Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille will on Monday officially handover a recently completed bridge in the Ndwedwe Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal.

The Minister will be accompanied by KZN Transport Community Safety and Liaison MEC Peggy Nkonyeni and other local leaders.

The Welisizwe Rural Bridges Programme was gazetted as a Strategic Integrated Project in July 2020 as part of government’s Infrastructure Investment Plan approved by Cabinet in May 2020.

The department in an advisory said the programme was aimed at providing safe access to social amenities and further respond to potential disaster areas and emergency disaster situations.

“It ensures that community members especially school children can have safe passage to amenities such as schools and clinics and prevents devastating drownings which often take place in rural areas without proper infrastructure,” it said.

The intervention was done through the construction of Modular Steel Bridges.

The Department and its Defence & Military Veterans counterparts (DOD) entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on the implementation of the Welisizwe Programme. Subsequently, the DPWI and the KZN Department of Transport entered into a MOA on the implementation of the Welisizwe Programme within the KwaZulu-Natal province.

The province was identified as a key area for this intervention following inclement weather conditions caused by severe thunderstorm which resulted in adverse effects on both human life and property.

DPWI and SANDF undertook technical assessments in the identified potential disaster sites in KwaZulu Natal and the KwaZulu Natal Department of Transport committed funds for the installation of the fourteen (14) bridges in KZN. Teams from SANDF were deployed in 2020 with DPWI assisting in a coordinating role to install the bridges in the province.

Since April 2020, 11 of the 14 bridges have been completed in KZN at a cost of R103 million.

The project also forms part of government’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP) to provide much needed financial relief and provide jobs and opportunities to community members and local companies.

To date the project has created 420 jobs in the various areas in the province thus far.

A number of local companies have also benefitted from the project through sub-contracting of goods and services during the installation of the bridges.

The programme is also contributing towards the skills development initiative as 23 graduates were appointed as part of the bridge assessment, project management team and maintenance team. These positions included engineers and candidate construction project managers.

Source: South African Government News Agency