Franki Africa’s geotechnical champion

Dulce Simoes Piling

It takes more than the highest levels of ground engineering expertise and experience to be Keller’s Franki Africa, Africa’s geotechnical champion. Much more!  It takes business acumen, customer service excellence, team-building skills, and a whole lot more.

Among the important skills required to wear this crown, especially in these times of challenging economic conditions, are the abilities to reconfigure original tender specs to suit local conditions, to run successful branches in African countries and, where no branches exist, to work across borders, sometimes in very remote and harsh environments, often having to transport heavy machinery over very long distances.

 Multisports Complex, Mauritius

One of these successful branches is Mauritius where Country Manager Yannis Mongelard runs a tight and successful enterprise. One of the contracts which exemplifies both his branch’s and Franki’s all-round skills is the Mauritius Multisports project currently under way. This involves the construction of a new sports complex for the Indian Ocean Games scheduled for July 2019 at Cote D’Or, St Pierre, Mauritius, and includes athletic training grounds and track, a football pitch, an aquatic centre and a multipurpose gym.

The Government of Mauritius contracted the construction and development of the complex to the Mauritius Multisports Infrastructure Ltd (MMIL), a state-owned enterprise. The board of the MMIL constitutes seven Directors, currently under the Chair of Mr. V. Gopee.

Mongelard says that the tender, which was launched in December 2017 with anticipated start in early 2018, stipulated 96 days for the piling work. “This was not possible for a host of different reasons at that time,” he says.

Franki’s response was typical of the company’s ability to size up a situation and offer the client a different – and better – alternative. “We submitted a solution which was cheaper, allowed for an earlier start and which could considerably cut down on the length of the job under normal circumstances. Moreover, it enabled us to work with the plant we had on the island at the time, which contributed significantly to the cost saving on the project.”

Mongelard adds that from the original piling-only solution in the tender, Franki further enhanced efficiencies with a solution comprising a mix of piling and ground improvement. “The Original tender specs involved the installation of more than 850 Temporary Cased Auger piles of various sizes drilled to an average depth of 21m. Our ultimate solution comprised ground improvement in conjunction with a mix of piling techniques optimised to support each of the structures.”

He explains further that piling and ground Improvement was required, following geotechnical investigations that found worse than expected ground conditions. “Moreover, the required bearing capacity of the backfilled soils could not be achieved, so deep foundations (piles) were opted for.”

Detail of the accepted solutions

Stadium & Skydeck:

  • 432 nos x 610mm Driven Cast In-Situ piles to an average depth of 16m
  • 33 nos x 520mm Driven Cast In-Situ piles an average depth of 16m


  • 124 nos x 610mm Driven Cast In-Situ piles an average depth of 16m

Aquatic Centre

  • 30 nos x 1080mm Auger piles to 20m deep for the roof structure
  • 180 nos x 520mm Driven Cast In-Situ piles for the back-of-house
  • 493 nos x 410mm x 9m deep Rigid Inclusions for the main and warm-up swimming pools

Multi-Purpose Arena/Gym

  • 48 nos x 1200mm x 20m deep + 7 nos x 1200mm x 6m deep Auger piles for the roof structure
  • 629 nos x 450mm x 9m deep Rigid Inclusions for the back-of-house and the field of play

Dealing with delays

While these solutions could have cut down on production time, it turned out that high rainfall and the clayey platform made it almost impossible to achieve the daily minimum production from the start. In addition, the platform works could not proceed because the earthmoving vehicles were unable to work efficiently. In this regard, Franki requested a thick stone mattress in lieu of the soft soil platform. This was provided drastically improving productivity.

“In spite of six weeks being lost due to weather and related platform issues, works have already been completed at the Stadium and the Skydeck is still under progress whereby the newly agreed completion time was set September 2018. The stone mattress, an additional piling rig and longer working hours have made that a certainty,” says Mongelard.

The piling works started early June 2018 and, in terms of budget, the cost of Franki’s alternative solution will still be less than the original alternative solution- hence the project is within budget.

“This is an important and high-profile contract in Mauritius and our success is based on excellent teamwork. The ability to work as a team and the support we have received (and always get), from Brian McDonald and Head Office in general, is typical of Franki’s commitment to ensuring the best possible service to our clients,” Mongelard concludes.

Civil Engineering Magazine – November 2018