Msikaba Bridge opens to retender

On completion, SANRAL’s spectacular Msikaba Bridge in the Eastern Cape will be the longest cable-stayed suspension bridge in South Africa.

The 580m Msikaba Bridge will cross the 195m deep Msikaba River gorge and will be the longest cable-stayed suspension bridge in South Africa. It will be the second longest in Africa after the 680m Maputo-Catembe Bridge that is currently under construction in Mozambique.

Expected to become an important tourist attraction, the tender process for the Msikaba Bridge – part of the N2 Wild Coast Road project – has been reopened.

The bridge, 23km east of Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape, forms part of the backbone of the greenfields portion of the N2 Wild Coast Road project.

The South African National Roads Agency (SOC) Limited (SANRAL) project is a national priority, one of government’s 18 strategic integrated projects (SIPs). SIPs, overseen by the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission, are national projects aimed at supporting economic development service delivery in the poorest provinces.

“The initial tender for the Msikaba Bridge was cancelled as no acceptable tenders were received in the original tender process,” explained SANRAL’s general communications manager, Vusi Mona. “The retendering process is now open and we are confident that this round of tendering will be successful,” he added.

Tenders for the approximately R1.7-billion bridge project close in March 2018 and work on the bridge is expected to begin in the second half of 2018. Construction is expected to take about 33 months.

SMME participation a priority

Mona said that all firms or consortiums who are able to meet the stringent technical functionality requirements are invited to tender. The technical functional requirements include relevant company experience in the construction of major bridges – particularly cable stay bridges, key staff members with the necessary experience and expertise, and the financial stability to undertake a R1.7-billion project over a three year period, he said.

A minimum goal of 30% small, medium and micro enterprises participation has been set for the project, and only firms or entities such as joint ventures with a broad-based black economic empowerment scorecard of level 4 or higher will be eligible to tender.

The bridge

The 580m Msikaba Bridge will cross the 195m deep Msikaba River gorge and will be the longest cable-stayed suspension bridge in South Africa. It will be the second longest in Africa after the 680m Maputo-Catembe Bridge that is currently under construction in Mozambique.

Together with the Mtentu Bridge, the Msikaba Bridge will play an essential role in improving travel time, connecting previously divided communities in the region and opening up opportunities for business and community-based tourism for the Wild Coast.

“By improving the travel time between Durban and East London by up to three hours for heavy freight, and by providing a high mobility route through an area that is extremely isolated and underserved by road infrastructure, the route will have significant social and economic benefits and will act as a catalyst for local and regional development,” Mona said.

Job creation

Direct job creation on the N2 Wild Coast Road greenfields projects has been estimated to reach 1.8 million man-days, or 8 000 full time equivalent jobs, over the construction period of four to five years.

“More than R400-million will be allocated to wages for unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled workers employed directly on the N2 Wild Coast Road project, and a further R1.5-billion is destined for local SMMEs comprising of local contractors and local suppliers of goods and services to the road and bridge construction projects,” said Mona.

Construction of the R1.634-billion Mtentu Bridge, which was awarded to the Aveng Strabag Joint Venture in July 2017, is set to start in early January 2018 and is scheduled to take approximately 40 months.

“As the Msikaba Bridge will have a construction period that is approximately seven months shorter than the nearby Mtentu Bridge, the retender of the Msikaba Bridge will not affect the overall completion date of the N2 Wild Coast Road as the two bridges will be completed within a few months of each other,” Mona noted.

Author

Ray Maota

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