Construction of Africa’s highest bridge gets underway

Construction of Africa’s highest bridge gets underway

August 10, 2023

The South African National Roads Agency SOC Limited (Sanral) has announced the commencement of construction of the R4 billion Mtentu Bridge, which will be the highest bridge in Africa and one of the longest of its type in the world.

Sanral awarded the contract for the construction to the China Communications Construction Company and MECSA Construction joint venture on November 1 last year.

The Mtentu Bridge contract has an estimated budget of R4.05 billion.

Construction of the bridge is anticipated to take 50 months, with an expected conclusion date of end 2027. This comes after a four-month mobilisation period that started on April 5.

“During the mobilisation period, Sanral engaged with stakeholders of the Northern and Southern banks of the Mtentu Bridge,” said Mbulelo Peterson, Sanral southern regional manager.

Local stakeholders have received news of the rewarding of the contract with excitement and look forward to work resuming following delays caused by the project stoppage in October 2018.”

Once completed, the Mtentu Bridge will be the highest in Africa and one of the longest cantilever bridges in the world, with a main span of 260 metres at a maximum height of around 223 metres.

This week, 15 general workers started with the construction of the site offices, while 30 general labourers will undergo medicals and safety inductions. Once that is completed, they will commence with site clearance.

In addition, two newly qualified unemployed civil engineering graduates have been recruited through the Project Liaison Committee to work under this contract.

Construction of boreholes on the north and south banks will begin on August 15, while construction of toilets, installation of security measures, and the relocation of affected households will kick off on September 1.

The Mtentu Bridge forms part of Sanral’s N2 Wild Coast Road (N2WCR) programme, which entails a 410-kilometre stretch of road from East London to the Mtamvuna River near Port Edward.

Endorsed by the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission, the N2WCR programme forms part of the government’s 18 Strategic Infrastructure Projects programme.

The N2WCR’s key purpose is to serve as a catalyst to uplift economic growth in the Eastern Cape and KZN provinces.

The Mtentu Bridge contract has a local labour Contract Participation Goal of 4%.

This will see a minimum of R141 million paid to local labour in wages and salaries, creating a minimum of 1080 full-time employment jobs for local skilled and unskilled persons during the contract.

“We are excited about the massive socio-economic impact presented by the construction of the Mtentu Bridge in this region,” Peterson said.

“Approximately 1 800 full-time equivalent jobs will be created during construction.

“While numbers will vary during the contract, this equates to an average approximate number of 360 jobs created per month over 50 months, of whom about 300 will be for locals.

The scope of the new Mtentu tender has been expanded from the original terminated contract to include the upgrading of 18 km of a provincial road, linking the future Mkhambati Interchange to the Flagstaff-Holy Cross road.

It will provide a direct link from the future N2 to the town of Flagstaff, as well as the construction of three nearby community access roads.

“The Project Liaison Committee (PLC) that will oversee the smooth implementation of the project and safeguard the interests of the local community is in place following its election by local stakeholders in 2021.

“This PLC structure will be instrumental in ensuring that the 30% contract participation goal set on the contract is achieved, ensuring that it benefits the intended beneficiaries,” Peterson added.

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