Civil Designer Showcase

Robert Mugabe Road Receives Extension

Watze Hepkema is a quiet unassuming young gentleman who is rarely intimidated by the size of any project. This bright young Engineer at Africon Namibia admits to tackling many initiatives on his own and operates almost exclusively within a one-man band. "I have worked on many assignments in the last few years, but no other venture has challenged me quite as much as the Robert Mugabe upgrade and extension," he says with a chuckle.

Watze seems to take the daily challenges that are associated with being a Civil Engineer in his stride and has approached the N$110,75 million road extension with the same focus that he applies to every initiative. "This venture was requested just over two years ago by the City of Windhoek to alleviate traffic in Independence Avenue and basically entailed the extension of Robert Mugabe Avenue to a dual carriageway road over a length of 1.4km. In addition to the extension, the existing single carriageway road had to be upgraded to a dual carriageway and the road re-aligned to meet a design speed of 80km/h."

Although the project seemed fairly straightforward, it turned out to be no easy task. "We had to construct a total of four bridges and alter nearly 18 intersections and the Klein Windhoek River with a 1 in 50 year flood volume of 274m³ per second had to be re-aligned over 0.9km. The project also required the expropriation of eight properties for the alignment of the road and the relocation of certain sports facilities. We negotiated with the various schools when constructing the pedestrian bridge over the road in order to provide a safer access to sports facilities," explains Watze enthusiastically.

The realignment of Windhoek River was another particularly challenging aspect during the projects completion. "We re-aligned the Klein Windhoek River with a 900m long, 40m wide canal with 2.5m reno-mattress lined embankments, thereby making available a portion of the river and floodplain for the construction of the road. The project was awarded to the Klein Windhoek Joint Venture, which included Africon Namibia, Steward Scott Namibia and Lund Consulting Engineers. We were responsible for the road works and project management while Steward Scott was responsible for the structural works and Lund Consulting Engineers for the re-alignment of the Klein Windhoek River."

Another challenge, was the actual route of Robert Mugabe Avenue which proved to be especially problematic due to the erf boundary and existing road restrictions. "We had to alter the vertical alignment through the business and residential area substantially in order to meet the 80km/h design speed criteria. This posed many challenges because of the high number of intersections and accesses that had to be considered. The environmental impact assessment (EIA) and impact mitigation plan on the proposed route was done by Eco-plan. The plan stipulated that two new trees had to be planted for every indigenous plant that was uprooted during the project. It was further agreed that the Namibian Botanical Research Institute (NBRI) could remove aloes and other plants on the route before any construction could commence."
Robert Mugabe Road Extension
Robert Mugabe Road Extension | Africon Namibia

In addition to the existing design challenges, the contract itself had specific conditions of its own. "One of the conditions of the contract specified the use of small and medium sized contractors (SMME's). We commissioned Grinaker-LTA to train the SMME's in various facets of contract management and tendering. Six of these SMME's were then awarded sub-contracts and an SMME manager was also appointed under the contract to assist and train the SMME's in the actual execution of their contracts."

"We relied quite heavily on Civil Designer to help us with the design. It is so much easier to improve the alignments of the road according to requirements when you are working with such a program, as it calculates the desired quantities quickly and accurately and this has definitely increased our confidence. We also used Civil Designer to design the traffic circle which allowed Robert Mugabe Avenue to link up with Independence Avenue directly. The circle has an outside radius of 50m," says Watze, his eyes twinkling with excitement.

The project has taken many months of planning and project management but Watze is the first to admit that the projects completion has certainly been "both an enriching and rewarding experience." After chatting to this softly spoken Engineer, you are immediately reminded of his calm and focused nature, attributes that will certainly lead him to continue on his destined path of success.

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