THE breathtaking Msikaba Bridge in the Eastern Cape demands not just an excellent result, but also a collaborative process that engages local communities and small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs).
That’s according to Lebogang Matlala, site agent for Concor Infrastructure which is constructing the bridge near Lusikisiki over the Msikaba River in a joint venture with Mota Engil Construction (MECSA).
When complete it will be the longest cable-stayed bridge in Africa, with a tower-to-tower length of 580 metres.
It is a vital part of the new 410 km N2 Wild Coast Road (N2WCR) between East London and Port Edward being constructed by the South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL). The N2WCR is part of government’s Strategic Integrated Projects initiative, which aims to catalyse economic growth in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.
“Our aim is not just to build an iconic bridge structure to the highest quality. We are also here to create a positive impact locally and to help change lives,” said Matlala.
He stressed that this approach begins by recognising that the company is a temporary guest in the community and, therefore, needs to show the necessary respect in how it operates. This has meant constant communication about the procurement process and construction plans more generally.
“For instance, it was important for us to understand the technical capacity of the local market, so that we could engage the right skills, resources and services from the area. We have also invested considerable resources in training, guidance, coaching and mentorship for SMMEs that we engage.”
To effect SANRAL’s requirements to utilise and nurture small businesses from the project area a dedicated department has been created by the JV on the project to work with local SMMEs and assist in various ways.