The great road robbery equals billions of Nkandlas.
It’s long been known that South African motorists have been fleeced when it comes to road construction costs, but by exactly how much has always been a matter of speculation. Now we have a better idea.
The Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP), originally costed at R4.6 billion in the mid-2000s for a 340km upgrade, ended up costing just shy of R18bn for 193km. After a year-long study involving whistleblowers, road engineers and quantity surveyors, the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) concluded that the 193km freeway improvement project should have cost no more than R8bn, even allowing for cost escalations and other contingencies. That’s a R10bn overcharge, enough to build 40 Nkandlas.
The client in this case was none other than SA National Roads Agency (Sanral), which paid an average of R86.6m per kilometre – between two and three times what comparable roads in Africa (and South Africa) would cost.
If the R10bn cost overrun is correct – and several industry insiders claim it is – how did the construction companies pull it off? And why are no construction executives in jail for this swindle?