The structures and earthworks for State-owned power utility Eskom’s Majuba rail project, in Mpumalanga, are 98% and 96% complete respectively, with 55% of formation ready for track laying, said construction and engineering group Aveng Grinaker-LTA earlier this month.
Most of the site has been handed over to business unit Aveng Rail, which is installing the rail, with engineering and construction company Ircon installing the overhead traction equipment lines and signalling.
“We expect to complete the project in August,” says Aveng Grinaker-LTA contract director Allan McCormack, adding that “once the rail is commissioned, coal supply to the Majuba and Tutuka power stations will be secured at 21- million tonnes a year”.
The Majuba rail project is a component of the Eskom Road-to-Rail Initiative, with the construction of a railway line that links the Majuba power station to the main coal railway hub in Ermelo, Mpumalanga. The 68 km corridor is the first large greenfield freight rail infrastructure project to be carried out in South Africa since 1986 and will be operated by State-owned logistics provider Transnet Freight Rail.
The initiative aims to ensure the security of coal supply through logistics solutions at the Majuba, Tutuka, Camden, Grootvlei, Kendal and Hendrina power stations to cater for a throughput potential of 32-million tonnes a year of coal by rail. The coal would be unloaded at the terminal by the upgraded coal tippler system, Creamer Media’s Research Channel Africa reported in January.
The project will yield lower life-cycle transportation costs, improve coal-delivery turnaround times and enable Majuba to access more coal sources, according to Eskom.
Aveng Grinaker-LTA’s civil engineering division was awarded the main civil construction and earthworks contract for the project in January 2013; construction activities started in March that year.
The scope of work includes construction of the bulk earthworks, layer works, bridges and culverts, with Aveng Rail responsible for the construction of the railway line and overhead power lines.
The structures to be constructed in the project include 96 culverts, nine cattle creeps, 32 agricultural underpasses and overpasses, 18 bridges, one service duct and 40 cattle grids.
Aveng Grinaker-LTA, an operating group of Aveng, is responsible for all construction activities required to get the formation ready for the laying of sleepers and track, comprising earthworks, layer works, drainage and concrete structures. These include 1.06-million cubic metres of layer works, 1.2-million cubic metres of blasting in cuttings, 2.4-million cubic metres of unsuitable material spoiled and 2.8-million cubic metres of bulk fill.
Aveng Grinaker-LTA, together with Aveng Rail, has an established record in the rail and freight sector with the completion of similar projects, including the Kgalagadi and Nacala railway lines, in the Northern Cape and Mozambique respectively.
Aveng Grinaker-LTA achieved a significant milestone of three-million work hours without a lost-time injury (LTI) at the Majuba project in February, which translates into a lost-time- injury frequency rate (LTIFR) of zero.
This achievement preceded another significant milestone of one year without an LTI on February 14. McCormack acknowledges that previously the project was struggling with an LTIFR of 0.44 after seven LTIs had been recorded over a ten-month period from May 2014 to February 2015.
This milestone was achieved through the implementation of several proactive initiatives, including a refocus on the ownership of safety by the supervisors, visible, felt leadership involving all senior management team members and executives, the implementation of the action notice system and trend analysis, together with the near miss/stokvel system.