Tenders invited for R3,5b Wild Coast bridges

Access to tourist destinations like Mkambati Nature Reserve might be improved by the construction of N2 Wild Coast toll road.

THE South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) has started the tender process for the construction of two massive, multi-billion rand bridges along the intended N2 Wild Coast toll road, one of which will be the highest bridge in the southern hemisphere.

This is in spite of ongoing controversy and pending legal action over the toll road proposal.

According to Sanral’s southern region manager, Mbulelo Peterson, the pre-qualification applications from interested construction firms would close next week. The final tender processes would start in June.

Due to the size and complexity of the two bridges the tender process will not be concluded before November 2016. Construction is only likely to start in 2017, – Mbulelo Peterson.

The combined cost of the two bridges would be R3,5 billion. The first, over the Msikaba River, would consist of a cable-stayed 580m-long structure spanning a deep gorge. The Mtentu River bridge, about 12km north of Msikaba River, was expected to be a concrete structure approximately 1,130m long. It would comprise a 260m main span constructed as a balanced cantilever with main piers approximately 160m high, plus approach viaducts constructed using incremental launching methods.

The Msikaba Bridge would be higher than the famous Bloukrantz Bridge, making it the highest bridge in Africa and the southern hemisphere.The main span of the Msikaba Bridge would be the longest main span in Africa and the southern hemisphere. Mr Peterson said, however, that other southern hemisphere and African bridges would have longer total spans.

The proposal to build the toll road, a 560km route between Durban and East London, about 80 percent of which would follow the existing R61, was first put forward more than 10 years ago. It has attracted endless controversy, including objections from the green lobby as the 90km greenfields section would be constructed through an environmentally sensitive area.

KwaZulu-Natal road users have objected to funding the project through increased tolling in their province. Bizana residents fear being displaced. There has also been strong opposition to the project from members of the Amadiba Crisis Committee who claim the road project is linked to the Xolobeni dune mining proposal, to which they object.

After many legal battles, the project received the go-ahead from the Department of Environmental Affairs in 2010, but this decision has resulted in many legal challenges.

Asked if pending legal action would affect the tender process, Mr Peterson said it was unlikely.

“There were two legal cases brought against the positive Record of Decision. The first, brought by various KwaZulu-Natal business associations, was withdrawn after Sanral excluded the KwaZulu-Natal portion of the original proposed project, between the Mtamvuna River to the Isipingo interchange, from the overall N2 Wild Coast Project.

“The second appeal was brought by various parties from the Amadiba tribal area who opposed the road as part of their action against the proposed dune mining. The Amadiba Tribal Authority, on behalf of themselves and the communities of Baleni, Sigidi and Mdatya, whom they legally represent, withdrew as applicants in the current court proceedings in December last year. Sanral is still engaging the courts regarding the status of the single remaining applicant, and we believe that the courts will now dismiss the case,” Mr Peterson explained.

He assured KwaZulu-Natal road users they would not fund the section of the road in the Eastern Cape through tolling. Sanral applied a strict and fair user-pay principle and did not cross-subsidise any toll road operation with toll money collected from other areas or provinces, he said.

While Sanral has always said the toll road would bring much-needed development to the impoverished Eastern Cape, toll road opponents have argued that the road would only encourage people to speed through the area and that improved roads to core tourism areas on the Wild Coast would be a better option.

Mr Peterson described the toll road as a catalyst for local development. bringing direct and indirect business opportunities and encouraging the formation of small, medium and micro enterprises.

Job creation would have a positive impact on local economies for Eastern Cape towns.

There would also be major tourism opportunities and the new route would mean vastly improved access for agriculture and other local economic activities.

Regarding project related job creation, Mr Peterson added that, as part of the Greenfields portion of the project, Sanral would ensure local enterprises and labour participation in the various construction projects.

HAVE YOUR SAY

Like our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter and Instagram

For news straight to your phone, add us on BBM 58F3D7A7 or WhatsApp 082 421 6033

  AUTHOR
Judi Davis
Reporter

Latest News

COMMENTS

Top
Recommended Story x
Sunny start for shoreline challenge