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Msikaba bridge project builds infrastructure 

THE localised upliftment of local road infrastructure connected to the Msikaba bridge Project is an example of how infrastructure can be a catalyst for community transformation.

Bridging Gaps 

Laurence Savage, Project Director for the Concor Moto-Engil Joint Venture (CMEJV) – the main contractor – says the primary intention behind this project was to provide secondary access routes to and from the Msikaba Bridge for the CMEJV. While this was a pivotal logistical move for the construction phase, it bore more profound implications, he says.

“Firstly, these routes provide seamless access for the local communities, eliminating previous barriers and promoting integration. Secondly, they pave the way for potential economic upliftment. With enhanced connectivity, sectors like tourism now stand to gain immensely, opening the region to new possibilities.”

Scope and Span

The upliftment projects were divided between the North Bank and South Bank of the Msikaba Bridge Project, embracing a wide spectrum of road types. From the rehabilitation of surfaced roads on the R61 to re-graveling existing sandy terrains, the need for these improvements was apparent. Beyond the physical work, the incorporation of stormwater facilities in multiple areas denotes meticulous planning.

However, Savage says, the real triumph lies in the project’s socio-economic impact. “Over 40 local subcontractors were involved, illustrating an unwavering commitment to integrating local expertise and manpower.”

A commendable effort by SANRAL

The South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) deserves recognition according to Savage who says the involvement of SANRAL and the CMEJV brought hope to a place where economic activity has been bleak. “SANRAL has not just driven the development of roads but have also actively contributed to job creation in a region that needs it.”

Key Achievements

The R61 stretch from Port St Johns, passing through Lusikisiki and Flagstaff to the Bazana turnoff, spanning nearly 100 km, has seen transformational change. From immediate pothole repairs to complete surface replacements in sections, the road has been revamped from a hazardous path to a user-friendly roadway.

Between Lusikisiki and the Msikaba Bridge, a combination of re-graveling and innovative usage of geo-cell concrete roads has made travel safer. Taxi routes that were previously inaccessible in unfavourable weather conditions are now approachable.

Similar advancements can be observed on the Msikaba Bridge’s North bank, where re-graveling, geo-cell installations and stormwater systems have been integrated to better serve the rural communities.

Savage says an environment-friendly approach was adopted with bush clearing activities, again involving local SMMEs, further pushing the agenda of job creation.

“It is significant that through these projects over 400 jobs have been generated, especially in the geo-cell projects domain. Furthermore, the CMEJV’s approach to training, mentoring and uplifting SMMEs is commendable,” he says. “This initiative not only imparts technical skills but also fosters a culture of quality, financial responsibility and adept project management.”

The Msikaba Bridge Project and its ancillary developments are still a work in progress. Over the past two years, the region has seen infrastructure development and the laying down of a foundation for a more connected future.

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