KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison Bheki Ntuli, in partnership with the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), officially launched a strategic infrastructure partnership that will ensure the construction of 14 Bailey bridges worth R110.4 million in the province.
MEC Ntuli was last week accompanied by Ray Nkonyeni Local Municipality Mayor Nomusa Mqwebu, Inkosi Mxolisi Xolo of KwaXolo Traditional Council, Department of Transport Acting Head of Department Smanga Ngubo and Major Teisetso Ledija representing SANDF.
The construction of the 14 vehicle and pedestrian Bailey bridges is part of the commitments made by MEC Ntuli during his budget speech earlier this year and will ensure safe access to social services. These include schools, clinics, police stations and the South African Social Security Agency, the KZN Department of Transport said.
Addressing members of the community at Tholimfundo Sports Ground on 28 November, Ntuli said the construction of these bridges has created a platform for local people to enhance their skills and much-needed job opportunities for locals, including youth and women.
“The construction of the Bailey bridges, especially in inaccessible rural areas in our province is part of government’s Bailey bridge intervention programme to improve access to services. The Department of Transport has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Public Works and SANDF to upscale the construction of bridges and improve mobility. Our key target is to provide safe crossing to learners attending schools adjacent to areas that are prone to flooding and crocodiles,” said Ntuli.
In the Ugu District Municipality, there are four Bailey bridges currently under construction while 10 other bridges are being constructed in other parts of the province, including uMzinyathi District Municipality and Pietermaritzburg.
The original Bailey bridge components, acquired to build bridges for military use, are part of the Bailey M2 bridge system first brought into service during World War Two and used extensively by British, Canadian and US military engineers in many theatres.
The South African Army Engineer Formation has, since democracy, put the bridge components to civilian use with bridges across inhospitable ravines and rivers mostly in the Eastern Cape. Bridges have also been erected in northern Gauteng and the KwaZulu-Natal interior.