GEORGE NEWS - Work on the widening of the Gwaiing River bridge on the N2 was stopped in February due to the main contractor "experiencing financial distress".
This is according to Randall Cable, Western Region manager for the SA National Roads Agency (Sanral), who responded to a query by the George Herald. Cable said the contractor, KPMM, is attempting "to navigate rough waters in a sector that is under pressure" and is trying to find a solution for its cash flow problems.
The upgrading is intended to double the capacity of the bridge. There will be two separate bridges, one for traffic in each direction.
The anticipated completion date for the project was July 2020, but Cable said this will depend on how soon the contractor can remedy its financial trouble and resume work. "There is no speculation of time frame at this stage."
The original contract value was about R170-million.
To allegations that the contractors have not been paid, Cable said the main contractor has been paid by Sanral and is responsible for making payments to subcontractors. About R50,3-million has been paid on the works so far.
Responding to some road users' scepticism about the necessity for the project, he said the upgrade is for safety reasons and to increase the capacity of the road. "There is clear evidence of scraping against the railings due to the narrowness of the bridge. There is also photographic evidence of the high degree of straddling of lanes to avoid the concrete sides of the bridge, which is a serious safety concern, given the high operating speeds."
He denied that the road is earmarked to become a toll road in the future and said there are no plans for further capacity upgrades between George and Mossel Bay at this stage.
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