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Blasting scheduled at Belstone Interchange

TRAFFIC ADVISORY: Immediate
Blasting scheduled at Belstone Interchange

Eastern Cape, 5 July 2022: The South African National Roads Agency SOC Ltd (SANRAL) wishes to advise travellers that controlled blasting is scheduled to take place at the new Belstone Interchange in King Williams Town at 3pm today, Tuesday, 5 July 2022.

The blasting operation will be next to the road to Bhisho, and the road will be closed for approximately 30 minutes. The MR0688 and Joubert Street will be closed.
“Motorists are asked to plan their trips accordingly and to use caution when making use of the roads,” said Mbulelo Peterson, SANRAL Southern Regional Manager.

SANRAL apologises for any inconvenience caused.

First labourers on site for Thembalethu Bridge upgrade

MEDIA RELEASE

 First labourers on site for Thembalethu Bridge upgrade

 Western Cape,1 July 2022 – With 23 local labourers recently having completed basic training, half the group are already actively working on the construction of the Thembalethu Bridge in George.

The first group is currently busy with trenching for the relocation of services, while the second group will soon start with traffic accommodation.

Following a series of engagements with communities in Thembalethu, Zone 9, and Conville, the project is off to a good start. “We made a public commitment that no SANRAL project will take off without significant stakeholder engagement. Having done the legwork, we are optimistic about the opportunities that this project can deliver to the people of George,” said Petronella Theron, SANRAL Project Manager.

Given the magnitude of unemployment in the area, sessions were arranged for CVs to be submitted at three venues across George on separate days. The contractor then, in the presence of community members, randomly drew CVs from the boxes, for the first batch of labourers to be trained, before they commenced work on the project. A comprehensive database of more than 1800 names was compiled, using all the CVs that were submitted and going forward, the contractor will draw names for local labor from that database, as and when additional labour is needed on the project.

Meetings were also held with the business community, where SMMEs were informed of the subcontracting packages that would be advertised, and what they would need to be eligible to tender.

Bongani Tonisi of Creamillion (Pty) Ltd, a local construction company in George, was highly appreciative of the information session and the detailed project specs that were shared. “This is a big project that will bring huge opportunities for small businesses. We are looking at experience that we will gain, economic growth of the region, and job creation, especially for the youth of this community,” said Tonisi.

Special attention was also given to ensuring the Project Liaison Committee (PLC) was effectively constituted with individuals that would ultimately take the project information they receive and share that with all their constituents across the various communities in George.

The South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO) is one of the latest additions to the PLC and their members were hugely supportive of the project and the opportunities it represents for the people of George. “As an organisation represented on the PLC, we will take the information back to the communities. The role of the PLC is also to oversee the subcontracting and job creation opportunities to ensure they are done transparently and in a fair manner,” said Mzimkhulu Maboza of SANCO.

Infrastructure development represents a healthy boost to our economy, and we are very pleased with the job opportunities for the unemployed as well as the upskilling of small contractors, through the training and capacity building that comes with participating on a SANRAL project,” said Alderman Leon Van Wyk, Executive Mayor of George.

This project is a collaborative venture between SANRAL and the George Local Municipality, with the National Department of Transport having provided R82,127 million towards the funding of the project. SANRAL is the implementing agent working closely with the George Municipality.

The scope of works involves the widening of the Thembalethu Bridge across the N2 from a single carriageway to accommodate two lanes in each direction, with additional turning lanes as well as extra space for pedestrians and cyclists.

“A new bridge will be constructed on the Western side. Once completed, the existing bridge will be raised and stitched to the new bridge, to ensure that the upgraded structure complies with the minimum bridge clearance of 5.2 meters,” explained SANRAL’s Theron.

Construction started in May and is expected to be completed towards the end of 2024.

SANRAL appoints DBSA to deliver on cancelled tenders

MEDIA RELEASE
SANRAL appoints DBSA to deliver on cancelled tenders

Pretoria, 30 June 2022 – The Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, and the Board of the South African National Roads Agency SOC Limited (SANRAL) today announced that an agreement has been reached with the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) to act as the infrastructure procurement and delivery management support agency on five strategic projects whose awards the Board declined to approve last month.

Minister Mbalula said that, on 23 May 2022, SANRAL “took the nation into confidence on the precautionary measures it took, when it declined to award a number of tenders as a result of lapses in the due process. The Board of SANRAL is bound by its fiduciary duties which, amongst others, enjoin it to act with fidelity, honesty, integrity and in the best interest of the company at all times.

“Turning a blind eye to what would have resulted in irregular expenditure and possible litigation, that would have held up some of these projects in courts for years, would have amounted to dereliction of duty on the part of the Board.
“In appreciating the strategic nature of the affected projects and their importance in giving momentum to economic reconstruction and recovery, I have impressed on the Board the need to move with speed in addressing the anomalies and award these tenders in a manner that is transparent and fair.

“I am pleased that the Board has moved with the necessary speed to address the due process lapses, with a clear plan on how to finalise the award of these tenders within the shortest possible time.

“We have traversed a hard road in the aftermath of state capture and irregular award of tenders in some of our entities, and acts of downright malfeasance in others, which include PRASA and ACSA. The efforts to restore the integrity of our institutions and rebuild the hollowed out capacity has been painstaking at best.

“The hard lesson we have learnt from this ordeal is to remain vigilant and stop creeping lawlessness, greed and corruption dead on its tracks.

“Our electoral mandate is premised on a commitment that we will forge ahead on our march to a better South Africa through service delivery that is responsive to the needs and aspirations of our people. We are under no illusion that the road ahead requires us to be resolute and give practical expression to accelerated service delivery. Our efforts to eliminate fruitless and wasteful expenditure and reduce irregular expenditure require of us and all our entities to put in place early warning system to detect and regularize actions that may otherwise result in irregular expenditure or costly litigation.

“The Board, through its oversight mechanism, identified the flouting of due process and moved with speed to act, in order to preserve the integrity of the tenders. Good governance is a cornerstone of efficient service delivery and for that reason, we will always keep governance on our radar and expect quarterly reports to include governance by of our entities.

“In appreciating the importance of the projects affected by the non-award of the tenders, SANRAL has taken steps to ensure that we move with speed in addressing the lapses and reach the point of award speedily.

“In conclusion, the King IV Code on Corporate Governance is applicable to SANRAL like all other state-owned public entities listed in Schedules 2 and 3 of the PFMA. In internalizing the principles outlined in the SOE Sector Supplement of the Code, the Board as an accounting authority, must serve as a focal point and custodian of corporate governance at SANRAL.”
The SANRAL Board Chairperson, Mr Themba Mhambi, said: “It must be noted that the DBSA was not in any way involved in the design, cost estimation and tender documentation stages of the cancelled tenders. This should reassure all interested parties and the public about the integrity and independence of the new procurement processes for the projects. DBSA’s profile and record in regard to matters of this nature speaks for itself”.

The Board’s announcement follows a media briefing on 23 May 2022 where the Board provided “information and facts pertaining to our recent resolution not to approve the then intended awarding of five tenders collectively worth around R17billion”.
At that media briefing the SANRAL Board had “outlined the reasons for our decision, the objective being to demonstrate the rationality thereof and take the nation into our confidence. In summary, reasons behind the cancellation of those tenders were: our obligation to ensure proper corporate governance, the requirement to comply with internal controls, the responsibility to conduct procurement in line with legislative, regulatory and policy prescripts; and the need to enforce subcontracting aimed at SMME development, black economic empowerment, and transformation as envisaged by government policy.

“Of course, some of the entities which had submitted tenders were infuriated by our decision, and some of them went on a national media and political offensive to portray us as nincompoops to be pilloried. None, however, has thus far proven us wrong in terms of our reasons. The reason for that is that our reasons were, and continue to be, right and in the best interests of SANRAL, good governance, the construction industry itself, and the people of South Africa.

“One area in which we and our detractors agreed was that the non-awarding of those tenders was a setback in terms of time. It meant a delay in the implementation of the projects intended by the tenders in the first place. Mindful of that, and concerned about the country’s economic recovery, the construction industry’s need for business, SMME development, and job creation, as SANRAL we resolved to accelerate the required readvertisement and awarding of the tenders. We therefore set ourselves a four-month deadline during which, we told the country, the tenders would be readvertised, evaluated, adjudicated, and awarded.”

SANRAL’s Acting CEO, Lehlohonolo Memeza, said the scope of the services to be rendered by the DBSA includes the evaluation of compliance, technical and financial aspects of relevant tenders, as well as providing independent construction management oversight throughout the construction period of the projects emanating from the tenders.

“The procurement phase of the identified projects is characterised by, inter alia, the following key stages or activities the establishment of the required team, a review of tender documents prior to the invitation of bids, submission of the tender documents for relevant approval, the invitation of bids, the management and handling of tender briefing sessions, the opening and recording of bids received, the determination of the completeness or incompleteness of the bids, the determination of the responsiveness of the bids, the evaluation of the bids, risk analysis, development of bid evaluation and adjudication reports, recommendation of bidders for appointment, and awarding of the tenders

All the above procurement phases will be subjected to probity checks.

The planned timeline for the execution of this phase of the work is:
• In June, there will be a Procurement Project Inception Meeting and the development of a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA).
• In July and August, the project team will be mobilised and information gathered, there will be a review of bid specifications, the approval of bid specifications and adverts, the advertisement of tenders, the receipt of bids, bid evaluation and bid adjudication. “Interested parties are therefore advised that the adverts for the tenders will be released during the course of July and they should therefore be on the lookout for them.
• In September, there will be the submission of bid evaluation and adjudication report to SANRAL, SANRAL Board consideration of recommendations, followed by the awarding of the tenders.

“Once the tenders are awarded and SANRAL’s Project Managers and Consultants begin to supervise contractor performance and project delivery, the DBSA’s role will change to project oversight on behalf of the Board, with regular reporting to the Board to ensure that these projects receive ongoing Board monitoring and support.

“Our procurement and implementation plan for these projects is therefore well and truly back on track, and we wish to reassure the nation that it shall be executed meticulously and with the independence and integrity required. We call upon the industry to join us in running an impeccable process whose results shall be in the best interest of SANRAL, the industry itself and the country as we jointly deliver on our road infrastructure development mandate and commitment to the nation,” said Memeza.

SANRAL leads KZN road repairs

After the torrential rains and flooding that swept through KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) in April, leading to President Cyril Ramaphosa declaring a national state of disaster in the province, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula tasked SANRAL to be the lead agency in rebuilding the road infrastructure, starting with an immediate focus on the N2 and N3 freeways.

SANRAL has allocated R3.1 billion to infrastructure repair projects, with KZN reprioritising its budget to reroute R2.6 billion to the repairs. Assessment by SANRAL engineers and representatives of the KZN Department of Transport enabled repairs to be prioritised where communities were completely cut off or forced to use the national roads and incur costs.

A section of the N2 was closed, and a temporary lane was constructed to get the northbound carriageway reopened and also to get contractors onto site to start reconstruction. “For areas that were badly affected and that require extensive work, this will be undertaken via emergency procurement. The procurement will prioritise the use of black suppliers and service providers in SANRAL’s quest for transformation in the construction industry,” said SANRAL’s Eastern Region Manager Dumisani Nkabinde.

 

Mbalula warned that repairs would not translate into immediate reopening of roads or railway lines, because the level of damage requires construction and rehabilitation that may take months to complete. SANRAL is doing everything in its power to expedite matters – but in some cases repair will take a month, while in others it could take six months or longer from the date of award to the contractor.

SANRAL’s Board made a resolution to suspend payment of toll fees at the oThongathi and Mvoti Plazas on the N2 toll route, at an estimated cost of R400 million over 18 months, to assist communities affected by closure of alternative routes damaged by the floods.

Safe System approach drives road safety

SANRAL plays a vital role in designing, constructing and maintaining a road traffic system that works to reduce human error and minimise crashes. SANRAL’s Engineering for Road Safety lead and project manager for the Eastern Region, Jason Lowe, describes the agency’s Safe System model.

All stakeholders in road safety are agreed that it is unacceptable that so many South Africans are being seriously injured or killed on our roads. This is also the premise at the heart of an approach to road safety that has been adopted by roads agencies across the globe, including SANRAL: the Safe System model.

The strength of the Safe System approach lies in its emphasis on our shared responsibility for road safety. To eliminate deaths and serious injuries requires everyone – from road users and policymakers to transport planners, vehicle manufacturers, infrastructure designers and roads agencies like SANRAL – to play their part.

The need for action is urgent, and the Safe System approach offers an effective framework for changing things through data-driven, evidence-based interventions. By leveraging innovation in infrastructure and our growing understanding of the human factors that influence risky behaviours, we can create a road system that protects lives and prevents injuries.

Many crashes are the result of risky behaviours and traffic violations, but others are caused by errors of perception and judgement. A road environment that guides user behaviour reduces the potential for mistakes, and is more forgiving when mistakes are made. This can vastly improve road safety outcomes.

An important aspect of the Safe System model is ensuring that engineering and design features encourage vehicles to operate at safe and appropriate speeds. Global evidence shows that speed deterrents, speed cameras and various traffic-calming measures can have a significant safety impact.

Last year the International Road Federation (IRF) officially recognised the agency’s road safety engineering efforts and awarded SANRAL the 2020 ‘Find a Way’ Global Road Safety Award.

 

In recent years, a number of SANRAL projects, such as the upgrades at various major intersections in Kimberley in the Northern Cape and the upgrade of the Moloto Road that spans Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo, have incorporated speed-calming measures. Installation of traffic circles in place of traditional intersections with traffic lights, for example, has reduced approach speeds and the potential for high-speed collisions.

Other aspects of road safety engineering prioritised on recent SANRAL projects include the widening and realignment of roads to allow for wider recovery areas and safer overtaking opportunities, while eliminating blind rises.

The Safe System approach also places emphasis on vulnerable road users such as pedestrians – who account for 35% to 40% of all road deaths in South Africa. SANRAL prioritises infrastructure that improves accessibility and safety for pedestrians, and
increases their visibility, such as pedestrian sidewalks, crossings, bridges and street lighting.

To end deaths and serious injuries on our roads, we need interventions that target the ways in which drivers and other road users interact with that environment. For this, we need behaviour change. Road user behaviour is a key pillar of the Safe System approach. Behavioural challenges such as distraction, substance abuse and failure to comply with the rules of the road – among drivers, pedestrians and other road users – all contribute to our road safety crisis.

Behavioural change interventions offer an important and often cost-effective way of addressing these. We need to better understand the complex factors underlying individual behaviour – and then design targeted, context-appropriate behavioural solutions.

Gathering data about road user behaviour is critical to this. Across the country, SANRAL’s growing Freeway Management System (FMS) captures valuable real-time information that can help optimise interventions and direct resources. SANRAL is also spearheading several research projects to better understand behaviour in specific locations and geographic areas. The outcomes will inform future engineering interventions.

Such an intelligence-led, data-driven approach to road safety is critical, but we can only unlock its full potential through effective partnerships across all sectors of society.

By coordinating our efforts in this way, we can achieve SANRAL’s vision of better, safer roads for all.

SMMEs gain from Kokstad Interchange project

Construction of the R563.50 million Kokstad Interchange, which includes the construction of a new Traffic Control Centre to house Kokstad-based members of the Road Traffic Inspectorate, is well under way. At least R169 million of the value of the work will be subcontracted to small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs), while just over R45 million will be spent on local labour.

The Kokstad Interchange is located along the R56 provincial route, from the existing intersection with the N2 to Kokstad town centre, a section of approximately 2km. The project is in the Harry Gwala Municipality and Greater Kokstad Local Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal.

“The upgrade will separate the N2 and the R56 and increase capacity, while significantly improving the level of service for the next 30 years,” said SANRAL’s Eastern Region Project Manager Mohamed Parak.

This project involves construction of a new interchange on the N2, section 21 (km 6.4) to replace the existing intersection of the N2 with the R56. The proposed interchange comprises a new three-span bridge which will carry traffic on the R56 over the N2 towards Kokstad or south towards Mthatha.

This project also includes widening an existing river bridge on the N2, extension of two existing box culverts, and construction of five new box culverts and a new agricultural underpass. It also involves realignment and upgrade of approximately 2km of the R56 towards Kokstad town centre. A new service road parallel to the R56 for approximately 1.4km will be constructed to serve existing businesses that access the R56 directly.

“In addition, the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport has partnered with SANRAL to include the construction of a new Traffic Control Centre as part of this project, to house Kokstad-based members of the Provincial Road Traffic Inspectorate and to have a facility to monitor and enforce overload control,” added Parak.

Works related to the Traffic Control Centre and the R56 beyond the SANRAL road reserve are funded by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport through a signed Memorandum of Agreement.

 

SANRAL Supplier Development portal and SMME Help Desks

Supporting suppliers

SANRAL is determined to support the post-COVID-19 economic recovery, development and social transformation of South Africa, primarily by maintaining and creating new jobs, especially for the youth, and in creating opportunities for small, medium and large black-owned enterprises.

In particular, SANRAL has made concerted efforts to empower females in its business operations by providing opportunities to B-BBEE level 1 and 2 businesses and predominantly employing women or subcontracting women-owned enterprises.

SANRAL’s procurement policy requires that 30% of main upgrade projects is ring-fenced for SMMEs, notably youth- and women-owned businesses, many of whom receive their first experience in the construction and engineering sectors by working on SANRAL projects.

In 2019/20, approximately R2.1 billion went to female black-owned contractors and R25 million to youth black-owned contractors.

 


Supplier Development portal

SANRAL’s online Supplier Development portal, a platform providing information for and engagement with SMMEs, was officially launched on 11 February 2022 and is live.

The portal is easy to navigate, and advertises tenders, especially second-tier tenders intended for SMMEs.

Check out the portal at https://sanralesdd.co.za/ 

 

 


SMME Help Desks

SANRAL’s SMME Help Desks have been in operation since 4 April 2022, and facilitate engagement between SANRAL and SMMEs who would like to contract with SANRAL projects, by providing advice and development support.

The Help Desks address challenges faced by SMMEs in developing within the construction and related fields, namely access to funding, mentorship and training, and equipment supply, through strategic partnerships with industry (MOUs). The desks also give SMMEs access to SANRAL’s partners and their offerings.

The services of the SMME Help Desks include:

  • Access to information
  • Details of SANRAL’s strategic partners and related opportunities
  • Offerings available through SANRAL’s strategic partnerships with industry
  • Subcontract tender information
  • Assistance with registration on required platforms for tender compliance

(CIDB, CSD, etc.)

  • SAP Ariba Supplier Enablement Registration
  • Letters of support/intent for access to finance
  • Requests for bidder feedback sessions
  • Queries or concerns

There is an SMME Help Desk for each region, and they may be contacted Monday to Friday during SANRAL’s usual operating hours:

 

SANRAL is pivotal in youth development pipeline

Heidie Harper – SANRAL’s General Manager of Skills Development 

From scholarships and bursaries to community development, training, and support for SMMEs, SANRAL builds much more than physical infrastructure.

Investment in future generations is a national priority as we work to steer South Africa on a path to growth and prosperity. Says SANRAL’s General Manager of Skills Development, Heidi Harper: “To this end, SANRAL plays a pivotal role in prioritising financial support for young people to learn, grow and develop. Through the SANRAL Bursary and Scholarship programme, the Skills Development Unit is currently assisting 250 scholars and 135 tertiary students to follow their dreams.”

Students at Universities, Universities of Technology and Technical and Vocational Education and Training institutions can now apply for a SANRAL bursary. SANRAL supports deserving qualifying students in the fields of transportation infrastructure, engineering and its related professions in the built environment, smart technologies, public sector infrastructure development and administration and other professions related to its core business.

Bursary Recipients

For the 2022 academic year, SANRAL is funding tertiary education at 16 institutions of higher learning, increased from nine institutions last year. This includes TVET colleges.

Adds Harper: “Mainstream universities cannot and never will be the answer to every child’s development. If we are to address the realities, needs and challenges of young people with regard to income security and skills development, we need to think outside of the box in terms of where and how young people learn and grow.”

Access the SANRAL scholarship and bursaries application forms online at www.nra.co.za
APPLICATIONS OPEN 1 JUNE AND CLOSE 30 SEPTEMBER

Scholarships are now available to all high school learners who are South African citizens, i.e. from Grade 8 to Grade 12, irrespective of their subject choice. The requirement is for learners to have an overall aggregate of 60%. The scholarship is based on academic merit and financial need, considering the background of learners.

Training and skills development, particularly for youth, also form a key component of many of SANRAL’s community development projects. SANRAL involves communities on its road construction projects with the aim to uplift those who live around its projects, and improve their socio-economic conditions.

 

Right to reply – Fin24 article published on the Board of SANRAL

Right to reply – Fin24 article published on the Board of SANRAL

Carol Paton and the news outlet (Fin24) she writes for have the right to express an opinion or even to take sides on any matter in the public domain. However, what they don’t have the right to is inserting their own (or someone else’s) opinion in a news article and then passing it on as news. And that is what, in our opinion, they did in the article of the 17th June 2020 titled Inside Sanral’s board, which makes controversial rules and lacks engineering know-how.

It is now common knowledge that the SANRAL Board’s decision not to approve the award of five tenders has upset some within the construction industry. Equally, the decision, which is perfectly legal and prudent, has also upset some within SANRAL who have chosen to pay allegiance to private sector interests.

The dissatisfaction has given rise to a “coalition of the disgruntled” which has sought to recruit some journalists to its cause. We shall not contest individual journalists’ choice as to which interests they want to advance but when such support is masqueraded as news, we shall call it out.

We have extensively dealt with the reasons why the SANRAL Board did not approve the award of the said tenders. And, by the way, this is not the first nor the last instance a tender is not awarded at SANRAL. Week in and week out, SANRAL’s Management Bid Adjudication Committee (MBAC) declines, for whatever legitimate reason, the award of some tenders. And whenever it does so, it would be acting within its delegated powers and in the best interest of SANRAL. It is a role that is not confined to MBAC but extends to the Board too, especially in relation to tenders with a value exceeding R750 million (as it happened in the instance of the five tenders).

We have also gone on record as saying those who are dissatisfied with the decision not to award the five tenders or deem it illegal are free to challenge it in a court of law. In a constitutional democracy like ours, matters of this nature are best settled in court, and not in the court of public opinion or by recruiting journalists to sway public opinion.

Seemingly not keen to go the legal route, the “coalition of the disgruntled” has decided the one strategy it will use is to question the suitability and/or qualifications of the SANRAL Board. To state the obvious, the SANRAL Board did not appoint itself neither did it extend its term. The appointment and decision to extend the Board’s term were taken by two different Ministers (Minister Blade Nzimande and Minister Fikile Mbalula respectively) and ratified by Cabinet. The different skills, abilities and qualities that go into the building of a balanced board of directors would have been one of the political leadership’s considerations in appointing the SANRAL Board.

But Ms Paton seemingly would have done a better job. She makes an issue about the engineering skills within the SANRAL Board and here she became guilty of editorializing or expressing an opinion in her purported news article. Journalism 101 should have taught her that editorializing happens when a writer consciously or unconsciously expresses doubt, censure or praise in a news story. Her doubts about the suitability of the SANRAL Board are all over the story – and do not sound original. Just a few weeks ago one captain of the construction industry expressed the same view. We would hate to think Ms Paton is reciting the same view parrot-like.

As a seasoned business writer, she will know that progressive boards today optimally reflect the strategic priorities of the business, the diversity of its stakeholders and, in the case of a state-owned entity like ours, the socio-economic outlook of the Shareholder (i.e. government). The notion that engineers are the exclusive group of professionals who can shape the strategic direction of SANRAL is as silly as it is arrogant.

But even so, the SANRAL Board does have two directors, as admitted by Ms Paton herself, who are engineers. But to her they are not good enough because they have not worked in the private sector. It is here that she really nails her colours to the mast and shows her bias – that which is private sector is intrinsically good and that which is public sector is suspect. It will take Ms Paton a lot of reading and a major review of hundreds of academic studies for her to realise that there is no empirical evidence that the private sector or those who have been exposed to it are intrinsically more efficient than the public sector.

Also, it is intriguing that the qualifications of the Board have never arisen in the three years of its tenure. It is becoming an issue now simply because the Board has taken a decision that may not be in the interest of certain vested interests. And to the latter, we plead guilty. But of one thing we are certain: we took a decision in line with proper governance and which is in the best interest of SANRAL. In certain instances, such as where the threshold for black empowerment participation was lowered or excluded without Board approval, the decision not to approve the awards is in line with the organization’s commitment to transformation.

As for the under-reporting (a manifestation of media bias) of the qualifications of SANRAL’s Acting CEO, Ms Paton could not allow facts to get in the way of a “good” story. Probably keen to demonstrate to her readers how unsuitable Ms Lehlohonolo Pitse is to be acting as CEO (this despite the fact that non-engineers and less qualified candidates have previously acted as CEOs), she omitted some of the qualifications sent to her.

The article refers to Ms Pitse as a “certified auditor with a BCom degree”. For the record, in SANRAL’s response to questions by Ms Paton preceding the publishing of her article, Ms Pitse’s qualifications were indicated as follows: BCom Financial Accounting, BCom Honours (Internal Auditing), MPhil (Internal Auditing), all obtained from the University of Pretoria, and Certified Internal Auditor.

As for the insinuation that the rest of the Board is but a bunch of nobodies we shall not blow our own trumpets save to say these are people who have broken barriers both for themselves and many South Africans. If Ms Paton read their CVs she would understand why they sit on that Board and be ashamed of her article.

On the issue of underspending, apart from the impact of COVID-19 on the rollout of projects, the implementation of supply chain management reform to comply with Treasury regulations on procurement, and the delays caused by the longest standing impasse between SANRAL and National Treasury on the 30% subcontracting clause, which took 18 months to complete, the SANRAL Board does not determine when tenders are advertised and evaluated. Involvement in such operational matters would constitute overreach by the Board.

If Ms Paton had done her research on the underspending, she would have come across the above-mentioned reasons, which our Management gave a few months ago, as to why there has been an underspending on projects. Also noteworthy, is the explanation Management gave that the majority of projects are not delayed between adjudication and award, but rather between closing of advertisements and completing of the evaluations.

But because of her bias, Ms Paton might have been oblivious to these reasons, even to one as obvious as COVID-19, and instead chosen to blame the Board for the underspending. It is here that we wonder whether hers is not the worst form of media bias.

Looking at the definition of media bias, it is the tendency to lean towards or against someone or something in one’s reporting. The direction in which a journalist leans can be influenced by a variety of factors – such as racial identity, culture and the biases of one’s sources. We hold Ms Paton in the highest regard to think any of these would have influenced her article and perspective. Sometimes, bias is something a writer is aware of, and this is known as explicit bias. We would not accuse Ms Paton of such. However, implicit or unconscious bias is something one does not realise one has. In her case, we think it is more the latter.

 

 

West Coast SMMEs invited to subcontract on N7 upgrade

SANRAL recently engaged with SMMEs in West Coast District Municipality, to encourage them to apply for subcontracting tenders for the N7 upgrade between Rooidraai and Moorreesburg. The R600 million project has just under three years left of construction, and there are still significant opportunities for subcontractors. “We are actively encouraging SMMEs to tender for work packages, particularly for 1CE and 2CE graded entities, where we stress that no prior experience is necessary,” said SANRAL Project Manager Petronella Theron.