12 September 2019

The South African National Roads Agency Limited
(Sanral) has applied to National Treasury for permission to negotiate with
the previously prequalified, but unsuccessful bidders, to complete the
Mtentu bridge contract.

Failing this, the project will be re-tendered, says
Sanral southern region manager Mbulelo

The Aveng Strabag joint venture (ASJV) in February
decided to terminate the Mtentu bridge contract, in the Eastern Cape.

The 1.1 km, R1.65-billion bridge forms part of
Sanral’s N2 Wild Coast road project. Should it be completed, it will be one of
the longest main-span balanced cantilever bridges in the world, and will reach
heights of around 220 m.

ASJV believes it was unable and unsafe to work on
the project site, owing to continuing community unrest and protest action.

The joint venture (JV) is currently in dispute with
SANRAL, with the consortium appealing against a North Gauteng High Court ruling
delivered in March that Sanral could institute damages claims for the contract.

Construction of the Mtentu bridge started in
January 2018 and was scheduled to take about 40 months.

Owing to the termination of the construction
contract, however, a new construction schedule will need to be established,
says Peterson.

He adds that Sanral has not yet received permission
from National Treasury to negotiate with previously unsuccessful bidders for
the Mtentu bridge, but that talks will start as soon as it is granted.

There were six firms which prequalified for the
Mtentu bridge project, and which submitted bids for the contract.

“However, it is unlikely all of them would be
willing, or are in a position to negotiate,” notes Peterson.

The five unsuccessful firms, in no particular
order, are Murray & Roberts (now Concor) Mota-Engil JV; Steffanuti, CMC,
Rizzani De Eccher & Axyx JV; WBHO, EGC (Eiffage Genie Civil); Daewoo Basil
Read JV and the Vinci Group 5 JV.

Peterson says should Sanral be given permission to
negotiate with these five parties, it will take about six months to get a
contractor on site – “12 months if we have to re-tender”.

“The timeframe for completion would have to be
negotiated, but it is likely that any new contract would again be about 40

The delay on the project is currently at around 11

Can the project be completed at the same
R1.65-billion price tag? “This is unfortunately doubtful, but all additional
costs will be recovered from the ASJV,” notes Peterson.

“Sanral is currently holding several
hundred-million rands in sureties, as well as plant and equipment held on site
as additional security, to ensure the taxpayer does not end up paying more.”

Peterson says: “There will, however, always be
ongoing issues with communities during design, investigations, land acquisition
and construction.

“Sanral has set up numerous avenues to raise and resolve these issues. These include project liaison committees, stakeholder forums, a local Sanral Flagstaff office and community feedback and engagement meetings by service providers.”

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