Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance chairman Wayne Duvenage. Picture: MARTIN RHODES
Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance chairman Wayne Duvenage. Picture: MARTIN RHODES

Sanral allegedly overpaid by at least 116% for the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP), a report benchmarking the cost of the project showed upon release on Monday.

The project, which cost R17.9bn and saw the introduction of electronic tolling for Gauteng motorists, will now prompt a new campaign to ensure the costs of road construction are better policed, lobby group the Organisation for Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) said on Monday.

The group rejected a recent settlement between the government and construction firms, saying it wanted to see a commission of inquiry into collusion in the sector established.

The government and seven construction firms reached an agreement in October 2016 that included a R1.4bn fine based on the findings of a Competition Commission inquiry, further commitment to transformation in the industry and a R1.5bn commitment to support social development. 

Using three separate methodologies for benchmarking the cost of the project, Outa estimated that the fair value of the improvement of 190km of Gauteng’s freeways ranged between R8bn and R8.7bn.

Outa chairman Wayne Duvenage said there was prima facie evidence of "anomalies" on the project that begged for explanation. "The public are being expected to fund corruption, to fund maladministration."

Civil claims against the construction sector needed to be reopened, and further oversight bodies for the sector strengthened, he said. The lobby group’s report followed a similar report released in February 2016 that concluded that Sanral had overpaid by 321%.

Sanral criticised the report as being inaccurate.

On Monday, Sanral dismissed Outa’s new report as well, as a "rehash" of the first. "Outa – again – compares projects that are incomparable and compounds this basic error by generalising complex engineering projects which international experts, including those in their own examples, warn against," spokesman Vusi Mona said.

Duvenage said Outa was pursuing its concerns, including a more thorough investigation into alleged collusion related to the 2010 soccer World Cup — which includes the GFIP.

Outa believed some oversight agencies had been subject to political pressure, he added.

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