With a tight deadline and many challenges, Esorfranki Civils was working around the clock to ensure that the stretch of the R21 highway between Pomona road and the R24 split, in Kempton Park, east of Johannesburg, would be ready before the start of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Senior site agent for the project Morné Barnard said during a site visit on Friday that this section of work near the OR Tambo International Airport had to be completed by May 28, before the World Cup starts on June 11.
This formed part of the work package J of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP), which Esorfranki Civils was responsible for.
The highway was being widened to four lanes on each side, while a number of bridges had to be lengthened and refurbished and some pedestrian bridges removed.
Barnard highlighted that the supply of bitumen was one of the greatest challenges it was facing at present.
Despite placing orders for bitumen two to three weeks ahead of time, not enough supply was coming through, as many of the oil refineries that supplied the bitumen were undertaking maintenance shutdowns for the World Cup period.
He noted that while about 1 000 t/d of bitumen was required by the road construction industry, only about 30 t/d to 70 t/d was currently being delivered.
Barnard said that it had informed the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) of the potential delays that this could cause.
It would meet with Sanral again next week regarding this matter.
Esorfranki also noted that another challenge was the electrical cabling that had to go underneath this stretch of road, while nearby reservoirs that were leaking were also hampering the project.
Meanwhile, Barnard said that the heavy rains experienced in the Kempton Park area during January had delayed the overall work package J project by about two months.
While the area usually got about 136 mm of rain in January, about 400 mm of rain had been recorded in January this year.
The entire project, which involved the 12 km between the Pomona road off-ramp and the Rietfontein interchange, would be completed by April 2011.