Mtentu bridge project in Eastern Cape set to continue

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The multi-billion rand Mtentu bridge project in the Winnie Madikizela municipality in Eastern Cape is set to continue. This bridge is one of two mega-bridge projects that is part of the N2 Wild Coast road.

Work on the bridge stalled in 2016 due to community unrest. The R4.5 billion project was recently awarded to the China Communications Construction Company as a joint venture with MECSA.

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula introduced the new company to the community, saying 30% has been allocated to benefit local businesses and the community at large.

It will be the highest bridge in the Southern Hemisphere when complete but getting it off the ground has been tricky.

Residents protested against the project, saying they are being excluded. It is different now with 30 % allocated to local entrepreneurs.

Wildcoast Business Chamber Chairman, Ayanda Notshweleka says, “We are very happy with the relaunch of the project. We are very excited and we are looking forward to participating in the development of this project. There will be job opportunities. We are expecting local businesses, and local communities to be afforded an opportunity. We are very happy with the decision of the Sanral board and the government because this is a greenfield area. There’s a need for development.”

The focus will also be on local procurement despite the tender going to the CCCC/MECSA joint venture.

Executive Chair, CCCC MECSA Charles Nonkonyana says, “We’ve agreed with CCCC that, in terms of procurement, everything that is going to be procured will be procured in South Africa. We will make sure that the labour that the minister was talking about inside, all the labour will be coming from local communities and we’ve done in Msikaba.”

It is projected that thousands of jobs will be created as part of this 54-month project. But the relaunch comes with a warning.

“Amakhosi, they will guard this project with their lives. Abantu balapha emampondweni, they will benefit. They know how important this project is. But over and above that, the government will exert its authority. Nobody will stop this project. If we have to bring soldiers here, we will bring them,” says Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula.

Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane adds, “We’re really trying to start from where we left it off. It’s very disappointing that government lost money because of the generation that we had to go through. We have learnt a lesson and definitely we are not going to go back to that. This is meant to change people’s lives. This is a catalytic project. It is meant to change the socio-economic outlook of our province. It’s going to help us to tame this wild coast because we can’t continue with the wild. It must be tamed but in a sustainable way.”

The R1.2 billion rehabilitation of the R56 from Matatiele to the border of KwaZulu-Natal was also announced in the town.