SANRAL will over the next three years undertake more than 150 road construction projects in the Eastern Cape with at least 37 of those located in the O.R. Tambo District Municipality. These projects are expected to create over 8000 jobs and see approximately R2.8 billion flow to SMMEs, the bulk of whom will be from the O.R. Tambo and Alfred Nzo Districts.
An economic lifeline of this magnitude has the potential to significantly change the lives of the citizens in this district, and for this reason, SANRAL today facilitated a stakeholder engagement session with local stakeholders in the district including Traditional Leadership, SMMEs, provincial and local government, business and civil society at large.
Two of the major conventional road construction projects in the Eastern Cape, the Mtentu and Msikaba Bridges, are in the O.R. Tambo District Municipality. The Mtentu Bridge project involves the construction of a 1342m reinforced concrete viaduct bridge over the Mtentu River gorge, while the Msikaba Bridge involves the construction of a 580m span Cable Stay Bridge over the Msikaba River gorge. These bridges form the backbone of the greenfield portion of the N2 Wild Coast Toll Road (N2WCTR) project – one of government’s 18 Strategic Integrated Projects. Once completed the new shorter, flatter and faster N2WCTR will cut travelling time between Mthatha and Durban by between 1,5 and 3 hours resulting in a time-cost saving of approx. R1,5 billion per annum for road users. In addition to improving logistics and trade between the Eastern Cape and KZN the new route will also stimulate local economic development for the Pondoland area, particularly in tourism.
Another crucial infrastructure improvement project is the upgrade of the N2 Section 18 from Viedgesville to Mthatha, from a single carriageway to a dual carriageway. This will significantly increase the existing traffic capacity, improve mobility, reduce congestion and improve road safety as well as overall road user experience.
The construction of bridges, intersection widenings and livestock underpasses on the R61 Section 8, from Libode East to Mngazi is also a key upgrade project. This entails the construction of 4 new bridges, 9 underpass structures and the upgrade of 9 intersections.
SANRAL Stakeholder Relations Manager Siphiwo Mxhosa said, “We recognise the critical role SANRAL plays in the construction and related industries, and we are mindful of the impact the construction industry and its procurement have on millions of people across South Africa, not just in mainstream locations, but in the very heart of rural South Africa. As such, we accept the responsibility consequent to the above, especially the need to use our procurement to maximise the participation of emerging and small black contractors, professionals, and suppliers in all SANRAL commissioned projects.”
All unskilled labour, and as far as possible skilled and semi-skilled labour will be sourced locally, as will local SMME contractors and suppliers of goods and services needed to meet the required contractor participation goals on SANRAL projects.
To ensure that there is as much social and economic inclusion for the people of O.R. Tambo District to benefit from these opportunities, SANRAL’s projects are guided by a commitment to its Transformation Policy that seeks to advance black business, SMME development, a 14-point plan that prioritises community engagement and an overall strategy that is aligned to the government’s National Development Plan.
SANRAL Southern Region Manager Simon Peterson said, “We understand that before we build roads as economic arteries in our communities, we have a responsibility to make sure people are the at the forefront of our development plans and we are particularly driven to break down barriers of entry for broad-based participation by Black South Africans. We do however need a concerted commitment from all our stakeholders to cooperate within the parameters of the structures that are put in place, specifically the composition of Project Liaison Committees (PLCs). While not every entity can serve on the PLC, this body is mandated to act in the interest of all stakeholders”.
SANRAL remains committed to finance, improve, manage, and maintain South Africa’s expanding national road network and we want to ensure we leave behind legacies of economic empowerment in communities, that will allow us to improve the lives of our people, one kilometre at a time.