Cost of interchange skyrockets with more delays

2014-06-02 00:00

PERSISTENT delays due to various factors have escalated the construction cost of the Umgeni/N2 Interchange bridge.

Nomsa Modise, South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) incident management systems and social economic development project manager, said the delays had financial implications for the agency. However, she said it was too early to tell how much this will cost the agency. Of most concern is that whenever there are delays and subsequent extension periods for completion, the agency is left with a bill for engineering consultants.

“The project has been delayed for over a year-and-a-half already and these delays have lead to an estimated completion date of December 2014. This will definitely cost us because beside the cost for the contractor, when the project was initiated, we also hired engineering consultants for the duration of the work. These consultants give us progress updates on the project,” said Modise.

“Another extension will mean our consultants have to be retained for the extended contract duration. It is too early to tell how much these delays will cost Sanral. What we want now is for the contractor to unpack their plan on how they will finish the job and how they will proceed with the current labour issue.”

Modise said that two weeks ago, the contractor, Rumdel Cape, had dismissed 350 of its employees after they engaged into an unprotected strike. The issue revolved around unpaid production bonuses. The contractor had since started recruiting new labour, according to Modise.

In February, Logashri Sewnarain, Sanral’s regional spokesperson, said the projected costs for the project stood at R512 million. This was R152 million more than the R360 million set aside for the project, which started in 2011. Sewnarain said the R512 million figure included the revised schedule of work, additional work, contract escalation, contingencies and VAT.

At the time, Sewnarain had said the initial scheduled time for completion was September 2013 but community unrest, numerous strikes by workers and inclement weather caused the delays. In July last year, work at the site was delayed after a labour dispute. The deadline was then extended to October this year.

The interchange is north of the E.B. Cloete (Spaghetti Junction) interchange, a few kilometres from the Durban CBD. It leads traffic west towards Reservoir Hills and Pinetown, and joins the N2 Umgeni River bridge. The interchange also leads traffic to the N2 South and N2 North towards the King Shaka International Airport.

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