South African authorities have announced construction on the Mtentu Bridge has begun.
The R4.05 billion cantilever bridge will span the Mtentu River in the Eastern Cape’s Winnie Madikizela-Mandela municipality and, with an estimated height of 223 metres, will be the tallest on the African continent.
Conceived by Danish architecture house, Dissing and Weitling, the Mtentu Bridge was designed to have minimal impact on the local ecosystem.
A joint venture between China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) and Johannesburg-based MECSA Construction will be responsible for the construction of the megaproject.
The Mtentu Bridge promises to be the highest bridge of its kind in Africa, the apex of its deck standing 223 metres off the bottom of the valley floor. The bridge’s deck is 22.3 metres wide and includes pedestrian walkways on either side.
It forms part of the South African National Roads Agency’s (SANRAL) N2 Wild Coast Road programme, a 410-kilometre roadway that joins East London to the Mtamvuna River near KwaZulu-Natal.
SANRAL hopes the new route will significantly improve upon the existing road network in the picturesque Pondoland region.
Construction on the bridge section alone will create at least 1 000 jobs and last for roughly 50 months, concluding sometime near 2027, according to SANRAL.
While the number of workers on-site may vary depending on the stage of the build, an average of 360 jobs indirectly related to the bridge per month will be created, 300 of them being locally sourced.
The Mtentu Bridge project includes a local labour contract participation goal of 4 per cent, which will see R141 million paid directly to at least 1 018 workers for the build.
Construction commenced on August 15 when the first boreholes were sunk. According to Business Tech, the installation of security systems, medical screening of labourers, and the relocation of affected homes will begin in early September 2023.
Local stakeholders living on either side of the bridge’s span were pleased that the project had received the green light, said Mbulelo Peterson, SANRAL’s Southern Regional Manager.
Included in the scope of the project are upgrades to the N2 motorway between Mthata and East London and improvements on the R61 between Mthata and Ndwalane.
Once completed, SANRAL says the N2 will establish a flatter, faster and safer link between Durban and the industrial hubs of Port Elizabeth and East London.