Johannesburg - The tender awarded for the construction of the second phase of eThekwini Water and Sanitation's (EWS) R950m western aqueduct project has been delayed, the eThekwini Municipality said on Thursday.
Western aqueduct is a bulk water supply project commissioned by the utility.
The project was put under the spotlight after a number of construction firms which had tendered for the contract objected when a joint venture by EsorFranki and Cycad Construction won it.
Western aqueduct project manager Andrew Copley said all procedures were stopped after three objections were filed against the decision to award the contract to the EsorFranki/Cycad joint venture.
"The procurement and the legal departments of the municipality are currently working in conjunction with EWS to formulate an official reply to these objections and hopefully settle the award disputes soon. Until this matter has been resolved, no work will proceed on the construction of this phase of the project," he said.
Copley said there were various procedures and protocols which needed to be fulfilled before a tender application was deemed
A variety of criteria, including black empowerment equity, price and quality were assessed, he said.
"The awarding of the contract is based on the most advantageous offer received by eThekwini Municipality and not necessarily on the lowest price received," he said.
In January, Malcolm Lobban, CEO of civil engineering and construction group Sanyati Holdings, said he was "mystified and taken aback" by the lack of communication from Ethekwini Municipality following its tender, which he believed was the lowest.
"We submitted our bid in February last year and were adjudged as the lowest, with a price of R699.4m. WBHO (Wilson Bayly Holmes-Ovcon) were about 2.8% higher than us and their price was R720.1m," Lobban said.
He said that after February 2010, Sanyati and six other bidders had been asked to extend the validity of their bids no less than four times between February and December 15.
"We were somewhat mystified, therefore, when we established on January 11 that the municipality (in a letter dated December 16 addressed to one of the other bidders) was seeking to award the contract to Esorfranki, whose bid price was R864.1m," Lobban said.
The tender was advertised on 6 November 2009 and was closed for submission on February 19, 2010. Seven tenders were received for the construction of the approximately 55km long pipeline.
"The delay in the commencement of construction of this project arising as a result of the objections that were received will inevitably result in some inconveniences and additional costs to all concerned," said Copley.
Phase II would stretch from the Inchanga Railway Station to the three terminal reservoirs in Ntuzuma, Mount Moriah and Tshelimnyama. It is anticipated that construction would take 30 months to complete.
"Being the largest bulk water pipeline ever commissioned by EWS to date, it is essential that for the sheer size of the pipelines and the fact that the route passes urban (residential and commercial) areas, the construction of this project be undertaken by a most experienced and resourced contractor. This will alleviate the impact that such works will have in the regions crossed by the pipelines," Copley said.