July 20, 2024

R3.3bn Budget Set To Build Bridges In Rural Areas Over 3 Years – Zikalala

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Zikalala said the project will target rural areas where there has been a backlog in the construction of bridges.

FILE PHOTO: Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure Sihle Zikalala. PICTURE: KZN Government

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PRETORIA: The Welisizwe Bridges Construction Project will be carried out in six provinces.

The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure announced a budget of R3.3 billion to construct bridges in rural areas over the next three years.

The department said it would be building 134 bridges through the Welisizwe Bridges Construction Project, which would be carried out in six provinces. The Welisizwe Bridges project is a government initiative aimed at addressing the backlog of bridges infrastructure in rural and disadvantaged communities.

The Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, Sihle Zikalala, said the project will target rural areas where there has been a backlog in the construction of bridges.

“Welisizwe Bridges not only makes access possible to many communities but also is labour intensive, creating a number of working opportunities through the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).  

“A number of skills like welding, groundwork and soil retention are transferred to the workers. Each bridge site has seven SANDF members who oversee all the projects, five artisans and 40 EPWP workers,” Zikalala said.

Provinces, including KwaZulu-Natal, have been faced with infrastructure challenges where bridges have been destroyed as a result of heavy rains. Zikalala said those areas would also be prioritised.

“This situation deprives learners of the opportunity when it rains to go to school and for the community to access to services that they need. So, we are expediting, we are pushing and the coordination is tight.”

“The Department of Defence (SA Army) has committed to providing assistance with regards to construction vehicles, construction machine operators, artisans and the expansion of the Military Temporary Bases where necessary.

“Since the programme is expected to deliver 48 legacy bridges plus 96 bridges initially announced by the President for the 2023/24 financial year, phased construction will take place simultaneously at all bridge sites with augmented resources to a total of 100 bridges in all six provinces,” Zikalala explained.

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