Minister hands over life-saving infrastructure

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Public Works and Infrastructure Minister, Patricia de Lille, says infrastructure is not just about cold, cement buildings - it is about life-saving measures.

“We always see the horror stories of how our community members and children have to cross river streams to get to school and work and many times, people and children have lost their lives drowning due to lack of infrastructure,” De Lille said.

Speaking at an official hand over of a new bridge in Empangeni in KwaZulu-Natal, De Lille said since last April, all partners have worked together to ensure that they complete the 14 bridges planned for various communities in KZN.

According to De Lille, in November 2021 they handed over the 11th bridge to the community in Ndwedwe.

“Two more bridges have been completed and these will be handed over to the communities by the provincial government. These are the Nyalazi bridge in Mtubatuba Local Municipality and the Okhombe bridge in the Okhahlamba municipality,” De Lille said.

De Lille said the construction of the bridges was made possible by a partnership between different government departments and spheres of government.

“The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI), the Department of Defence and Military Veterans (DOD) and the Department of Transport – KZN entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on the implementation of Welisizwe Programme within the province.

“The programme is aimed at providing urgent safe access to social amenities and further respond to potential disaster areas and emergency disaster situations. The intervention is done through the construction of Modular Steel Bridges,” De Lille said.

The DPWI and SANDF undertook technical assessments in the identified potential disaster sites in KwaZulu-Natal and the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport (KZN DOT) committed funds for the installation of the 14 bridges in the province.

The KZN Department of Transport allocated around R110.4 million for the construction of the 14 bridges including contingencies and R103 million was spent on the installation of the 14 bridges.

De Lille explained that the initiative forms part of government’s response to challenges of access to social facilities and forms part of the SONA commitments as announced by the President earlier this year.

“The programme contributed towards skills development as 23 graduates were appointed as the bridge assessment, project management team and maintenance team. These positions included junior and assistant engineers as well as candidate construction project managers.

“The project also provided Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) opportunities to residents from surrounding communities. In total 420 EPWP opportunities were provided during the construction of the 14 bridges in KwaZulu-Natal.

“Of the 420 EPWP opportunities, 60 of those work opportunities were provided for this bridge to residents from surrounding communities,” the Minister said.

According to De Lille, more than 30 local companies have benefited from the projects as they supplied various goods and services during the installation of the bridges over the past year.

“Apart from the 14 bridges that have been completed since May 2021, we are now working to upscale this project and bring more bridges to communities in need in KwaZulu-Natal, especially in light of the recent, devastating floods across the province,” De Lille said.

De Lille said 18 bridge sites were identified and assessed for the 2022/23 financial year and following the floods, the total number of sites where bridges need to be installed across the province now stands at 52 bridge sites which have been identified.

“These 52 bridge sites are across the province in various municipalities including; Mkhambathini, ILembe, Mvoti, UMsunduzi and in eThekwini.

“The process of adding more technical capacity has started and technical assessments for the first 18 bridges have already been completed. The technical assessments for the remainder of the 52 bridge sites is expected to be completed in the coming days,” De Lille said. – SAnews.gov.za

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