The building of new freeways in Gauteng, including one parallel to the N1 and others opening up the East of Pretoria and the East and West Rand, are delayed due to continuing attacks on Sanral’s integrity, Sanral project leader for the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) told journalists on Tuesday.
Sanral, at a media briefing, accused the Organisation Uniting against Tax Abuse (Outa) of misleading the public in its research report published in February. The report alleges Sanral overpaid for the Gauteng freeways by 321%. It said Outa bases its attacks on an unscientific study by people whose qualifications and experience is unknown and implies that Sanral is corrupt, incompetent and colluded with construction companies.
Sanral CEO Nazir Alli, said Outa was promoting lawlessness by encouraging motorists not to pay for e-tolls and hinted that the continued attacks on Sanral’s integrity were based on a racist mindset.
Outa chairman Wayne Duvenage in response told Moneyweb that the organisation stood by its report. Read Outa’s statement, issued last night in response to Sanral’s briefing, here.
Sanral GFIP project leader Alex van Niekerk, said the e-toll debate was detracting from the need to build more freeways in Gauteng. This could result in the very same people who are resisting the GFIP scheme, being stuck in traffic in a few years’ time and will impact on economic growth, he said. He said the second phase of GFIP that had been put on hold entailed 150km of new freeways for Gauteng.
Van Niekerk said Sanral asked Outa several questions about the way it arrived at the conclusion of its report, and for copies of some documents the report was based on, but Outa failed to respond.
He said Outa’s report was based on 11 other reports that he asserted were selected following an Internet search. Each of these reports dealt with several road construction projects.
According to Van Niekerk, Outa calculated the average cost of the road projects quoted in each of the reports and then calculated the mean average, to get to the average unit cost against which it compared the actual cost of GFIP. This, Outa found, indicates that Sanral overpaid on GFIP by 321%.
Van Niekerk pointed out several “fatal flaws” in Outa’s calculations.
He said that while Outa stated the importance of comparing like-for-like, it failed to do so consistently. In one case it compared the Trans-Kalahari project, a road with one lane in each direction and shoulders in a rural area, with the complex multi-lane Gauteng freeways in densely populated areas. This comparison, he said, is not valid.
Outa grossly under-estimated the cost of structural work for the many bridges on the GFIP and does not consistently apply the unit of lane kilometre.
He said there were some inconsistencies in unit measurements and the studies were used selectively and out of context.
The Outa report further excludes the cost for retaining walls, relocation of services, construction circumstances and environment, accommodation of traffic and professional cost for project design and site supervision on the GFIP.
In dealing with one study, Outa used millions of euro, instead of billions of euro, Van Niekerk said.
He said Outa’s own calculations indicated an over-expenditure of 152%, but still it quotes the more sensationalist 321% in the media.
Outa further based its calculations on the GFIP consisting of 185km, while it is in fact 210km, Van Niekerk said.
Alli said the GFIP constructions cost was determined through an open tender process. Independent experts are currently calculating the extent to which Sanral overpaid as a result of collusion between construction companies that was later revealed. Sanral would endeavour to recover it, he said.
Duvenage responded, saying Outa would respond to Sanral’s request for more information about the basis of its report, if Sanral communicated directly with the organisation instead of through its lawyers.
He said Outa would then request further information from Sanral about the project, including the bills of quantities for the construction works.