A Gauteng rehabilitation project that entails a 27 km section of road – from the D483 / P6-1 intersection, close to Bapsfontein, in Ekurhuleni, to the D483/D713 intersection, in Cullinan, in Tshwane – began last month.
This comes after a construction contractor was appointed for the project last month, states engineering consultancy WSP highways, transport planning, intelligent transportation systems and rail director Marshall Muthen.
This appointment was finalised after a delayed design and procurement phase for the project. The construction phase of the project should take about 10 months, with the latest date for completion being December next year.
Thirty percent of the contract is allocated to be delivered by local small, medium-sized and microenterprise (SMME) contractors, which provides opportunities for emerging and local contractor involvement, he adds.
“The project is for part of Gauteng’s road network. The Gauteng Provincial Road Authority has an asset management and pavement management system, which identifies the maintenance needs of the road network at a strategic planning level.”
In 2013, it was identified that this section of road needed maintenance and upgrades. The Gauteng Provincial Road Authority then released a tender for the detailed design and construction supervision for the project, for which WSP was appointed to conduct the detailed design for the maintenance interventions in 2014, Muthen elaborates.
He adds that, once appointed, a works programme was initiated by WSP, during which the type of maintenance and upgrades required for the road section were investigated and developed in consultation with the road authorities.
Following a design process, WSP assisted the province to appoint a contractor to construct the works as designed. WSP is mandated to monitor the contractor to ensure that construction proceeds according to the correct design standards, and that the construction contract between Gauteng Provincial Road Authority and the contractor complies with all the legal and risk requirements.
“During the design development stages, we identified needs for specific repairs to the existing road structure, the surfacing and also a few drainage and safety improvements that were required.”
The original designs for the project were completed in 2016. There was a delay following this period, as the rehabilitation project had not been specified for the client’s expenditure budget, and the project was placed on hold.
In 2019, the client earmarked a budget to construct the project and was aiming to get the project ready for construction procurement.
Owing to the delay after completion of the original design, the seasonal cycles and traffic on the road section since 2016, WSP had to update the design, taking the current condition of the road into consideration.
Muthen also points out that reforms in the regulatory environment around public sector construction procurement also contributed to delays, as project delays of 12 to 18 months from bid closing to appointment have become a regular occurrence.
Furthermore, countrywide, construction site disruptions, owing to conflicts around labour and local SMME involvement in projects, as well as the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, have also contributed to delays in delivering road construction projects.
These delays have also resulted in a decline in the average condition of the countries road network, owing to deferred maintenance and upgrades, he states.
The construction tender procurement for the project was put out in December 2019.
A year later, the project was re-tendered, owing to compliance and procurement issues, with the construction contractor finally being appointed last month.
Muthen states that, despite these delays, WSP’s approach in infrastructure projects of this nature is usually to follow a “partnered approach”.
This is particularly so for this project, as the Gauteng Provincial Road Authority is a significant road authority, and Gauteng has a large and economically important road network with high traffic volumes, he notes.
“For us to partner with a vital road authority in an advisory role is important to support our vision of enhancing social value in all our projects. The client is bound to follow government procurement legislation, to ensure the responsible use of public funds.”