GEORGE NEWS - It is back to the drawing board to find a suitable company for a highly specialised job - the raising of the Garden Route Dam's spillway.
The only 100% black empowerment company who passed the evaluation process for this Level 1 BBBEE-tender has withdrawn from the project, as they are in liquidation. Westland Civils, a construction and civil engineering company with offices in Malmesbury and Vredenburg, landed the tender in October last year. The George Herald received no comment from the company owner, Hennie Lategan, before going to press.
George Municipal Manager Trevor Botha confirmed the news of the withdrawal last week. He said the George Municipality received a letter from the contractor on Tuesday 20 March, informing the municipality of their "regretful withdrawal of their tender".
"As there was only one responsive tender, the municipality is now compelled to call for new tenders and the process to appoint a new contractor will take at least three months, with envisaged construction start date of July 2018," says Botha. "George Municipality shares the public's disappointment, but remains confident that the project will proceed once the process to procure a new contractor is concluded."
The raising of the Garden Route Dam spillway is a key project that has suffered numerous and lengthy delays over a period of nearly 10 years. On 13 March, just a week before the contractor withdrew his tender, the George Municipality issued a press release informing the public that the raising of the dam wall was finally going ahead. The George Herald carried the article on 15 March. Now Georgians will have to wait even longer.
New tender specs
The good news is that the Article 80 bid adjudication committee meets on 12 April and will hopefully discuss new tender regulations for this project. The tight Level 1 BBBEE-tender regulations require a 100% black empowerment company, and these seem to be a rare find. According to information the only local company who complied with the strict BBBEE specifications was also liquidated, and therefore did not originally qualify for the tender. There is talk, however, that the new regulations might be relaxed to a Level 2 BBBEE-requirement, which involves 50% black shareholding, meaning local companies could qualify next time round.
A local contractor who asked to stay anonymous, said he heard the news via the grapevine, and is very hopeful. "It gives us another chance. It's just a pity that everything took so long, because it would have been much easier when the dam didn't overflow," he said. The contractor mentioned that the bigger budget might result in a further change in tender specifications from a Level 6 CE (about R16-million) project, to a Level 7 CE project (up to R35-million).
Stretching the budget
The Department of Water and Sanitation donated R15-million for the project back in 2009. George Municipality only succeeded in obtaining a water permit in 2014, whereafter certain legislation processes had to be met before the project went on tender in September 2017. The tender was awarded in October.
In the council meeting of 28 February, additional funding of just over R12-million was approved by Council. Councillor Gert van Niekerk of the FF Plus said this would not have been necessary if the project was rolled out earlier. "I have no idea why they dragged their feet so long," he said. "Every year, since 2009, the money was rolled over. What happened since 2014 when they obtained the water permit, up until now?"
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