Sanral files charges against construction firms in South Africa accused of collusion

Sanral files charges against construction firms in South Africa accused of collusion

South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) has filed a case in civil damages claims at the Gauteng Local Division High Court against the construction companies that the competition authorities had lodged investigations into for alleged involvement in collusive conduct.

Seven firms and joint ventures were served with papers for claims of between US$40 million and US$50 million for work undertaken countrywide, including the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP).

Sanral claims it suffered overcharges and damages and resulting from the companies’ alleged collusive conduct.

While Sanral did mention all the defendants it was targeting, Raubex as well as Murray & Roberts (M&R) confirmed early this week that they had been served with civil summonses from Sanral.

M&R said it would defend the summonses and added that there were a number of road works listed that it did not undertake.

This comes after an ongoing, years-long exercise by the Competition Commission and Competition Tribunal that led to 15 major construction companies being fined a collective US$961.9 million for “rampant” collusive tendering connected to projects done between 2006 and 2011.

In 2013, a total of 21 companies in the construction industry had sent applications to the commission under a ‘Construction Fast-Track Settlement Process’, which covered instances of anti-competitive behavior and collusion in over 300 public- and private-sector projects worth with an estimated value of US$3 million.

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) on Tuesday slammed what it says was a merely a “slap in the face” response by Sanral, and chairperson Wayne Duvenage stated that it has taken Sanral “nearly three years” to come up with a “miniscule calculation” of up to US$ 50 million in a process that was “vague and lacking in detail”.

Sanral’s move came after “months of hard work” in an effort to come up with a tentative figure in terms of the damages suffered by the roads agency,” Sanral spokesperson Vusi Mona said in a statement this week.