A bridge to the future for Eastern Cape communities

The Mtentu River bridge just outside Xolobeni.

Construction of the new bridge across the Mtentu Gorge on the Wild Coast will start in November, an initiative that will contribute to economic growth along South Africa’s eastern seaboard.

The N2 Wild Coast Road is being constructed as a national priority to improve the mobility of communities in the Eastern Cape and facilitate the movement of people, goods and services. The road, which includes two mega-bridges at the Mtentu and Msikaba gorges, is a national priority and is one of the 18 Strategic Integrated Projects designed to support economic development and improve service delivery in poorer provinces.

SANRAL awarded the tender for the 1.1km bridge to the Aveng Strabag Joint Venture. When completed the bridge will be one of the longest main span balanced cantilever bridges in the world.

Vusi Mona, SANRAL’s communication manager, says the Wild Coast Road “will be a growth engine for the Eastern Cape, both during, and post, construction.” It will cut down on travel time between Durban and East London, improve the safe movement of freight and connect communities that have been marginalised through apartheid planning to government services and commercial activities.

“The route will bring significant social and economic benefits to the area and act as a catalyst for local and regional development,” says Mona.

The N2WC road project will be a major job creator in an area with a very high unemployment rate. More than R400 million will be allocated to wages for unskilled and semi-skilled workers employed directly on the project and a further R1.5 billion will go towards local enterprises, contractors and suppliers of goods and services.

SANRAL’s R120-million community development and SMME training programme is providing local labour and local SMMEs with the necessary skills to optimally participate in the N2 Wild Coast Road project, says Mona.