The South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) has confirmed that construction of the R81 national road from Munnik to Ga-Sekgopo in Limpopo is set for completion by the end of January 2022.
Sanral says the R152 million construction contract started in August 2019 with an initial completion date of February 2021. But due to several disruptions and tropical storm Eloise that landed in South Africa in early January, the project duration had to be extended.
“Once this section of the R81 has been completed, the road will contribute to facilitating improved mobility, and the safe movement of goods and services all the way from Polokwane to Giyani in the Limpopo province,” Sanral project manager for the Northern region, Hannes van der Merwe, said.
“Traffic flow will improve significantly given the wider road surface and enhanced safety features for both vehicles and pedestrians in the Ga-Sekgopo village.
“The R81 serves as an alternative to the R71 to Tzaneen and Phalaborwa with lower road gradients, which [reduces] travel times and vehicle operating costs despite being a longer route than the R71.”
According to Sanral, the project consists of the construction of a compulsory heavy vehicle stop at the top of the mountain pass (which will allow heavy vehicles to engage low gear before commencing the downhill descent); the construction of wider formal intersections with turning lanes, walkways and public transport laybys; and the installation of new and additional road signs and paintings of road markings to improve the safety of both vehicles and pedestrians.
“Two bridges are also included in the contract. Both bridges are road-over-river bridges. The one bridge is widened to accommodate the wider road lanes and to provide for pedestrian sidewalks on both sides of the bridge. The second bridge was reconstructed to a higher level and to increase the width of the bridge to be the same as the other bridge. The height of the bridge was increased to facilitate a bigger flood capacity of the bridge,” the agency added in its statement.
Van der Merwe said the biggest benefit is the much-improved pedestrian safety that the contract will implement, as well as the employment of local labour during construction activities.
He added that the main contractor, Lonerock Construction, has appointed up to 20 small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) to work on the project as subcontractors.
“The number of community members employed since the beginning of the project is 164. The project also includes accredited NQF level three and four training opportunities, and up to 95 local community members [have] attended the training courses,” said Van der Merwe.
“The training included entrepreneurial skills, calculating construction quantities, tendering for construction projects and training on installing stormwater gabion baskets on a construction site.”-
Sanral’s Northern region manager Progress Hlahla said: “Sanral recognises that it can help to build a capable and developmental state and drive economic development through the provision and maintenance of critical infrastructure.
“The improvement of R81 national road from Munnik to Ga-Sekgopo showcases how this is coming to life. Local businesses and communities are accessing employment and training opportunities through this project, as well as opportunities to tender for sub-contracting.”
Palesa Mofokeng is a Moneyweb intern.