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The South African National Roads Agency SOC Limited (SANRAL) project on the N2 between Mtunzini and Empangeni in KwaZulu-Natal has required “a high level of agility”, according to Jonathan Pearce, Concor Infrastructure’s Contracts Manager on the project. The project, which includes substantial works such as the building of 11 bridges, comprises the construction of a new northbound carriageway and the rehabilitation of the existing road to form the future southbound carriageway on a 34 km section of the N2.

Agility enables KZN road project to stay on track

Pearce says that while it is not unusual to fine tune the construction programme on a major roads project such as this, the agility required on this project “places it in a category of its own”. He explains that among the challenges experienced since the contract started in March 2016 is the unpredictable tropical climate of the region. Some weather events caused significant damage to works, leading to delays. Geotechnical difficulties were also experienced during piling activities on some of the critical bridges, leading to delays to the construction programme for these structures.

“The project remains on track, and this is largely due to the team’s ability to adapt the sequencing to accommodate the various challenges as they have been confronted on site. Not only is it about having a quick and appropriate reaction to situations as these arise, but it is also about having the necessary in-depth technical knowledge and practical experience as well as the necessary resources to minimise the impact of the consequential delays,” Pearce says.

Most of the earthworks have been done on the project, as well as a significant portion of the layer works. Asphalt work is also underway. The project will consume around 220 000 tonnes of asphalt and Concor Infrastructure established its own Comar asphalt batching plant on site, resulting in time and cost savings.

Of the 11 bridges, three are at a point where desk construction is underway and on the remaining eight only parapet work is still to be done. The two largest bridges are road over river structures. The eight span uMhlathuze River bridge, which is at 75% completion, is the longest at 240 metres, while the uMlalazi River Bridge is 120 metres long. This bridge is 90% complete. The extension of all four overpass bridges has been completed, and the Empangeni interchange bridge is almost finished.

Pearce says Concor Infrastructure has achieved a massive milestone in 2 million Lost Time Injury Free (LTIF) hours on the Mtunzini project. What is particularly significant is that the work is conducted on numerous faces on this complex construction project, with a vast array of engineering facets being employed, he adds.

“Safety is an important focus at Concor, and the achievement on this site shows that the objective of zero-harm is within reach. Attention is given to ongoing skills development and training to ensure that all stakeholders, not just the Concor people, understand the safety requirements that have enabled us to reach this milestone.”

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