Agility keeps North Coast road project on track

05 September 2018 | Web Article Number: ME201811427

Construction, Civil & Structural Engineering
Consulting Engineers & Project Management
SMME Development & Support

THE South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL) project on the N2, between Mtunzini and Empangeni has brought with it a series of challenges that placed it in a category of its own.

That’s according to Jonathan Pearce, Concor Infrastructure’s contracts manager on this project, who said these included unpredictable tropical climate of the region with some weather events causing significant damage to works with consequential 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, 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 this 34 km section of the N2.

 Agility keeps North Coast road project on track
V-drains being constructed by an SMME contractor on Concor Infrastructure's N2 contract

“Detailed planning forms the basis of all successful projects, however the high level of agility required on this project places it in a category of its own,” Pearce said, adding that 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 these 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.”

A key requirement of all major roads projects today is the upskilling of SMMEs from within the local communities.

“In many instances, the learning curve for these SMMEs has been massive and it has required the construction programme to have the in-built flexibility to change at short notice to accommodate issues with the works packages where SMMEs are involved,” he said.

Careful planning applied to these areas of work which have included sub-soil drains, pipe culverts and head and wing walls has allowed the impact to be minimised wherever possible, while still ensuring that high standards of workmanship.

An example where an SMME has contributed positively to the project is the construction of the v-drains which is being done using slip forming. The mechanisation of this task has ensured consistent quality and eliminated wastage, saving both on time and cost.

Commenting on the status, Pearce said that the roadworks had progressed to the point where most of the earthworks have been done 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 additional 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 with the eight span uMhlathuze River bridge being the longest at 240 metres while the uMlalazi River Bridge is 120 metres long. The former is at 75% completion while the latter is 90% complete.

The extension of all four overpass bridges has been completed and Empangeni interchange bridge is almost finished.

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