Clive Ndou
Politics editor
2 minute read
25 May 2022
06:01

Business forum welcomes Sanral’s tender turnaround

Clive Ndou

Members of Pietermaritzburg’s controversial business forum, who have been disrupting construction work along the N3, near Ashburton, have welcomed the cancellation of road construction tenders.

Members of Pietermaritzburg’s controversial business forum, who have been disrupting construction work along the N3, near Ashburton, have welcomed the cancellation of road construction tenders.

While the cancellation of tenders to the value of R18 billion by the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) will not affect the current construction work on the N3 around Ashburton, there were concerns as to whether it will delay the start of other road construction projects at the Ashburton Interchange.

Thami Mseleku, who is a member of the business forum, said the cancellation of the tenders vindicated the group, which has been accused of using violence as part of its efforts to ensure that its members gain access to government tenders.

He said: 

“All along we have been trying to draw the attention of the authorities to the fact that the laws of the country were not being followed in the awarding of most of the government’s tenders.”

“However, because we are not part of the mainstream construction industry, we were portrayed as gangsters,” he said.

Sanral management had already identified a preferred bidder for the second phase of the Ashburton N3 construction project, but the process was stopped after the road agency’s board called for a fresh start in the bidding process.

This was after the board found that proper processes were not followed in awarding several of Sanral’s project contracts, including in the second phase of the Ashburton N3 project.

In some instances, the board found, Sanral tender committees did not insist on government’s policies requiring that 30% of the work given to the main contractor should be subcontracted to emerging businesses.

Mseleku said members of the forum and other emerging contractors were prejudiced by the failure of Sanral’s management to ensure that smaller contractors were also considered for the road construction work.

He said: 

“We are glad that the Sanral board and the minister of transport have finally come to our rescue.”

Meanwhile, Sanral board chairperson, Themba Mhambi, who said the road agency would soon reopen the tendering process, assured the construction industry that the cancellation of the tenders would not delay the start of the new projects.

“The good thing is that we will not be starting afresh — all the work, including the design, has already been done,” he said.

The Sanral board, Mhambi said, expected the appointment of new contractors within the next four months.