The South African National Roads Agency SOC Limited’s (SANRAL) R61 upgrade project from Bayiza to Mthatha Airport will create much-needed economic spin-offs and job opportunities for the community of King Sabata Dalindyebo Local Municipality.
Speaking at the project relaunch on Thursday (29 July) at Mthatha Airport, Eastern Cape MEC for Roads, Transport and Safety, Weziwe Tikana-Gxotiwe, said that after completion, the R61 road will be a vital link and catalyst for the development of the Wild Coast Special Economic Zone.
“The R61 Corridor is an important corridor in this region because it eases the movement of people and freight companies within the region and other parts of the country. As a provincial government, working together with SANRAL, we recognise the importance of a good and sustainable road network that benefits our province and its citizens,” she said.
Valued at R237 million, the project will start in September this year and is expected to be completed in November 2022.
“While the entire upgrade of the road is envisaged to be completed in 18 months, we have allocated the first three months of the construction to what we call the mobilisation period,” said Mbulelo Peterson, SANRAL’s Regional Manager for the Southern Region.
“This is a period in which H&I Construction, the appointed contractor, will interact with the Project Liaison Committee (PLC) and craft work packages that comprise the Contract Participation Goals (CPG), which is the amount that will be allocated to targeted enterprises and suppliers.
“These matters will be discussed and agreed upon within the first three months with the PLC. The PLC comprises representatives from the municipality, traditional leadership, business, and other sectors of society.”
According to Peterson, the CPG on the project is R71m, which is 30% of the total project value. About R18,9 million of the project has also been earmarked to create job opportunities for local community members.
About 160 to 200 job opportunities will be created for skilled and semi-skilled workers during the construction phase. Skills development and other training opportunities will be offered to those working on site.
The upgrade of the R61 will also assist in improve traffic flow as there has been a substantial increase of traffic volumes over the past few years. Access to Mthatha Airport will improve significantly once the project is completed.
Numerous intersections will be upgraded to improve traffic flow and ease turning movements into and out of the R61, and some access road intersections with the R61 will be re-gravelled or surfaced.
In the next four years SANRAL also plans to construct a dual carriageway between the Mthatha Airport and Mthatha CBD to increase mobility and the level of service of the road.
The R61 project came to a standstill in June 2018 because the previous contractor was placed under business rescue and subsequently liquidated. The contract was re-tendered in late 2020, leading to H&I Construction’s appointment.