Sanral will cancel R4.7-billion contract if company found guilty of fraud

The South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) was fully aware of the fraud charges against Aqua Transport and Plant Hire’s directors when it awarded the company a R4.7 billion contract to revamp a stretch of the N3 highway.

This is according to Sindisiwe Chikunga, South Africa’s transport minister, who said a provision had been built to terminate the contract should the company’s directors be found guilty.

“The Department has confirmed that Sanral is aware of the allegations Aqua Transport and Plant Hire is facing,” she said in response to parliamentary questions from EFF MP Lorato Florence Tito.

“According to information at Sanral’s disposal, Aqua is neither blacklisted nor restricted on the National Treasury’s Central Supplier Database and, as such, the company is not prohibited from doing business with government and/or its entities.”

“The Department shall also monitor the developments and any future Court Rulings, with regards, Aqua and ensure that Sanral complies with implementing the laws,” added Chikunga

Chikunga added that Aqua Transport and Plant Hire also isn’t blacklisted or restricted on Sanral’s service provider database.

Sindisiwe Chikunga, minister of transport

She confirmed that there was no legal barrier to Sanral awarding the contract to Aqua Transport and Plant Hire, and the R4.7 billion contract was awarded to it as the company was the highest-scoring bidder.

It will see Aqua Transport and Plant Hire revamp the N3 highway from the Westville Viaduct to the Paradise Valley Interchange — a stretch of approximately 6km.

Chikunga said Sanral sought external legal advice to determine if there were any legal implications in awarding the contract to Aqua Transport and Plant Hire.

“Legal advice indicated that under South African law, Aqua directors are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, and as such, Sanral was legally duty bound to award the tender to the Aqua/EXR joint venture as the highest scoring bidder.”

However, should the company’s directors be found guilty of the charges against them, Sanral reserves the right to terminate the contract.

Aqua Transport and Plant Hire’s directors allegedly defrauded the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport of over R1.5 billion — and it is one of the numerous allegations of irregularity it has regarding public sector contracts.

Substantial road upgrades

BusinessTech reports that the upgrades will take approximately 51 months to complete, and motorists should expect delays on that stretch of the N3 Highway.

Construction kicked off in early September, and Ravi Ronny, director of design and construction at Sanral, broke down all of the upgrades that will take place:

  • The number of lanes is increasing from four to six in each direction
  • Upgrades to the Westville and Paradise Valley interchanges
  • Overpass upgrades on the stretch of highway
  • Upgrade to roughly 1.5km of the M13, which crosses over the N3
  • Improvements to the local road network

The road sees excessive traffic numbers, particularly when it comes to heavy freight transport, which could lead to severe congestion during the road works.

Ronny highlighted several interventions that will be used during the upgrade process to help motorists:

  • Three lanes will remain open in each direction over the upgrade period
  • Each interchange will have one lane open
  • Several M-roads, including the M1, M5, M7, and M19 have been upgraded to handle diverted traffic

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Sanral will cancel R4.7-billion contract if company found guilty of fraud