Eastern Cape, 07 May 2018: Positive socio-economic effects anticipated from the South African National Roads Agency SOC Ltd’s (SANRAL) N2 Wild Coast Road (N2WCR) are beginning to materialise. This is especially the case for black-owned construction company, Masakhane Project Managers (Masakhane), who have recently been appointed as one of the suppliers for a major project in the second phase of the greenfields portion of the N2WCR project.
After effectively winning a tough competition between four potential sources, Masakhane has been appointed as the supplier of aggregate for the Mtentu Bridge construction, a contract estimated at R54 million. They will be responsible for mining and processing rock from their dolorite quarry at Dudumeni Village in Ward 8 of Mbizana Local Municipality under Ntlenzi A/A, which is between Bizana and Flagstaff. All the aggregate for the Mtentu bridge piers and deck will be sourced from this single quarry to ensure a consistent quality and appearance of the concrete.
Situated in a remote location across a deep gorge of Mtentu river which is a boundary between the rural Municipalities of Mbizana and Inqguza Hill, the Mtentu Bridge forms an essential component of the greenfields section of the N2WC route that is set to provide road users with an 85 km shorter route and will deliver travel time savings of up to three hours compared to the current N2 route.
Once completed the 1,1km long and 223m high Mtentu Bridge will be the highest bridge in Africa and the Southern Hemisphere.
Masakhane has been subcontracted by main contractors of the bridge, Aveng Strabag Joint Venture (JV), comprised of partners Aveng Grinaker-LTA, a major South African-based construction company and Strabag, a leading construction company in Europe with extensive experience in major balanced cantilever methodology bridge construction.
Managing Director and Founder of Masakhane, Mr Ayanda Notshweleka, was born and raised in Flagstaff. His experience in the construction industry spans over a decade having worked for companies including Murray and Roberts, WBHO and Ugu Municipality. As a Quantity Surveyor, he founded Masakhane Project Managers, which deals with construction, project management, civil and building, property development, cost consulting and quarry mining, in 2004.
Speaking on the boost his company stands to leverage from the 40-month aggregate supply contract, Mr Notshweleka said he currently utilises hired equipment for his projects but that a contract of this magnitude enables him, as a black quarry miner, to approach banks for financing to purchase plant equipment, which can cost anything from R30 million up.
“Quarry mining is a white dominant sector in the Alfred Nzo and OR Tambo region. Initiatives such as this by SANRAL to support black quarry mining companies contribute largely to transformation of the industry,” said Notshweleka.
Approximately 45 direct job opportunities are expected to be created through the Masakhane sub-contract. Fifteen locals will be appointed for operations at the quarry.
“Masakhane has subcontracted transportation of the material from the quarry to the bridge site to three local trucking cooperatives from Bizana, Flagstaff and Lusikisiki. Each trucking cooperative will supply five trucks, with each to be operated by two people, a driver and assistant, working out to 30 additional job opportunities.
“We also plan to launch a training programme through a local driving school where 15 young women from neighbouring villages of Khanyayo, KwaMadiba and Dudumeni will obtain learners and drivers licences,” Notshweleka said.
The aim is to appoint these women as trainee drivers with the respective trucking associations upon completion of the training programme.
Notshweleka added that locals have largely been subjected to steep prices of building materials as a result of transport costs from quarries outside the region. “One other spin-off this project presents is that local contractors and the community at large will be able to access building materials at more affordable rates as the high cost of transportation will be done away with when materials are sourced locally.”
SANRAL spokesperson Vusi Mona further added that, “SANRAL will require several additional local quarries to be expanded or established to supply the quite considerable amount of aggregate and crushed rock material required for the construction of the rest of the 9 major bridges and 110km of road making up the greenfields section of the future N2 Wild Coast Road. The Mtentu bridge aggregate contract is therefore only the first of many similar contracts for local quarry owners that will be realised over the next few years”
The Mtentu Bridge site is located on the border between Mbizana Local Municipality and Ingquza Hill Municipality, both 98% rural areas comprising the towns of Bizana, Lusikisiki and Flagstaff, and numerous villages. Poverty is highly prevalent in the area with the unemployment rate at 43.6% for the 282 000 Mbizana populace and at 51.6% for the Ingquza Hill population of 278 000. Key economic drivers which include agriculture, tourism, mining and the ocean economy are said to be underdeveloped.
The Masakhane offices are located in Seaview (ward 8), Mzamba, a village just over 20 kilometres from Bizana towards Port Edward.
Work on the construction of the Mtentu Bridge started in January. It will continue over a period of 40 months and is expected to be completed by May 2021.
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