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I read with dismay Derek Botha’s letter regarding alleged corruption at Sanral (“Engineers are not welcome at Sanral if they are not corrupt”, June 30). I am surprised, since as a former executive director of the SA Road Federation and earlier head of national roads in SA, I find his allegations hard to believe. Is he a professional engineer, and does he have evidence to substantiate his claims?  

Unfortunately the most efficient state-owned enterprise in our country, one that has delivered world class road infrastructure, appears to have become victim to political machinations in our divided society. I hope this does not drag the body down to the same poor level of performance of almost all other road authorities in the country.

Admittedly, the current Sanral board has made some decisions that I regard as irrational, but this does not reflect upon the performance of the professional engineers employed by the agency who have had to “toe the line”. However, there are at least two issues concerning Sanral that require debate:

  • The “makeup” of the Sanral board, with no significant professional engineering knowledge or competence compared with its immediate predecessor in the SA Roads Board, which had five professional engineers in its eight person complement.
  • The decision of the board to introduce substantial portions of very complex road projects to BEE contractors and consultants. In another context, was this the reason for the catastrophic result at Medupi and Kusile power stations?

Building up viable and, more importantly, knowledgeable developing players in the roads industry needs to start with less complex projects than intricate road interchanges or major  bridges with enormous span lengths. This was the procedure adopted successfully in the 1960s. So why not now?

Malcolm Mitchell 

JOIN THE DISCUSSION: Send us an email with your comments to letters@businesslive.co.za. Letters of more than 300 words will be edited for length. Anonymous correspondence will not be published. Writers should include a daytime telephone number.​


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