Engineer Squadron members deployed by the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) under Operation Chariot for disaster relief in KwaZulu-Natal continue with reconstruction efforts.
One of the tasks they are busy with is the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the M4, which was extensively damaged by recent floods.
Daily duties on the construction site comprise assembling gabion baskets, filling gabions with stones, connecting 600 mm and 900 mm stormwater pipes, backfilling and compacting sand and gabion stones. Excavators and tipper trucks are hard at work collecting, delivering and transporting other material needed for the road rehabilitation, reports Captain Tshegofatso Gwai.
“The workload is massive, the site is dusty and the common goal among all workers on site is again to make the road accessible for the motorists. Other members who are involved in the project are from the Department of Transport and also Expanded Public Works Programmes (EPWP) from the Province who support and work together with soldiers,” Gwai reports.
The men and women in SANDF uniform are involved in two projects along the M4: the Leo Boyd highway and fixing the bridge at La Mercy.
The members are under the command of the Engineer Squadron Major Madimetja Lucas Masenya.
Soldiers are also fixing large and small roads across KwaZulu-Natal, including in rural areas, and delivering water and other assistance to communities. For example, on 21 June the SANDF distributed 3 550 litres of purified bottled water to Hloniphani High School and Mgezengwane Primary School in Emona, Tongaat.
The schools, which are within 2.5 kilometres of each other, have suffered from water supply issues since 2016. The local municipality refills their Jojo water tank every Monday, but this is not sufficient, prompting the SANDF to step in, Lieutenant Phuti Badimo reports for the SANDF. The water distributed is from the SA National Defence Force Hazelmere Water Purification Plant.
The SA National Defence Force maintains it will continue providing relief to areas which are struggling with water shortages in KwaZulu-Natal for as long as it remains deployed for Operation Chariot in support of government disaster management efforts.