Record breaker! Work begins on iconic Msikaba Bridge

IN a badly-needed boost to the Eastern Cape’s battered construction sector, work has started on the foundations for the Msikaba Bridge near Lusikisiki, a structure destined to be the longest cable-stayed bridge in Africa.

Being built over the Msikaba Gorge by Concor Infrastructure in a joint venture with Mota Engil Construction. the bridge forms part of the N2 Wild Coast project being undertaken by the South African National Roads Agency Limited.

Significant work has already been done on the establishment infrastructure to support the construction works. Work on the approach roads and the pylon foundations and anchor blocks for the bridge are currently under construction.

When completed this spectacular structure will also be the second longest main span bridge crossing ever built on the continent with a tower-to-tower distance of 580 metres. Its two pylons will be 127 metres high.

With a bridge deck at 194 metres above the valley floor, the Msikaba Bridge will be the third highest bridge in Africa, eclipsed only by the existing Bloukrans Bridge with a height of 216 metres and the Mtentu Bridge which, when completed, will be 223 metres high.

Eric Wisse, Managing Director of Concor Infrastructure, said the joint venture had overcome the initial community challenges through significant engagement strategies with the various community stakeholders and businesses.

Legacy

Concor has a strong legacy in the construction of iconic bridges, having constructed the Bloukrans Bridge back in 1983. The company also built the Grootrivier and Bobbejaansrivier Bridges in the Eastern Cape.

The Msikaba Bridge will require 43,000m3 of concrete, 2,700 tons of structural steel, 1,090 tons of cables and 3,100 tons of steel reinforcing.

Not to be overshadowed by the bridge is the balance of works contained in the contract which includes construction of 1,5km of approach roadworks on either side of the bridge. Expressed in quantities, this will include 650,000m³ of bulk earthworks of which 430,000m³ is hard rock, a conventional three-span bridge and four in-situ concrete culverts crossing some of the tributaries.

A significant amount will be spent on projects to benefit of the wider community, including upgrading or repairing gravel roads in the district.

Wisse said that due to the remoteness of the project as well as the logistics travelling from the northern side to the southern side, a three-hour drive, a cable way will be installed as part of the temporary works.

Due to the specialist nature of this installation, a company from Switzerland has been appointed to install the cable way. It was anticipated that the cableway would be complete and operational by the end of May.

“The cable car system will be used to transport people and small amounts of material from one side to the other,” Wisse said.

Work on the project was suspended following the declaration of the National State of Disaster, but has been resumed under the Level 4 restrictions with all the necessary measures having been put in place to ensure the health and safety of all stakeholders as the country moves into Level 3 at the start of June.S

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