Construction has started on the mega Mtentu Bridge.

According to road agency Sanral, the China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) and MECSA Construction joint venture (CCCC MECSA JV) will build the bridge with an estimated budget of R4.05 billion.

Building the bridge is expected to take 50 months and should be completed by the end of 2027, it said.

Construction on the project follows a four-month mobilisation period, which concluded last Friday, 4 August.

“During the mobilisation period, Sanral engaged with stakeholders of both the Northern and Southern banks of the Mtentu Bridge. Local stakeholders have received news of the re-awarding of the contract with excitement and look forward to work resuming following delays caused by the project stoppage in October 2018,” said Mbulelo Peterson, Sanral Southern Regional Manager.

The Mtentu Bridge is set to be the highest bridge in Africa, with a maximum height of roughly 223 metres.

It will also be one of the longest main-span balanced cantilever bridges in the world, with a main span of 260 metres.

The Mtentu Bridge

Construction of the site offices will start this week, whilst several general labourers will undergo medicals and safety instructions and start clearing the site.

The construction of boreholes will begin on 15 August, whilst the installation of security measures and the relocation of affected households will start on 1 September.

The bridge forms part of Sanral’s N2 Wild Cost Road (N2WCR) programme, which includes a 410km stretch of road from East London to the Mtamvuna River on the border of the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

The programme has received support from the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission (PICC) and forms part of the government’s 18 Strategic Infrastructure Projects (SIPS).

The project also has a local labour Contract Participation Goal (CPG) of 4%, which will see R141 million (excl. VAT) being paid to local labour and create a minimum of 1,080 jobs for skilled and unskilled workers.

“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,” Peterson added.

Furthermore, Sanral said that the new Mtentu tender has been expanded from the original terminated contract to include upgrades to an 18km provincial road which will link the future Mkhambati Interchange to the Flagstaff-Holy Cross road.

This will provide a direct link between the future N2 and the town of Flagstaff.

“The Project Liaison Committee (PLC) that will oversee the smooth implementation of the project and safeguard 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 and to ensure that it benefits the intended beneficiaries,” Peterson said.