Civil Designer Showcase

Improved Access To Ugie And Langeni

"The breathtaking beauty of the Ugie and Langeni areas is unknown to the rest of the Eastern Cape because the difficult terrain has restricted access to this vicinity. With the completion of the Ugie Langeni Project, this problem will become a thing of the past and entry into these areas will no longer be a concern," says Ties Bos, MD of Saunders and Wium.

The project consists of the upgrading of existing provincial roads and the construction of a new section of road in the Ukhahlamba District of the Elundini Local Municipality in the Eastern Cape.

The full project was divided into two phases with phase one comprising of 33km of road from Ugie to Ncembu. The first leg of the venture was estimated at a cost of R194 million and was handled jointly by Steward Scott in Port Elizabeth and Saunders and Wium in East London as a joint venture.

The New Section of Road "The road link from Ugie to Langeni is a critical element of the multi-disciplinary provincial flagship project, Kei Rail. This project is led by the Department of Roads and Public Works in the Eastern Cape and represents an integrated development plan to stimulate and sustain socio-economic growth in this region."

"The construction of the road went out to tender in November 2003 and the contract was awarded to WBHO / Mandelethu Joint Venture in March 2004," explains Ties.

"The area stretching from Ugie to Langeni is rich in natural resources and includes agricultural and timber produce. Large plantations were established some thirty years ago and harvesting is due to start in the near future. Since the territory is quite large, the harvesting cycle will be an ongoing expedition year after year," says Ties, explaining that the construction of the new road will improve access into the area, allowing farmers to convey their produce to markets.

The groundwork to the project entailed, inter alia, a geotechnical study of the area, as well as an engineering survey of the route. "The relevant data from the engineering survey was transferred into CIVIL DESIGNER so that we could create a model of the terrain. The road was divided into two sections so that each member of the engineering joint venture could design their own section. With the help of CIVIL DESIGNER, we were able to perform all the calculations with speed, allowing us to optimise cut and fill volumes," explains Ties.

In the next 30 months, the contractor aim to complete approximately 1km of road per month. The road will be completed with five bridges and several underpasses for farmers.

In addition, the project requires strict adherence to environmental criteria, because the road runs through scenic countryside. "Our project team included environmental specialists who often engaged in lengthy discussions on how to overcome the environmental restrictions imposed."
Ugie to Langeni Road | Saunders and Wium

"In one instance, an existing farm school was affected by the new road alignment. Provision was therefore made in the contract for the construction of school buildings and sports fields.

Several families will also have to be relocated, because the new road runs through an existing village," says Ties.

"The road is linked to a multi-million rand investment by the forestry sector at Langeni and will lead to the creation of employment opportunities for local residents. This investment involves the annual harvesting of large quantities of timber in the Ugie and Maclear area, as well as at Langeni, commencing at the end of 2006."

The contract specified the use of local material and workers during the projects completion. "This stipulation presented many challenges because most of the road runs through farmland, making the acquisition of local labour extremely difficult. In addition, the nature of the work requires specific skills and workers will therefore have to receive extensive training in order to prepare them for the project."

"Community reaction on the project is very positive, as it is aimed at improving the mobility of farmers to markets and will alleviate the poverty of local residents through the transfer of skills and training. Tourism is also likely to receive an economic injection and entrepreneurs and SMME's will experience an increase in job creation opportunities."

"There are still many months ahead before phase one of the project will be completed, but the area should receive significant economic growth after the completion of the road," the engineer says in closing.

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