The city’s Foreshore freeway bridge project has been scrapped. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency/ANA
Cape Town - Cape Town city manager Lungelo Mbandazayo admitted that the municipality bit off more than it could chew when it proposed the now scrapped R8 billion Foreshore Project to complete unfinished highways and build affordable houses in the inner city.

His admission came after developers demanded answers from the City as to who will be held accountable for losses after the multibillion-rand project was cancelled while several proposals were already prepared.

Western Cape Development Forum chairperson Deon van Zyl has called into question the seriousness with which the City treats proposals and developments.

“The real question is, can the private sector take future Cape Town calls for proposals seriously? It is time for the industry and City to have serious discussions on what the structure of any future City RFP’s should be and how procurement processes can be improved to facilitate investment in Cape Town,” he said.

Mbandanzayo said the City had undertaken all steps pertinent to a project of this nature.

“As I have stated in the media, the lack of sufficient clarity in the evaluation criteria of the Request for Proposals (RFP) documentation necessitated that I, in my capacity as city manager, cancel the RFP. However, as a project of this nature was the first of its kind to be embarked upon by the City, this was not known to the City at the outset.”

Mayor Patricia de Lille said the cancellation of the request for proposals does not mean the project is dead.

“It is disappointing that our first attempt did not work out. However, the cancellation of the RFP does not mean that the project is cancelled.

The need to address the future of the unfinished freeways remains. So too does the need to ensure access to affordable housing in our city centre.”

Van Zyl said: “With an eye on the value of the proposed projects, one would expect a high level of scrutiny. One would also expect a level of second guessing and questioning of each other’s bids between bidders. The stakes were, understandably, high.

“But what none of the bidders could foresee was that the wheels would come off on the side of the City - the body that initiated the call for RFPs in the first place,” Van Zyl said.

Asked who would be held accountable, Mbandazayo said: “It would be premature to indicate whether anyone would be held liable as a project of this nature, as indicated above, was a first for the City to embark upon.

“As is the case with all individuals/companies that tender for the provision of goods and services in the public sector - be it on local, provincial, or national level - the cost involved for devising and submitting such a tender/proposal is for the said individual/companies.”

Mbandazayo also said calls for proposals could be taken seriously due to the transparent manner in which the City manages its processes.

Janine Myburgh, president of the Cape Chamber of Commerce, said preparing a bid of this nature was an extremely expensive undertaking.

“The six bidders employed dozens of planners, architects and other top professionals to prepare their submissions and it has all come to nothing,” she said.

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Cape Argus