JSE-listed construction company Group Five on Monday announced that it had been awarded two contracts with a combined value of R3,5-billion, as part of the South African National Road Agency Limited’s (Sanral’s) R11,5-billion, Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP).

Group Five’s participation would be spread over three years, and as the lead contractor for the two contracts, its share would be about half of the total value.

Sanral marketing and communications project manager Wendy Watson told Engineering News Online that further contracts for involvement in the GFIP had been offered to CMS, Siyavaya, GLMB, and Basil Read.

Group Five’s contracts comprise lane additions and improvements to interchanges on the N1 freeway between Soweto and 14th Avenue, and the N3/N12/N17 freeway complex including the Reading and Elands interchanges.

Beyond lane widening and interchange improvements, the broader Sanral project would include intelligent transport management systems, such as cameras, ramp metering and electronic signage.

“These contracts are in line with our stated strategy of focusing on larger, higher-margin South African infrastructure contracts with longer lead times. Importantly, they are in close proximity to our construction materials quarries, which will allow for the efficient delivery of materials,” said Group Five CEO Mike Upton.

The newly awarded Sanral contracts followed the contract for the upgrade of the N1 between the R21 interchange and the Atterbury interchange, east of Pretoria, which was awarded in mid-2007 to building and civil engineering company Basil Read, and where construction was well under way.

About 125,5 km of road would be upgraded in the first phase of the GFIP, and Sanral said the project had been prioritised for completion before the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

The contracts awarded to Group Five would involve the firm’s Roads and Civil Engineering teams. The contracts were particularly attractive to Group Five as they comprised a mix of heavy civils and road content.

In line with Sanral’s request for a combination of large, medium and smaller contractors on the contracts, Group Five’s joint-venture partners include Power Construction, Liviero, Bophelong and Umso, which it has partnered with some of these companies before.