The R17 billion of cancelled road construction tenders are now scheduled to be awarded in September after a new bidding process and after South African National Roads Agency Ltd (Sanral) cleaned up the corporate governance processes in the five tenders, said Sanral acting CEO Themba Mhambi.
Sanral also announced yesterday that the Development Bank of Southern Africa had been appointed as an independent public entity to handle Sanral’s large scale procurement and oversight of the tenders.
Sanral’s board on May 23 declined to award the five tenders due to lapses in the due process - turning a blind eye would have exposed the roads development agency to irregular expenditure and possible litigation that might have held up the projects in courts for years, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said at a briefing yesterday.
Mhambi said the cancellation had “infuriated” the previous bidders who had then embarked on a media and political campaign to label Sanral’s board as “nincompoops”, but these detractors in the end could not prove Sanral wrong in the decision to cancel the tenders, and both the detractors and Sanral agreed that the projects had been delayed by the cancellation.
He said Sanral’s board, once it had dealt with the issues of governance relating to the tenders, then resolved to get the tenders awarded as soon as possible, within four months.
He said the four months’ time frame was realistic, given much of the preparatory work on the tenders had already been done.
Advertisements for the tenders were expected to be released in this month.
“We have traversed a hard road in the aftermath of the state capture and irregular award of tenders in some of our entities, and acts of downright malfeasance in others, which include Prasa and Acsa. The efforts to restore the integrity of our institutions and rebuild the hollowed-out capacity has been painstaking at best. The hard lesson we have learnt from this ordeal is to remain vigilant and stop creeping lawlessness, greed and corruption dead on its tracks,” said Mbalula.
“The board, through its oversight mechanism, identified the flouting of due process and moved with speed to act, in order to preserve the integrity of the tenders,” he said.
He said all government institutions should have early warnings systems in place to detect and regularise actions that might otherwise result in irregular expenditure of costly litigation.