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Mega Mtentu Bridge construction to start in March

Home Infrastructure Construction & Civils Mega Mtentu Bridge construction to start in March

IN four months, work will start on what is expected to be Africa’s tallest bridge, the Mtentu Bridge, the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) announced in a media release issued on November 29.

Earlier this month Sanral awarded the tender to the Chinese Communications Construction Company (CCCC)-MECSA joint venture, after it was cancelled in May and re-advertised for fresh bidding. Construction is expected to start in March 2023.

The Mtentu Bridge is part of the N2 Wild Coast Toll Road (N2WCTR), Sanral’s flagship project in the Eastern Cape. The bridge will run across the Mtentu River in Mbizana in the Winnie Madikizela-Mandela Municipality.

Introducing the contractor awarded the contract to build the bridge, at an event on Monday, national Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula and officials from Sanral spelt out to surrounding communities how more than R1.8 billion of the total R4.05 billion cost had been ring-fenced for local SMMEs.

The project is expected to generate work equivalent to 2 500 full-time jobs and over R1.8 billion is expected to be spent on targeted local enterprises. Sanral explains that this will be derived from subcontracting to be undertaken by the main contractor on the bridge structure, as well as the construction of associated roads.

“Three local community access roads will be built as labour, enhanced training programmes, and the local provincial gravel road network leading from the R61 will be improved and maintained in order to allow access to the site by the many vehicles and heavy freight required for construction,” the minister said.

Minister Mbalula was accompanied by Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana and Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane.

Minister Mbalula said residents would benefit from jobs and skills transfer through the project. He said about R141 million would be paid in salaries to local labour and SMMEs will benefit to the tune of about R1.8 billion.

He said in addition to economic benefits, the Mtentu Bridge would also bring communities together. “We appreciate communities for their commitment and willingness to work with government. I want to encourage all communities of the Wild Coast to embrace the opportunities that come with government’s major infrastructure projects,” Mbalula added.

He said: “It prides me that we are gathered after having traversed a long journey to the reinstating of a contractor to this site.”

Premier Mabuyane urged communities to support the development which “is meant to change people’s lives and the socioeconomic conditions of our province”.

The premier said there would be many more opportunities in tourism and in the oceans’ economy once the bridge was built.

The N2WCR project comprises a 410 km route running from the Gonubie Interchange in East London to the Mtamvuna River on the border of the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, near Port Edward.

The N2WCR is strategically positioned on the N2 route which connects four provinces: Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga – running through the cities of Cape Town, George, Port Elizabeth, East London, Mthatha, Durban and Ermelo.

Minister Mbalula said the entire N2WCR project would create approximately 8 000 direct full-time jobs, with a wage bill of around R750 million and between 21 000 and 28 000 indirect jobs.

Mtentu is the second mega-bridge on the N2WCR plan and, together with the Msikaba Bridge, forms part of the 112 km of new highway between Port St Johns and Port Edward.
Once complete, about seven interchanges and various access roads will ensure a faster and safer travel experience for local and international tourists around the Wild Coast.

Minister Mbalula said he was considering a request from the Eastern Cape provincial government for the Mtentu Bridge to be named after local political legend, Khumani Anderson Ganyile.

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