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Patricia de Lille, the Mayor of Cape Town, has intervened in the scrapping of a multi-billion rand freeway redevelopment project. She says although the Request for Proposals (RFP) process has been cancelled, the project is not at an end. On Sunday the Mayor issued a statement saying the cancellation of the proposals “does not mean the project is dead and buried”.

Effectively the proposal that has now been buried is the winning bidder's one - which 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.

The precinct was envisaged to include the erection of 3 200 “market-related” residential units and a minimum of 450 affordable residential units. It has been reported that the cost of the project was expected to be at least R8 billion.

Last week, the City Manager Lungelo Mbandazayo had informed the Mayor, she reported, that the formal RFP for the future of the Foreshore Freeway Precinct was to be cancelled, following consideration of the appeals against the identification of one qualifying bidder. “The City Manager, as the appeal authority, cancelled the RFT based on the appeals he received and after taking legal advice.”

De Lille noted that in July 2016, the city had launched the RFT for the future development of the Foreshore Freeway Precinct. “The commencement of a formal process to address the unfinished freeways and the future development of the six-hectare precinct, followed decades of uncertainty and inaction.”

In her recent statement, she said growing traffic volumes in and out of the city had resulted in “intolerable congestion which needs to be addressed”. The six hectares of prime City-owned land, sterilised by the uncertain future of the unfinished freeways, presented an opportunity for traffic congestion to be addressed without burdening the ratepayers with the costs of what was always viewed as unaffordable infrastructure”.

The Mayor said: “It is disappointing that our first attempt did not work out.  However, the cancellation of the RFP does not mean that the project is cancelled.  The need to address the future of the unfinished freeways remains.  So too does the need ensure access to affordable housing in our city centre.”

On Friday 14 July the City announced that the six bidders had been notified of the decision. It was reported 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.

The City’s media desk confirmed that the Stage 1 bid evaluation process was concluded in February 2018. Several appeals and objections were lodged that contested the application of the evaluation criteria as set out in the RFP documentation.

The Foreshore Freeway project has been mired in the controversy over the attempted axing of Mayor Patricia de Lille.

Former executive director in the Mayor’s directorate 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.

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