THE Cape Chamber of Commerce is concerned that there may not be enough bitumen available for the construction of the N1 and N2 wine lands toll roads as well as to maintain existing roads.
“There has been a shortage of bitumen for several years and this has led to costly delays in construction projects and even the repair of potholes,” said Mr Michael Bagraim, president of the Chamber.
He pointed out that the Gauteng toll road project was held up several times because of the shortage of tar and this was one of the factors which increased costs.
“The toll road delays were just the most visible part of the problem. Other projects had to compete for bitumen supplies and because they were smaller they frequently came off second best to the toll road contractors.”
Mr Bagraim said we should ask whether there would be enough bitumen available in the Cape for the municipalities to maintain their roads while the big SANRAL project was gobbling up most of the local supplies.
There was already a shortage of bitumen and evidence of this could be seen on Boyes Drive where expensive construction equipment had been standing idle for days because there was no bitumen available. Other companies were also being crippled by the bitumen shortage.
“The situation will become much worse when work starts on the toll roads. It will force up the cost of every other road construction project and there will be even more days when plant stands idle and workers twiddle their thumbs because SANRAL has grabbed all the available bitumen.”
A leading asphalt company reports that the there has been a shortage of bitumen for several years and that there have been shortages of 20 percent to 35 percent in some months in the last five years.
Mr Bagraim said the Chamber would like an assurance from SANRAL that they had made arrangements to obtain all the bitumen they needed without prejudicing the supply to the municipalities and other construction projects.
“In the circumstances it may be advisable to delay the Cape toll road projects until there is sufficient bitumen available to do the job without damaging other sectors of the economy,” he said.