The South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) said that bids for the R17 billion worth of construction tenders cancelled by its board had to be re-advertised and adjudicated anew within the next four months.Confirmation of the decision to cancel the awarded tenders came as some losing bidders have been criticising the Sanral board for “killing the industry”. For its decision to cancel the tenders, Sanral explained that a key principle, ensuring that design consultants were not involved in the evaluation of bid submissions, had not been upheld. The bidding process for at least three projects that include the N2 Wild Coast Mtentu Bridge, R56 Matatiele rehabilitation and Ashburton Interchange had violated public finance management policies, hence the termination of the contracts, Sanral said yesterday. It highlighted that the cancellation of the award of the R17 billion worth of construction tenders was “aimed at ensuring that taxpayers’ money is protected” in line with the laws of the country. Themba Mhambi, the chairperson of the Sanral board during a media briefing, said, “In light of that violation of a crucial internal control, and in line with its fiduciary responsibility, the board had no option but to refuse to sanction the planned awards.” Awarding of the GFIP Open Road Tolling tender has also been cancelled, with Sanral charging that there had been “a reduction of the sub-contracting requirement from 30 percent to 15 percent without approval by the board” and “before permission was requested” from the National Treasury.
ConclusionIn conclusion, the Board reiterated that it is as concerned as everyone in the industry that the cancellation of these tenders will delay the implementation of critical infrastructure projects and possibly impact the construction industry. However, it cannot be said that governance and procurement processes must be compromised at all and at any cost. “The SOE sector is still reeling from the consequences of cutting corners. Short memories in this regard are unfortunate. To mitigate the lost time and opportunities, the Board has instructed Management to create the necessary conditions for the tenders to be readvertised legally and allocated within the next four months.” The SANRAL Board asserts that it is determined to get to the bottom of the lapses and irregularities highlighted and follow up with the relevant consequence management. “SANRAL remains committed to contributing to the development of the nation and its communities. This Board is acutely aware of the role SANRAL plays as a catalyst to drive the economy and the construction industry with projects and work on the national road network. “The Board is confident that SANRAL has a professional and competent workforce that can deliver good quality roads which are critically important to provide access and mobility along strategic corridors crisscrossing the country. The Board is also passionate about real and effective transformation across all the sectors in the road construction value chain.”