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The official launch of the South African National Institute of Rock Engineering took place at a function held on 6 July 1999 at the Wanderer‟s Club in Johannesburg. At the launch, the out-going Chairman of SANGORM, Dr. Güner Gürtunca, reported on his period of chairmanship from February 1994 to July 1999. His report was followed by an address from SANIRE‟s first president, Dr. Nielen van der Merwe.

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Photo: Nielen van der Merwe

At the time, Dr. van der Merwe expressed his feelings with some relief: “After so many years of talking about things like the image and professional standing of rock engineers in South Africa, SANIRE is now a reality.” But he also cautioned that the Institute does not turn us into instant professionals. Professional behaviour reflects an individual‟s approach to his work, an attitude that is reflected in the quality of work and the integrity that the individual displays.

He also remarked that, with the new Institute, we have a baby in our arms and what we do now will have a major influence on how this person will behave in maturity.

shist3At its formation, SANIRE Council allowed all previous SANGORM memberships to be transformed to SANIRE until 31 December 1999, without paying additional fees. At the time, there was a large number of associate members and rather few corporate members. Raising this issue was a Concerned from Johannesburg, who wrote to the Editor of the SANIRE News questioning how many corporate members actually voted in favour of the transition. The President replied to ensure maximum participation the proposed change was publicized by means of a road show. In the end, less than half the corporate members voted by post and e-mail, but this was still better than had voting been conducted at the AGM.

Looking at the SANGORM / SANIRE from today's position, the decision to professionalize the association was the right thing to do. SANIRE has a dedicated Council, seven branches and a growing member base, having increased from around 300 in mid 1999 to 574 currently. It is in a financially sound position to provide services to its members and is directly or indirectly represented in a number of stakeholder organisations such as the CoM‟s RETC, SAIMM, SANCOT, SAICE, ECSA and the MQA committee.

Compiled by F Essrich