With road infrastructure being prioritised in South Africa’s economic recovery plan in a post-COVID environment, the upgrade of the Thembalethu Bridge in George, bodes well for the Southern Cape economy. This project is a collaborative venture between SANRAL and the George Local Municipality, with the National Department of Transport having provided R82,127 million towards the funding of the project. SANRAL is the Implementing Agent working closely with the George Municipality.
The total construction period is between 24 and 30 months, which should create project participation opportunities for SMMEs as well as both direct and indirect jobs for the local community.
The scope of works involves the widening of the Thembalethu Bridge across the N2 from a single carriageway to accommodate two lanes in each direction, with additional turning lanes as well as extra space for pedestrians and cyclists.
“A new bridge will be constructed on the Western side. Once completed, the existing bridge will be raised and stitched to the new bridge, to ensure that the upgraded structure complies with the minimum bridge clearance of 5.2 metres,” explained Petronella Theron, SANRAL Project Manager.
Detailed design works is currently being finalised and the tender for a contractor will be out by June 2021. Taking the procurement processes into account, the contractor should be appointed by November 2021.
All SANRAL projects are guided by a 14-point plan that sets the tone for project liaison, sub-contracting and labour sourcing, as well as a commitment to its transformation policy that seeks to prioritise economic empowerment of black businesses in South Africa.
“With 30% of the project value being committed to targeted enterprises for subcontracting, there are huge opportunities for start-ups and emerging SMMEs to benefit from project participation,” said Thembinkosi Mosobela, SANRAL Stakeholder Coordinator in the Western Region.
A process of engagement with relevant stakeholders, is already underway and SANRAL, together with the George Local Municipality will explore opportunities to provide training and development of SMMEs in the road construction sector, to ensure that they are equipped, capacitated and ready to tender for work packages that become available on this project.
“These information-sharing and training sessions are of cardinal importance to ensure we broaden the scope of economic opportunities to businesses in the surrounding communities. Our transformation objectives are particularly aligned to facilitate participation of persons with disabilities, women-owned businesses as well as youth-owned operations,” continued Mosobela.