South Africa’s R1.6 billion mega-bridge is 10 months behind schedule – and needs foreign help

The South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) is now looking at international partners to help complete the Mtentu bridge on South Africa’s Wild Coast.

Speaking to TimesLive, Sanral spokesperson Vusi Mona said that the bridge’s construction was suspended due to community protests in late October 2018, ultimately leading to tender holder Aveng Strabag Joint Venture (ASJV) terminating its contract in February this year.

He added that almost ten months of the 40-month contractual period had passed, but the joint venture was already 176 working days (eight months) behind on meeting the contractual completion date.

Mona said that in moving the project forward with a new partner, only teams that have international experts on board will be considered.

“Given the size and complexity of the bridge, no South African firm(s) can be considered by themselves, and any new consortium or joint venture will need to include an international partner with the appropriate experience and expertise,” said Mona.

Work on the R1.63 billion Mtentu bridge began in November 2017 and it was originally expected to be completed in 2020/21, with construction lasting for a period of 40 months.

As the first of its magnitude in South Africa, the Mtentu bridge will be one of the longest main span balanced cantilever bridges in the world.

It is expected to reach heights of approximately 220m and will span 1.1km.

In addition to being a new national landmark, the N2 Wild Coast road project was expected to be a major job creator in an area with an extremely high unemployment rate.

Sanral’s direct job creation forecast is 1.8 million man-days or 8,000 Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) jobs over the construction period of four to five years.

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South Africa’s R1.6 billion mega-bridge is 10 months behind schedule – and needs foreign help