Original Research

Municipal engineers and local government in the Transvaal before 1910

Harri Mäki
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 7, No 1 | a258 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v7i1.258 | © 2011 Harri Mäki | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 March 2016 | Published: 31 July 2011

About the author(s)

Harri Mäki, School of Basic Sciences at the Vaal Traingle North-West University, South Africa

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This paper examines the history of the first town engineers in the Transvaal before the Union. It will briefly examine the changes in local government in the Transvaal, focusing on municipal engineers. Examination is made of the selection processes applied in their appointments and the circumstances at the end of their tenures. It explores what was expected of municipal engineers during this period; shows what their position within the municipal structure was; and explains how vague their job description was in relation to their wide field of operation. The development of the engineer’s position in the municipal management hierarchy is interesting. He was an important figure in local government, had specific responsibilities and enjoyed specific powers. It emerges that most early town engineers had training via apprenticeship for the positions they held and that there was added pressure from elected councillors in municipalities who were prone to assiduously monitor how officials were spending public money.

Keywords:Municipal history, civil engineering, water supply, sanitation, Transvaal,Benoni, Boksburg, Germiston, Heidelberg, Johannesburg, Klerksdorp, Krugersdorp, Pietersburg, Potchefstroom, Pretoria, Standerton, Volksrust Disciplines:History, Engineering, Public Management


Municipal history; civil engineering; water supply; sanitation; Transvaal; Benoni; Boksburg; Germiston; Heidelberg; Johannesburg; Klerksdorp; Krugersdorp; Pietersburg; Potchefstroom; Pretoria; Standerton; Volksrust


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