South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) through the organization’s engineering executive Louw Kannemeyer said that Mtentu bridge whose construction came to a standstill in early February will resume on an unknown date.
The Aveng Strabag joint venture (ASJV), which clinched the contract in 2017 and was to deliver it in May 2021, terminated the US $115.5m bridge contract located in the Eastern Cape claiming that it had been unable to work on the project site since October last year due to continued violent protests related to job and contract demands made against Sanral by locals.
However Sanral believes that the situation had been stabilized, following a community level intervention, for the contractor to resume work.
SANRAL to seek a new contractor
As of now Sanral and ASJV are locked in a legal process related to project guarantees. “We will have to see how the legal process unfolds before we can decide the way forward,” says Kannemeyer. “The legal process will determine the mechanism used to appoint a new contractor for the Mtentu Bridge.”
Kannemeyer believes that other international firms will be willing to travel to the Wild Coast to build the structure although he also acknowledges that building the Mtentu Bridge is not an easy task.
The twin support towers of the bridge will be higher than Carlton Centre, currently Africa’s tallest building. The Towers of the bridge are approximated between 55 and 60 storeys high, with construction teams then building the bridge deck from these towers. Considering the height of the towers, as well as the fact that the bridge crosses a gorge, dealing with high winds may prove particularly challenging.
Sanral believes the complexity of the project will result in a new, extended tender period of at least five months. To compile a new tender, go through the tender process, adjudicate, award, obtain the necessary labour permits, mobilize and establish on site, is likely to take at least 12 months.
Legal issues may extend this period even further.