Thembalethu Bridge in George bridges the divide

Final touches are being added to the newly upgraded Thembalethu Bridge over the N2 in George. SANRAL, in collaboration with George Municipality, has been working for almost two years to widen the old bridge to create two lanes in each direction, with cycle paths and pedestrian walkways on both sides of the bridge

Former Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga visited the project in April, and said:

“The Thembalethu Bridge is a prime example of the work we are doing to improve road infrastructure on our national road network which is positively impacting communities. In this case it impacts a community in George which, because of apartheid spatial planning, had great difficulty in accessing the main town on the other side of the N2.

“SANRAL is also busy with a number of other projects on the Garden Route which are equally important for tourism. Our national roads are important in connecting communities, towns, cities, provinces and countries. Tourists do not want to visit places where they struggle to travel from one destination to another. Good roads lead to good local economies, which translates into jobs and a better life for all.”

Minister Chikunga said that by addressing traffic congestion and prioritising pedestrian safety, especially for school children, the Thembalethu Bridge project demonstrated SANRAL’s focus on improving infrastructure for the benefit of local communities.

“The work on Thembalethu Bridge is nothing short of engineering excellence. The SANRAL engineers explained to me that a new bridge was built alongside the old bridge, and that the existing bridge is now being lifted to accommodate trucks with a load at a maximum height of 5.2 metres. If you are not an engineer, you can never imagine this happening, but our South African engineers are able to do it, and we are extremely proud of that.”

Project Manager Petronella Theron explained that pedestrians were a priority on this project, as many Thembalethu residents commute on foot. “We have prioritised road safety education, working with Mzoxolo Primary School and the community to ensure pedestrians use the pedestrian walkways in order to navigate their journeys safely,” she said.

The bridge also addresses the challenge of significantly increased vehicular traffic in and out of Thembalethu.

“SANRAL is a state-owned entity, it’s our implementing agency when it comes to national roads in South Africa, and this is but one example of what it is capable of. The Department of Transport, through SANRAL, has demonstrated its commitment to the Western Cape and its economic growth, and aims to commission projects addressing the escalating demands of the growing developments along the Garden Route,” Chikunga added.

Key statistics

  • The project has to date generated 92 full-time equivalent jobs at a cost of R16 million
  • R1 million was spent on training 144 local persons
  • 22 local subcontractors participated in the project, to the tune of R31 million