July 20, 2016

The South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) his issued tenders to six pre-qualified bidders for each of the mega-bridges, over the Mtentu and Msikaba River gorges, that are to be part of the greenfield section of the N2 Wild Coast Road project.

This is in spite of the fact that the project, which has been dogged by controversy since its inception 15 years ago, still faces some unresolved legal issues. There was huge opposition from KwaZulu-Natal road users who expected to fund the project through increased tolling in their province. However, this opposition has fallen away as the KwaZulu-Natal section has been excluded from the project. The revised N2 Wild Coast Road Project runs from East London to the Mtamvuna River Bridge, a distance of approximately 410km.

Bizana residents fear being displaced and the Amadiba Crisis Committee has objected to the project, claiming it is linked to the Xolobeni dune mining proposal, against which they are fighting. Conservation organisations are bitterly opposed to the fact that the greenfields section of the proposed route will pass through the environmentally sensitive Pondoland Centre of Endemism, part of a global floral hot spot.

Sanral spokesman Mbulelo Peterson said that an open pre-qualification process had been followed before the issuing of the tenders. He said that, due to the size and complexity of the two bridges, which are expected to cost around R3,5-billion to construct, the tender periods were 18 weeks and 20 weeks respectively for the Mtentu and Msikaba Bridges. Tenders would close at the end of October for the Mtentu Bridge and early in November for the Msikaba Bridge. Construction of the bridges was likely to start early next year.

THE N2 Wild Coast road project was already well under way as Sanral had started working on it as soon as it had received the go-ahead from the Minister of Environmental Affairs in 2010. Mr Peterson said that, to date, Sanral had done extensive work on upgrading existing roads on the N2 between East London and Mthatha and on the future new N2 alignment along the current R61 route between Mthatha and Port St Johns.

All work already done on the N2 Wild Coast Road had been funded from non-toll funding and only the greenfields section of the route would be funded through a mix of government grant and tollings.

“Sanral, the Department of Transport and National Treasury are in discussion to finalise the funding model for the greenfields section. By law only roads funded through toll funding can be tolled and no cross-subsidisation of tolling is allowed,” he said.

This meant Sanral could not erect new toll booths or adjust tariffs at existing toll plazas within KwaZulu-Natal to fund roads in the Eastern Cape.

“New toll roads must be gazetted and go through an extensive public participation process after gazetting.”

In January this year, government gave the green light for the construction of the greenfields section of the project, between Ndwalane outside Port St Johns and the Mtamvuna River.

Mr Peterson said this part of the project would start with the construction of the massive bridges over the Mtentu and Msikaba Rivers, which border the Mkambati Nature Reserve. Once these were under way, construction of the remaining approximately 110km of road, the seven additional river bridges and four interchanges would start.

Source - Southcoast Herald

July 4, 2016

India to help Build Nepal Road

Tasked to improve road connectivity in remote parts of India's Northeast, the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (NHIDCL) is now venturing into Nepal where it has been assigned to guide the construction of over 600 km of postal roads in the Terai region bordering India.

A postal road is a road designated for the transportation of postal mail.

According to an MoU inked between India and Nepal, the decision was taken after a similar attempt by the Nepal Government failed to make progress due to negligence of the contractors in 2010.

"The Postal Road in the Terai region of Nepal will boost the country's much awaited road network. Under this current project the NHIDCL will be tasked to guide the construction of 19 postal roads of an outlay of 600 km," one of the top officials at NHIDCL told IANS declining to be identified.

He said the construction of 19 postal roads are under six packages for different parts of the Terai region.

"Basically we will be playing the role of consultants in the entire project. The biddings and all the tendering work of the road construction will be done by Nepal. Our work will basically be to see that the work does not witness failure like earlier," the official said.

According to the official, the decision for handing over the guidance work was decided during the recent visit of Nepal's Prime Minister K.P. Oli to India.

Abhay Thakur, Joint Secretary at the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), told IANS: "Yes, It has been proposed to the Nepal Government for appointing NHIDCL as the consultant for the postal road projects. Though the precise MoU between the NHIDCL and Nepal Government is likely to be inked next week... all things are decided."

He said contractors from both Nepal and India can do the bidding for the postal roads projects.

The NHIDCL authority, who did not wished to be named, said the postal road has been prioritised for the development of Terai/Madhes region by expanding the road network. The 600 km work is only for the first phase. Both the countries will decide the agenda for the remaining works also."

Stating that the project was being financed by India, he said that the money will be given to Nepal for the execution of different stages of work, which will be over looked by the NHIDCL.

According to sources, the cost of the first phase of road construction in the Terai is estimated to increase to Rs 9 billion from the earlier Rs 7 billion. The total project cost will also rise from the previous estimate of Rs 29 billion. Around 130 bridges have to built along the 600 km highway.

Asked if NHIDCL has been given any other foreign projects, the authority said: "The creation of NHIDCL was for creation of difficult roads. The Government has full confidence on us and we are ready to undertake any project in any part of the world under any circumstance. However, there are no immediate foreign projects as of now."

NHIDCL, created in 2014, has recently been given the task of constructing over 4,000 km of roads in the Northeast and Jammu and Kashmir. The organisation was established after Border Roads Organisation (BRO) and Public Works Department of the states failed to carry out road construction in many remote parts in hilly terrain.
Source - Indian Express