make a wireless connection but it was a very weak signal in the main part of the lodge. So, the router that the lodge already owned was taken out and installed to help improve the signal strength. This worked really well and so they now have wireless internet in the main part of the lodge! This has helped us a lot and will help them too as they have a better system for business people.

 We are now pretty much ready for tomorrow and will have an early start to travel to Secunda. Our evening will exist of a nice dinner and of course with some drinks!

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Wednesday 24th November 2010

Hello Bloggers,

After breakfast (some of us are eating a lot off eggs) we went to ‘our office’ again and did some work over there.We were filmed and interviewed today by Makwena en Meshak. We went with them to the WwTW of Volksrust. They took some interviews with Nikki, Christophe, Mark, Elmarie, Stean and the plant operators. Maybe after this some of us gonna bee fired, but we did our best.

Marcel has had a meeting with two guys, who would take care of fixed IP adress. At the end of the day it didn’t work so we are back to square one.
Nikki did her best to look nice before the camera and to finish writing the business plan. This is not easy for an old witch with a hooked nose, warts and a bat for a best friend!
Christophe rounded up the manual of installing the hardware of the MIS.

 Tonight, we will have a nice dinner and a good night sleep!

We’ll be back tomorrow!

Wednesday November 24th 2010

Hello All you Loyal Blog Followers,

This is a late posting as we were all a bit busy yesterday!
We are nearing the completion of the project and have 3 days to go. Today (Wednesday) we are due to have some more filming, this time at Volksrust Wastewater Treatment Plant. The camera crew will travel from Johannesburg, to come here this morning.

The rest of the project is slowly coming together and we are compiling the presentation for Friday. There are still a lot of loose ends to tie up and it will be good to get them sorted.

Pam is coming over tonight so that she can join us at the Awareness event at Vukuzakhe tomorrow. There will be lots of exhibitions about water and the importance of good sanitation. The event is meant for local school children from eleven schools. Yesterday there was a judging of an essay competition where some of the children had written about water. Prizes for the essays will be presented at the event.

We still do not have 3G access and so the web based communications cannot be achieved. This is a real problem for the project. Marcel has been exploring every avenue to solve this and to reroute the communications in another way, no stone has been unturned!!

Christophe has been busy making a training manual for the MIS installation and he is currently drawing out the wiring schemes. He has done a great job. (even Nikki understands what he has done, which means they must be excellent!!!)

Mark has been working with Nikki to sort out the presentation for Friday and he is also getting costs together for the installation of the MIS hardware on the sites. Nikki is still working on the business plan, operational manuals and other documents that need to be completed before Friday.

We will say “Au Revoir” for now and we will inform you about our next exciting installment as soon as we can!


Monday, 22 November 2010

Monday November 22nd

Yo Ho Ho,

We’re bad, we’re mad and we’re back with another round of challenge and problem solving!

Team 2, weary from their expedition were back in the office with a fresh new outlook. The demands of the project were reassed and plans made to deliver the remainder of the tasks with flair and determination.  That may be easier said than done but hey, we have no option.

Anyway, we have made some progress with the business plan and the training documentation. This has kept Nikki, Christophe and Mark tied up in the office all day. Marcel has been busy sourcing other options for delivering the web based communications. He has to go to Newcastle tomorrow to test the system with a dealer in wireless systems.

His hair is gradually growing back as he is finding some new ways forward.

This week will be busy and will soon be gone. Tomorrow Mark and Chrsitophe will go to Amersfoort to complete the installation and testing of the system over there. They will then be finished and unable to progress further until the web based coms are in.

Nikki will be trying to complete the reports and business planning documentation, as well as planning out the structure for the final presentation.
We have the film crew coming over on Wednesday and Pam will be joining us Wednesday night, ready for the Awareness day on Thursday.

It’s all starting to get very interesting.

Ciao for Now.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Sunday November 21st 2010.

Evening Bloggers,

Well we are back from Kruger and have had a great weekend. Yesterday we left our guesthouse at 0630 and arrived at the Numbi gate around 1230. The journey was pretty good but peppered with delays due to the road building activites on the N11.

After booking into our bungalows at Pretoriuskop, we decided to take a little trip out to see what wildlife might be in the neighbourhood. It started badly with very little showing itself. However, we ended up having an really good experience. We saw loads of rhinocerous, zebra, elephants, giraffe, impala, dung rolling beetles, tortoise and other interesting animals as well as lots of birds.

This morning we started out from our camp at 0430. This mornings expedition was not as successful as last nights but we saw wildebeast, impala (loads), giraffe, buffalo, warthogs and hyena. One female hyena was lying by the road with her two cubs, which was lovely to see. There were also some Hippos in a pool and lots of birds about. We didn’t see anymore Elephant or Rhino but we saw other animals instead.

We journeyed back through Swaziland, which was beautiful. Much greener and more mountainous than the parts of Mpumulanga that we have seen. Coming back to the guesthouse we took the road to Amsterdam to avoid the delays on the N11 and came through some wonderful countryside. Very green with rolling hills and lots of tree plantations for the local sawmills and paper mills.

Arriving back at 1630 we then made some work plans and had a pizza!! The sun has shone all the time and now we have been watching a lightning display in the clouds. Perhaps we will have a thunderstorm tonight.

Tomorrow we are back to the office to crack on with the outstanding issues. We have many and the web based communication problem is now getting serious.

Well I guess we had better go and find some beer!!

“ That’s All Folks”

Friday, 19 November 2010

Friday November 19th 2010

Hi dear bloggers!

The end of the first week and we have achieved a lot but still have a long way to go!!!

Mark and Christophe installed the equipent at Amersfoort Water Treatment Works and have been able to prove the communications between the pumps and the PLC. At this site we have taken signals from two large water pumps feeding the Daggakraal community reservoir.

We are also hoping to take the signal from the flow meter from the dam. However, to do this we need to understand the wiring and this is something we will have to find out. We have not been able to take the signals from the dosing pumps as originally planned.

Marcel has spent the day in Secunda sorting out the communications problems and trying to find a way around the obstacles that we have. Time is getting short now. It is important that we get the web based communications going otherwise the systems we have installed will not be able to communicate with the main computer in Secunda and the whole point of the MIS will be missed.

Luckily Marcel was able to get some communications of the citec system updated and connected to the MIS without a remote network. We still do not have a fixed IP address and the municipality and the district have still not been able to deliver the web based communications facility.

Nikki accompanied Mark and Christophe to Amersfoort. She was working on the business plan with one of the PCs. This does not seem as exciting as drilling and fixing!

We have been able to get some accommodation in Kruger Park for tomorrow night and so we will travel over early tomorrow morning. Unfortunately we only booked it this morning and so there was not a lot left – it will be a bit of a mystery until we get there!!

See you next time!