Cape Town’s infamous unfinished freeways, resulting from a failed construction project in the 1970’s, are to remain as is, for now. Following a tender process which concluded in February, controversy and legal concerns have scrapped the planned refurbishment.
Construction of the Foreshore Freeway Bridge concluded in 1977. The unfinished bridge which looms over the city has been described as an iconic eyesore. Urban legends relating to engineering miscalculations and an unrelenting shop owner, refusing to sell property in the path of construction, have all been born of its notoriety.
The official reason for the unfinished bridge is a lack of funding, which has persisted for 40 years. That was set to change in 2016 when the City of Cape Town’s City Manager issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) aimed at completing the unfinished bridge.
The RFP was offered to private contractors; engineering firms were urged to pitch plans for a Foreshore Freeway Precinct revival.
In February, Mitchell du Plessis Associates (MDA) were announced as the preferred candidates.
The controversy surrounding the R8 billion Foreshore project
MDA may have won the bid to rebuild the Foreshore Freeway Precinct, but the entire proposal process was marred by controversy, with accusations of nepotism and private sector prejudice.
The areas which were earmarked for development included:
- The CTICC parking garage;
- The area between the existing freeways and Heerengracht and DF Malan Street;
- The area between the existing freeways and DF Malan and Jan Smuts Streets; and
- The area between the existing freeways and Jan Smuts and Christiaan Barnard Streets
As reported by Times Live, the decision was made on Friday to scrap the entire project. All six initial bidders have been notified of the cancellation.
The City of Cape Town has said that after receiving detailed legal advice, they have decided to revoke MDA’s contract. City manager, Lungelo Mbandazayo, issued a statement on Wednesday:
“Having received legal advice‚ the city concluded that a lack of sufficient clarity in the request for proposals documentation rendered the evaluation criteria vague.
Procurement processes must be compliant with the rule of law. There must be no doubt about the integrity of these processes and‚ as such‚ I have decided to cancel the request for proposals.”
While blame has been put on the irregular procurement process which awarded MDA rights to reconstruct, Mbandazayo also points to a changing economy, saying:
“Furthermore‚ the economic outlook for the country has become significantly weaker since the issuing of the request for proposals two years ago. This change‚ together with the additional burdens that the city‚ its ratepayers‚ and residents are facing at the moment‚ cannot be ignored.”
MDA’s proposal included the completion of unfinished sections of freeway‚ 3‚200 market-related residential units and at least 450 affordable homes.
Mbandazayo said the future of the Foreshore Precinct project remains uncertain.
“The city is‚ therefore‚ reconsidering the future of this project‚ and we will communicate further once a decision has been made.”