Prosper Ndlovu, Business Editor
THE bidding process for the $60 million Egodini Mall project in Bulawayo closed on Friday with contractor — Terracotta Private Limited — saying construction work would now start in April 2018. Companies from Bulawayo and other parts of the country have submitted their bids to participate in the ambitious project, which is expected to change the face of the city. The mega-project to be undertaken in phases, is expected to create thousands of jobs during construction and after completion. Despite concerns the project has taken long to commence, Terracotta management says preliminary processes and technical consultations are being concluded to ensure smooth implementation and a buy in from diverse stakeholders.
A request for pre-qualification (“RFQ”) for a main contractor was issued in October 2017, followed by a tender briefing session that was held a few weeks ago in Bulawayo.
“The RFQ closed this past Friday. The purpose of the RFQ was to shortlist bidders who meet the technical and financial benchmarks. Short listed bidders will be given 30 days to price a detailed bill of quantities indicating their contract price,” said Terracotta in response to Business Chronicle questions.
“By asking bidders during the RFQ stage to outline localised labour and materials procurement plans, we want them to plan how they will ensure locally resident labour and locally based materials supply businesses will benefit from this project.”
Terracotta said the integrated Egodini Mall and Intermodal Public Transport Hub construction project has received a “fair response” in in terms of contractors wishing to participate in the project but would not divulge the figures.
“Due to the size and complexity involved, we expected a limited number of contractors to meet the main contractor requirements for this project.
“Notwithstanding, what the RFQ process has enabled us to do is to obtain a very good understanding of prospective contractors available locally who can still be involved in the project as sub-contractors to the main contractor. Accordingly, there remains significant scope to accommodate a number of companies on the project,” said Tearracotta.
“In terms of our project plan, our intention is start construction works in April 2018.”
The firm, however, said prior to commencement of the project, the Bulawayo City Council would first remove all existing occupants and then hand it over to Terracotta as developer of the project.
“It is only at that point that we will be in a position to hand the site over to the main contractor to start construction work. In this regard, we have written to BCC requesting a meeting in the coming weeks to confirm their state of readiness for site hand over and to co-ordinate our joint efforts to ensure construction work commences according to the project programme,” said Tearracotta.
About 1 100 informal traders and 2 000 public transport operators make a living from operating at Egodini. With limited alternative economic opportunities, Terracotta said it was important that implementation of the project prevents prolonged disruptions to commercial activities.
Council has proposed temporary relocation of informal traders and public transport operators to other sites during the construction period. However, some stakeholders have expressed reservations over these venues. Terracotta has since invited leaders of affected informal traders and public transport operators’ associations to a workshop this week to explain to them that implementation will be done with minimal disruption to the trading activities of their members.
Terracotta said the phased development approach would ensure informal traders and public transport operators will be relocated back onto site on completion of Phase 1, which will enable them to start trading in the shortest time possible while allowing Phase 2 of the development to occur simultaneously.
The firm plans to launch a broad based retail equity scheme simultaneously or shortly after construction ground breaking in April 2018. This will provide Bulawayo residents opportunity to subscribe as equity participants in the project.
“Ordinary residents will be entitled to collectively subscribe for no more than a 30 percent equity interest in the project in terms of a public offer process to be undertaken in terms of relevant legislation.
“An independent, experienced and credible advisory firm will manage the public offer process. To ensure its success, we intend engaging a locally based financial institution or pension fund to underwrite the public offer,” said Terracotta.
The firm assured Bulawayo that the project was on despite insinuations by some that it was likely to be cancelled. Terracotta said it has been working closely with council management and technical team at all stages of consultation and ruled out any possibility of a collapse of the investment.
“We, therefore, do not agree with the allegations contending that we have no intention to implement the development and that we are instead on a speculative mission, as the real facts on the ground suggest otherwise,” said Tearracotta.
“Having just closed our RFQ process to appoint a main construction contractor for the project, as well as having recently written to BCC to request a meeting to discuss their own state of readiness for site handover, we find these misplaced allegations to be extremely harmful and counterproductive for investment promotion, economic development and much needed job creation for the city of Bulawayo.”