….. AfDB agrees to finance a feasibility study, roads designs
By Phephile Motau
There is a glimmer of hope for emaSwati and businesses heavily relying on the MR 14 – Siphofaneni – Sithobelweni Road and MR 14 – MR21 – Nsoko – Maloma – Siphambanweni Roads as the government will embark on the preliminary works of upgrading the roads to bitumen standard.
The primary works which the government will resume are the conducting of feasibility studies and providing detailed designs of the roads. To the ordinary liSwati, the upgrade of the roads will result in the reduction of travel costs and easy access to basic amenities, and to businesses, this will result in improved ease of doing business (reduction of transport expenses and quick accessibility of markets).
This follows an agreement reached by the government and the African Development Bank (AfDB) to utilise the savings realised from the loan for the construction of the Manzini Golf Course Interchange. The Eswatini Financial Times has reliably learnt that the two parties, the government (Ministry of Public Works and Transport and the Ministry of Finance) and AfDB agreed that the savings would be used for an update of a feasibility study and detailed designs of the two roads.
The MR14 is one of the eight projects worth over E6 billion identified by the government and the AfDB and the latter will approve its funding between now and 2024. It is estimated to cost about E2 billion.
This is according to the mid-term report of the implementation of the Bank’s 2020-2024 Country Strategy Paper (CSP) for Eswatini and the 2022 country portfolio performance.
The Ministry of Public Works and Transport in its most recent annual report (2022) said the processes to procure consultancy services have commenced which includes approval from the funders. The process is expected to last 12 months from the time of the award of the consultancy services tender. Thereafter the project will be ready for funding and “funding modalities are ongoing with potential funders that include AfDB,” the ministry said.
Outstandingly, the government has since issued an expression of interest (EOI) which has been published on the AfDB website where they invite eligible consultants to indicate their interest in providing these services.
According to the document, the specific objective is to perform the necessary engineering, economic and environmental studies, and identification of optimal, cost-effective, and economically justified standards of the options for the required physical project upgrading to the paved standard of approximately 110 km of sections of gravel roads along the country’s eastern road corridor in the Lubombo and Shiselweni regions.
The EOI states that the consultancy services assignment includes, but is not limited to the feasibility study where the consultant will undertake a feasibility study which shall include the review of existing documentation; survey of existing road and environs condition; traffic, Origin-Destination, and Axle load surveys and hydrological survey.
They will also be expected to conduct social Assessments and Safeguards, Economic analysis, and established economic evaluation criteria and models for a 20-year design period and an environmental and Social Impact Assessment.
The consultant will also be expected to conduct a detailed Engineering Design where they will use the data and information collected from the Feasibility Study to prepare a detailed engineering design for the alignment.
The document states that specifically, the detailed engineering design shall include but not be limited to the detailed Road Alignment and Detailed Soil investigation survey on the proposed alignment.
Upon completion of the detailed design, they will stake out the right-of-way limits in sufficient detail for the boundaries of properties that are to be expropriated and acquired. The consultant will also prepare a detailed pavement design for a 20-year design life based on design standards stipulated in the Ministry of Public Works and Transport design standards or other international best practices in consultation with the ministry.
They will also prepare the detailed design of Structures; a bill of quantities and a cost estimate; and the consultant shall also prepare drawings and bidding documents to allow for the procurement of works to undertake the work.
The duration of the assignment is eight months and the deadline for submission is April 7. The ministry said interested consultants must provide information indicating that they are qualified to perform the services (brochures, description of similar assignments, experience in similar conditions, availability of appropriate skills among staff, etc.). Consultants may constitute joint ventures to enhance their chances of qualification.