A drive through Cape Town City Centre is not complete without the puzzling view of the incomplete Foreshore freeway. Over the years, many have wondered why these unfinished bridges remain floating in the air with little practical use.
Construction on the now infamous freeway began in the 1970s, after the City set out to improve transportation infrastructure. The City had approved a new design that would feature sweeping highways above the traffic, which were intended to make Cape Town a modern city. In 1997 however, construction halted without explanation after parts of the freeway had already been paved.
These unfinished sections remained for decades.
Over the years, many residents and visitors pondered the reason for this end to construction, with some citing engineering mistakes and others rumoured issues with land ownership. The official explanation that has been provided is that they could no longer afford to complete the build. According to The Conversation, this was because the South African government was redirecting funds to spend on building new townships, like Mitchells Plain.
In 2016, the City of Cape Town’s City Manager issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to finish the bridge, and Mitchell du Plessis Associates (MDA) won the bid. Areas marked for development included the CTICC parking garage, the area between the existing freeways and Heerengracht and DF Malan Street, the area between the existing freeways and DF Malan and Jan Smuts Streets and the area between the existing freeways and Jan Smuts and Christiaan Barnard Streets, reports The South African. The project was set to cost R8-billion.
By 2018, however, the tender process was scrapped due to legal concerns and controversy over alleged nepotism and prejudice.
“Having received legal advice‚ the city concluded that a lack of sufficient clarity in the request for proposals documentation rendered the evaluation criteria vague,” explained City manager, Lungelo Mbandazayo. “Procurement processes must be compliant with the rule of law. There must be no doubt about the integrity of these processes and‚ as such‚ I have decided to cancel the request for proposals.”
“Furthermore‚ the economic outlook for the country has become significantly weaker since the issuing of the request for proposals two years ago. This change‚ together with the additional burdens that the city‚ its ratepayers‚ and residents are facing at the moment‚ cannot be ignored.”
Mbandazayo said the City would reconsider the project and make an announcement when a decision has been reached. To date, no new announcements have been made.
Today, the incomplete freeway is often used as a movie set, and in television and advertisement shoots. Episodes of Fear Factor and Black Mirror have been filmed there, as well as scenes for Honey 3 starring international singer Cassie.