Sanral claims up to R760 million in damages from construction firms
The South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) has lodged civil damages claims against construction firms over the costing of the 2010 Soccer World Cup highway upgrades as well as roads in other provinces. Sanral confirmed on Monday that it had lodged the claims with the Gauteng Local Division High Court against the companies that were found guilty of collusive conduct by the Competition Authorities.The total claims are between R600 and R760 million. Seven construction firms and the joint ventures they formed have been served papers.The agency argues that it suffered damages and overcharges as a result of the companies’ collusive conduct.PICS: Striking Sanral contract workers block N1 over pay hikesTraffic has been brought to a standstill on the N1 north from Samrand road in Midrand as road agency Sanral contract workers embarked on a strike action on Tuesday morning for a 130 percent salary increase. “This follows months of hard work in quantifying the damages we suffered. Some of our detractors doubted our intention to file for damages‚ accusing us of delays‚ with some going to the extent of suggesting the agency was colluding with the industry. "But we had to be thorough in our assessment of the damages and were not going to be rushed into this action ill-prepared‚” the agency’s spokesperson‚ Vusi Mona‚ said in a statement. Mona clarified that the claims are not confined to the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project but include work that was carried out in other parts of the country.Three years ago‚ the Competition Commission fined 15 construction companies including Murray & Roberts‚ WBHO‚ Group Five and Aveng a combined R1.46-billion for collusion over contracts‚ involving more than 300 projects worth R61-billion‚ including for the World Cup.In February this year‚ Business Day quoted the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa)‚ formerly known as the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance‚ as saying that had Sanral not overpaid for the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project by nearly R11 billion‚ the e-tolling system "would never have happened".Sanral's financial woes self-inflicted: OutaE-toll owner Sanral was on Monday accused of blaming its financial woes and credit rating pressures on opponents of the controversial Gauteng road payment system. The lobby group released a report comparing the cost of the freeway project to 11 regional and international case studies. It found that‚ on average‚ Sanral overpaid by 321% per kilometre.Including toll infrastructure‚ the Gauteng freeway project cost R24 billion — up from a R6.3 billion estimate at conception — to expand and upgrade less than 190km of roads.