The Qiti bridge forms part of a roads safety upgrade project that is expected to be complete in July next year. The project’s purpose is to improve vehicular and pedestrian safety, says global multidisciplinary management, engineering and development consultancy Hatch professional engineer Peter Henderson.
Hatch was appointed by the South African National Roads Agency for the design and supervision of the project. He notes that the Qiti bridge project, in the Eastern Cape, forms part of a larger project that includes the construction of three other bridges.
The main contractor on the project is construction company Triamic Construction. Formwork and scaffolding manufacturer PERI was appointed by Triamic Construction to undertake the design and supply of the formwork and traffic window for the construction of the bridge.
Henderson adds that the project includes intersection upgrades, the building of four bridges, three vehicular underpasses, seven livestock underpasses and several community access roads to improve the flow of traffic on the R61.
He points out that the Qiti bridge has been designed to accommodate vehicles, pedestrians and livestock, adding that the balustrades have been increased in height to ensure that livestock cross the bridge safely while pedestrians are accommodated on a sidewalk.
Prior to the construction of the bridge, vehicles on the R61 had to slow down on a blind rise to exit the road if they were driving to the adjacent communities. The bridge, therefore, forms a link between two communities, he explains.
“Vehicles now leave the R61 at a formalised intersection and use the bridge to cross over the R61, providing safer vehicular movement on the R61,” he comments.
Over the past year, Hatch has received four industry awards for the Tugela river pedestrian bridge. These include a Consulting Engineers South Africa award for Best Projects under R50-million, a South African Institution of Civil Engineering National Award for Outstanding Community-Based Project, and an Institute of Municipal Engineering of Southern Africa Award for Community-Based Project, which were all received this year, as well as a Professional Services Award at the Construction World Awards last year.
The bridge is the first steel pedestrian suspension bridge in the Maphumulo district, in northern KwaZulu-Natal. The structure is 180 m long, with towers that are about 27 m high. The project was designed and supervised by Hatch, which oversaw the full project lifecycle, from feasibility and preliminary studies to detailed design, construction support and the project’s close out.
The bridge opened for public use in July last year and is a landmark structure that forms part of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport’s pedestrian bridge programme, which seeks to redress past imbalances for historically impoverished communities by implementing infrastructure that will improve their quality of life.
Prior to the construction of the bridge, community members crossed the 150-m-wide Tugela river to access local schools and amenities. The crossing put them at risk of being swept away by the current or attacked by crocodiles.
“We are proud to have made a genuine impact on the local Maphumulo community. It is truly rewarding that in applying our technical abilities and doing what we love, we can bring about lasting, positive change for generations,” Hatch engineer and project manager Sarisha Harrychund enthuses.