A 40-year veteran is among the team of Cuban engineers who have come to help SA resolve its water infrastructure problems.
Ramón B Vega Laugart has previously worked for SA’s water and sanitation department, and in other developing countries like Algeria and Venezuela.
His CV states he graduated in civil engineering at the Universidad de Oriente in Cuba.
He specialised in hydraulic engineering at the University of Belgrade and has a Master of Science degree from the University of Havana.
Vega Laugart said he has been working in the hydraulic sector since 1980, including inhis hometown, Santiago de Cuba.
“I have practical professional experience in the activities of construction, projects, operation and maintenance of hydraulic works: dams, pumping stations, large water pipelines, canals, transfer schemes, water treatment works, wastewater treatment work, wastewater systems and small hydroelectric power-plants,” he said.
He has a good relationship with local teams, Vega Laugart said.
“I worked in the SA department of water and sanitation from February 2015 to June 2018 and rejoined the department from August 2020 to date, using the English language without any difficulty and with good communication with all my South African colleagues.”
Among his previous projects are:
- Algeria, from January 2007 to November 2008, where he helped construct the “irrigation system of the Hennaya Plain” in the Wilaya of Tlencem;
- Venezuela, from 2011 to 2008, where he prepared the “master plan for water supply and sanitation of the Yaracuy state”; and
- SA, with the department of water and sanitation:
- 2015-2016: control of the operation and maintenance of hydraulic infrastructure;
- 2016 – 2017: operation and maintenance business mapping report, Eastern Operations Cluster;
- 2018-2019: operation and maintenance business mapping report, Central Operations Cluster.
On Thursday, water and sanitation minister Lindiwe Sisulu welcomed a team of 24 Cubans who will provide geo-hydrological specialist and engineering services to rural areas and other disadvantaged communities.
Sisulu said water is a ticking time bomb for SA.
“Cuba has had similar challenges we are facing as a country. They have overcome them and the engineers are here to assist us. They will teach and show us how to overcome these challenges,” she said.