The City of Cape Town appears poised to cancel the Foreshore Freeway project which has been mired in the controversy over the attempted axing of Mayor Patricia de Lille. Now the new City Manager Lungelo Mbandazayo, who took up his post earlier this year, is pondering whether to cancel the request for proposals relating to the project
The so-called “hanging freeway” project now looks to be in the balance. It is not clear whether the whole process of calling for proposals will be reopened.
In February this year, the City of Cape Town announced that Mitchell Du Plessis Projects (Pty) Ltd, trading as Mitchell Du Plessis Associates, had been announced as the qualifying bidder for the development of the foreshore freeway precinct in the Mother City.
Mitchell du Plessis was selected from seven proposals received from the private sector.
The city noted at the time that MDA’s proposals entailed the completion of the unfinished sections of the freeway – connecting Helen Suzman Boulevard, which runs from the city to Sea Point, and the connections to and from the N1 and N2 freeways. Combined with this was the erection of 3 200 “market-related” residential units and a minimum of 450 affordable residential units.
It was reported that MDA proposed to complete the highways “and to finance or cross-subsidise the new roads and affordable residential units through the development of upmarket and mid-market residential units”, according to a local news report at the time.
It was envisaged that there be 11 new tower blocks - with heights ranging between 63m, 123m and 143m - constructed with views of the mountain, sea and harbour.
However, the project has been mired with controversy. Former director in the directorate of the mayor Craig Kesson, wrote in an affidavit that there had been an inappropriate discussion on 5 September 2017 relating to the bid evaluation process.
He also reported, according to News24, that Moore Stephens, who advised the city on the tender issues, criticised the conduct of the commissioner of transport and urban development authority Melissa Whitehead. Kesson reported that Moore Stephens said Whitehead had stated that a particular bid should be rejected because Mayoral Committee Member for Transport Brett Herron – a key ally of Mayor de Lille – as well as “the mayor (de Lille) and the deputy mayor (Ian Neilson) said they will never accept the… proposal”.
Whitehead has been on paid suspension since the beginning of the year.
The Kesson affidavit has been a key element of evidence used against Mayor de Lille in the Democratic Alliance’s attempts to remove De Lille as mayor. Kesson, who was also suspended after his revelations became public, has since been reinstated. He is now executive director of corporate services.
The Messenger South Africa asked Lungelo Mbandazayo, the City Manager, whether the project had now been cancelled. He replied through the city’s media desk: “I have not yet made a decision to cancel the request for proposals relating to the Foreshore Freeway project. I can confirm that we have solicited representations and will decide on a way forward in due course.”
In an address to the full council in April, the mayor said the city’s executive management team had been briefed on the city’s foreshore freeway project and the city “is currently processing objections to the announcement of the qualifying bidder”.
She said at the time that projects of this kind were set to bring great benefit “to our residents linking them to economic and housing opportunities that are located close to public transport. Our goal is to create a compact and well-connected city and get rid of apartheid spatial planning that has put so many people far away from opportunities”.
That appears to have been the last time she mentioned the project.
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