A joint venture of Portugal’s Mota-Engil and South Africa-based engineering company Concor Holdings Ltd. has won a $118-million contract for the construction of South Africa’s longest-span cable-stayed suspension bridge.

The bridge, with a span of 580 meters, is being built by state-owned South African National Roads Agency SOC Ltd. (Sanral) over the 195-m-deep Msikaba gorge. It will be the second longest in Africa after the 680-m-long Maputo-Catembe bridge, which is also under construction. It is expected to be completed in 36 months and will create about 8,000 jobs during the construction period.

The joint venture was selected in the second round of tendering for the project after Sanral scrapped the first bid because of “non-compliance with tender rules and regulations and some bids received being higher that the available budget.”

Sanral is constructing the Msikaba bridge as part of the 560-kilometer two-lane N2 Wild Coast Road project connecting East London in Eastern Cape with Durban in Kwazulu Natal. At least 80%, or 470 km, of the job entails rehabilitation and upgrading of the existing road surface, while the remaining 90 km will be greenfield construction.

The completed project will improve travel time between Durban and East London by three hours, especially for heavy freight, and open up for economic development isolated sections of the route that have not been served by any road infrastructure.

Sanral has said in a project brief that construction of the Msikaba bridge faces the challenge of a rugged topography and the ecologically sensitive system associated with the Msikaba river system. The bridge’s four lanes will be 3.7 m wide and have surfaced shoulders that are 2.5 m wide.

The contractor will, however, taper back from the bridge’s widened cross-section to standard N2 Wild Coast Road specifications of two lanes with surfaced shoulders that are 3 m wide.

This is the second N2 Wild Coast Road bridge project, after the $80-million Mtentu Bridge was awarded to Aveng Strabag JV last year. Construction commenced January 2018 and will conclude by May 2021.