Re-opening of the Lutanandwa Bridge (Vhembe District), by Limpopo MEC for Roads and Transport Pinky Kekana
9 Dec 2010
Executive Mayor of Vhembe District Municipality
Mayor of Makhado Local Municipality
Councilors and Managers of Municipalities
Members of the Portfolio Committee on Transport
HoD and officials of the department
CEO and Management of RAL
Traditional Leaders and healers
Members of the Media
Ladies and gentlemen
We welcome you all to this important event and indeed thank you for honouring our invite. We meet here today to unveil yet another project in a series of many that my department had been embarking on since the beginning of this financial year. It is an honour indeed to end the year with an event of this magnitude.
The re-opening of the bridge comes at a more opportune time as hundreds if not thousands of migrant workers and holidaymakers will be coming home for the festive season, with expectation of a big push in traffic expected next week Friday. We couldn’t have chosen a better day than this one, more so opening it during the festive season.
This morning together with Senior Officials I took a turn at a number of areas just to inform some of the decision that will be made in the next financial year. We drove together with the entourage to Musekwa Road, Khalavha Bridge and Tshisaulu Road just to mention a few. I so wish it was possible to have more resources so that our people are not subjected to harsh conditions that they have to endure on a daily basis.
What we have seen just re-emphasises the point on the urgency to execute the task at hand. It is delicate balancing act as we have to allocate resources for preserving and building new roads and bridges. What compounds the problems is the enormity of the backlog which stands at around 15 000 kilometres. No mean feat by any stretch of any imagination. We are exploring a range of funding options and we will be equal to the task, no doubt about that. Full details will be announced once we have concretised and finalised our own plans.
On 22 April 2009, millions of our people went out to cast their votes. They exercised their democratic right spurred on by the desire to change their lives for the better. In their overwhelming numbers they confirmed that “working together we can do more” to fight poverty and build a better life for all South Africans.
We are indeed humbled by this decisive electoral mandate our people bestowed on us. Through this project we are fulfilling the hopes and dreams of our people, that we are government which is capable and willing. We know about the inconvenience during the time the bridge collapse and construction. We cannot lament the problem more than saying we have listened and heard you by delivering.
During the national and provincial elections we made certain commitments that working together we will speed up economic growth and transform the economy to create decent work and sustainable livelihoods. We promised to introduce a massive programme to build economic and social infrastructure as well as develop and implement a comprehensive rural development strategy.
Central to our programme is a strong belief that roads and bridges connect people and communities and also facilitate for them to access jobs, markets and other opportunities. We are living up to our mission to improving the quality of life of our people but fulfilling the role of transport in making sure our roads infrastructure serve both economic and social needs of our people. We can’t falter on this.
Programme director, we are on record including our Premier in the undertaking to meet the deadline we set to have the Lutanandwa Bridge ready during the festive season. We have worked tirelessly to ensure that this happens. Numerous monitoring sessions and inspections were conducted so that we do not deviate from the plan.
We were quite prepared to be taken on the commitment because we hold a view which says ‘that which is not timed will take forever to deliver’. The road we have travelled till today has not been an easy one, as the doubting Thomases did not believe us when we said that the bridge would be complete before the end of this year. To them we say do not be shy to eat a humble pie.
Programme director, the reopening of this bridge signals an important era in the life of the people of Vhembe District and by extension the province as it will link many communities that have been separated because of its collapse. The collapse of this bridge on 20 November 2008 taught us many lessons, but the most important one is that Mother Nature can be angry and when she is angry, she can destroy everything, even those that are made of rocks and steel.
Our commitment is to have a road logistics value chain that preserves road infrastructure, road safety and increase the productivity of the logistics value chain. We understood the impact this bridge had on the people Vhembe. That is why in future we will fast - track emergency response programme to deal specifically with matters of this nature.
The collapse of this bridge resulted in the traffic being diverted through Levubu farms, which added travel distance by more than 12 kilometres. The reopening of the refurbished Lutanandwa Bridge will therefore bring relief as the travelling distance will even be shorter, as well as contribute to the economic activities in the Vhembe District by linking villages and towns and reducing travelled distances among business communities.
Programme director, we also promised our people that we will strengthen the skills and human resource base. With this in mind, a total of R28 585 031 has been spent to demolish and resuscitate this bridge. The contract made provision for the employment of local labourers by the contractor during the period of reconstruction. The amount that had been earmarked for labour utilisation was 15% of the total contract value, for which 60% was utilised to empower local labourers.
The local labourers also benefited from the accredited training which was offered. We hope that the skills acquired during the construction of the bridge will give them an edge and put them at the forefront in their search for employment.
The appointed contractor empowered the local small, medium and micro-enterprise (SMME’s) by appointing them as sub-contractors on this project. By this we also hope that the lives of those who benefited one way or the other will improve. On this a total of 30% of the contract value was utilised to ensure that local SMME’s were empowered.
Programme director, one wise man once said that the road to perfection is always under construction. As the department tasked with ensuring that the province’s roads are well maintained to both the economic and social sectors, we say that we will always reconstruct this road even if it is complete.
As we open this bridge, a state of the art bridge is under construction in Mankele. The people of Mankele will by March 2011 have a state of the art bridge to cross the Olifants River. People of that area have been subjected to Sewayawaya to cross the river, an exercise that was dangerous especially on school going children, but also compromised the quality of life the people.
To them we say their long wait is nearing an end. This will be the best thing to happen in the history of constructing bridges after the Nelson Mandela Bridge in Johannesburg. This project cost the government well over R45 Million, and we say this is money worth investing to ensure that it benefits and improves the quality of life for our people.
Let me conclude by saying: speed kills, use the roads responsible and cross when it is safe to do so. During night wear visible clothing we don’t want to count you amongst the statistics on road fatalities. Let’s all Arrive Alive this festive season!
I thank you
Source: Limpopo Department of Roads and Transport
Issued by: Limpopo Roads and Transport
9 Dec 2010
[ Top ]