Mtentu project ‘won’t be a bridge too far

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The Mtentu bridge, which was abandoned last week, will be completed on time, transport MEC Weziwe Tikana said on Wednesday.
Tikana, co-operative governance & traditional affairs MEC Fikile Xasa and Sanral chair Themba Mhambi met in East London on Tuesday to discuss the mega project.
Tikana chairs the N2 Wild Coast Road project political oversight committee.
Finance MEC Oscar Mabuyane and his rural development & agrarian reform counterpart Xolile Nqatha are part of the committee, but did not attend.
Tuesday’s meeting came after Austrian construction company Strabag and its South African joint venture partner Aveng terminated the R1.65bn construction contract earlier in February.
Aveng cited protests by communities against the Sanral project as the reason for its decision, adding the joint venture had been unable to work on the project since October due to threats of violence.
The joint venture disagreed with Sanral’s view that engagement with the communities had reached a stage where work could continue safely.
While Aveng has left the site, Sanral Eastern Cape manager Mbulelo Peterson said they had a contract with Aveng and would “persuade them to continue with the project”.
Mhambi said: “We will explore every possible avenue to ensure the project continues as planned.”
In a statement on Wednesday, Tikana said the Mtentu bridge, one of the mega bridges that is part of the N2 Wild Coast road project, would soon be back on track and that the project would be completed as planned.
“The meeting was aimed at working out a plan to get this project back on track after the contractor on the Mtentu bridge abandoned the construction site, citing unsafe working conditions as the reason, an assertion that Sanral has rejected and challenged.
“But despite all this, the political oversight community and Sanral were united in expressing their commitment to, and optimism for the project,” Tikana said, adding work was continuing around the clock to get the project back on track.
“This is a national project. One of the biggest projects our democratic government has ever embarked on, and one that we, as the Eastern Cape, are privileged to have constructed in our province and are set to benefit greatly from.”
Mbizana’s Jama village community leader Madayisi Dimane said they would meet in Mbizana on Thursday to discuss the matter...

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