In a recent development that has stirred the construction and procurement landscape, the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) finds itself in the midst of a high court challenge. This legal battle centers around Sanral’s alleged unilateral introduction of a new preferential procurement scoring system for its tenders, without proper consultation with affected parties.

The Controversial Change

The heart of the matter lies in the new scoring system that Sanral has implemented. This system reportedly diminishes the significance of the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) Act ratings for the majority of bidders, raising concerns about fairness and transparency. One of the key players in this challenge is H&I Construction, which has filed an urgent application to halt the use of this system in specific tenders. H&I Construction contends that the new scoring methodology presents severe obstacles, making it nearly impossible for companies like theirs to compete fairly and effectively.

Transparency and Consultation Under Scrutiny

One of the core issues raised is the lack of consultation with those directly affected by the new scoring system. H&I Construction asserts that Sanral made this significant change without involving relevant stakeholders in the decision-making process. This absence of proper consultation has led to questions about the validity of the new system, particularly whether it has been approved by Sanral’s board. The absence of board approval evidence on the Sanral website adds to the skepticism surrounding the new scoring criteria.

Legal Grounds for Challenge

The legal challenge brought forth by H&I Construction highlights several key reasons why the new scoring system may fall short of legal requirements. One concern is the potential lack of transparency resulting from Sanral’s intention to independently engage with bidders regarding the scoring criteria. This approach introduces the risk of subjectivity and manipulation, raising doubts about the fairness of the evaluation process.

Industry-wide Impact

The ripple effect of this legal challenge extends beyond H&I Construction. Wilson Bayly Holmes-Ovcon (WBHO), a prominent construction and engineering group, has also stepped into the fray by joining H&I Construction’s application. WBHO shares concerns about the constitutionality and lawfulness of Sanral’s new scoring system. Furthermore, other construction companies, including Raubex and Stefanutti Stocks, have expressed support for H&I Construction’s cause, considering their potential participation in tenders that employ the controversial scoring approach.

A Call for Clarity

In response to the challenge, Sanral’s stance has been to process the matter legally, indicating a forthcoming litigation process. While the construction companies involved acknowledge the legal proceedings, they emphasize their intention to advocate for a transparent and fair bidding process, where the rules are clear and the playing field level.


As the legal battle unfolds, the construction and procurement sectors in South Africa closely watch the outcomes and implications of this challenge. The case underscores the significance of stakeholder consultation, transparency, and fairness in procurement procedures. The outcome of this legal action has the potential to influence the direction of procurement practices and policies, not only within Sanral but across the broader landscape of public procurement in the country.

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