The South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL) has started with the process of rolling out two major road infrastructure projects for Mpumalanga province in 2022.Both projects are still at the design stage, which the engineers will finalise soon. The roads agency has assigned a dedicated team of engineers and project managers to ensure the successful design and delivery of key road infrastructure projects to unlock economic growth. This is critical, especially for a province well known for its tourism. According to Madoda Mthembu, SANRAL Operations and Maintenance Manager in the Northern Region, roads are the arteries that drive the economy. They connect people to places and business opportunities thus bringing important social benefits for local communities. “There will be an upgrading of the N2 between Ermelo through Mkhondo to KZN and Mpumalanga border. It is estimated that this project will cost more than R6 billion. There is also the upgrading of the R40 between Hazyview and Bushbuckridge which is estimated to cost more than R3 billion,” said Mthembu. Mthembu said the current state of the provincial infrastructure is relatively in a good condition except in some areas where there has been damage caused by the recent heavy rains which have resulted in the formation of potholes. However, this is a challenge being addressed on a daily basis by appointed routine road maintenance (RRM) contractors. There are currently 10 routine road maintenance (RRM) projects servicing the province. Two more will be awarded before 31 March 2022. There is a Special Maintenance Project along the N17 Section 5 from Chrissiesmeer to km 85 within the Msukaligwa and Chief Albert Luthuli Local Municipalities respectively and the project will be completed approximately on 31 March 2023.
There is an upgrade project along the R573 Section 2 between Kwaggafontein and Vlaglaagte within the Thembisile Hani Local Municipality and the estimated completion date is 28 February 2024. There will be conventional projects awarded during the course of the 2022 which include the N11 Section 9 from Hendrina Power Station to N4 in Middelburg and the Resurfacing of N12 Sections 19 and 20 from Delmas to Orgies.A key part of ensuring the success of the projects lies with solidifying virtuous relations with all relevant stakeholders, including the municipalities, business forums and community structures. As things stand, the existing relationship with all stakeholders is good with a few exceptions where there is further engagement and consultation taking place. Previous projects have been known to have experienced stakeholder challenges, such as contractors or community members who disrupt projects and wish to participate without following proper procedures. However, SANRAL has embarked on a drive to ensure there is continuous engagement with stakeholders to reach a mutual consensus and compromise that benefits all affected parties. The projects will benefit the community through the creation of jobs and local SMMEs an opportunity to participate in the project. All projects will have Project Liaison Committee (PLC) to oversee the participation of local SMME’s in the projects. The tenders for SMME’s will be advertised under the auspices of the PLC to ensure maximum participation. “All SANRAL projects have a subcontracting component as per the government legislation; 30% for all conventional projects and between 40% and 60% for RRM projects,” said Mthembu. SANRAL will continue its vision of ensuring a national road transport system that will deliver on a better South Africa for all.