The SA National Roads Agency (SANRAL) confirmed today that the contractor – ASJV – of one of its mega bridges as part of the N2 Wild Coast (N2WC) road project has abandoned the construction site, citing unsafe working conditions as the reason.

SANRAL strongly rejects this assertion, as the South African government both at national and provincial levels has done all that was necessary to ensure that it was safe for the contractor to return to site.

Consequently, SANRAL is now following due process as per FIDIC contract requirements (the agency’s standard international contract used for consulting engineering and construction purposes) and has as of today issued a notice of termination to the contractor for abandoning the site.

“Work on the project was suspended on 22 October 2018 due to community protests. The N2 Wild Coast Road Political Oversight Committee, (POC) chaired by Eastern Cape Transport, Safety and Liaison MEC Weziwe Tikana, led negotiations with all affected stakeholders to find a solution to the problem and ensure resumption of the project. After protracted negotiations with the community, the petitioners and other local stakeholders, a resolution was reached on 09 January 2019 on all of the key issues.

“A process to resolve all of the remaining issues was agreed. A process was also agreed to address any future issues without stopping work and it was resolved that progress on the bridge construction could resume unhindered from Monday, 14 January 2019,” said SANRAL’s spokesperson Vusi Mona.

SANRAL has been engaging with the contractor to return to site to resume work since the beginning of 2019. The contractor is not being transparent about its true reasons for abandoning site, but SANRAL suspects that the publicly known financial challenges of Aveng may have contributed to the decision.

SANRAL will do everything in its power to protect its interest in relation to the termination and will engage National Treasury to determine the quickest way to restore works on site to achieve the socio-economic objectives of this important project. SANRAL will also pursue investigations relating to the conduct of the contractor based on the allegations made by the community in their petition that has since been reviewed with the community and further actions agreed. SANRAL regrets the delays and costs that will result from this abandonment of the project by the contractor, ASJV.