15 Jun Overcoming Obstacles from Tetyana to Sitebe Komkulu
As a multidisciplinary civil engineering construction company with experience in delivering complex projects, we were confident in our capacity to take on the upgrading of the National Route N2, Section 18, from Tetyana (KM24) to Sitebe Komkulu (KM41) – a project worth R650 million.
Coming forward with the lowest tender price as well as a reputation for delivering quality work within the allocated budget and time, SANRAL awarded us the 30-month Project.
THE SCOPE OF WORK
The N2, Section 18 project encompassed the following engineering efforts:
- Road widening and re-construction to improve the level of service to road users
- Improved auxiliary lanes
- Geometric improvements to the existing alignment
- Taxi Embayment’s where required
- Geometric safety improvements at intersections and accesses
- The reconstruction of 5 No. major culverts, widening of Candu River bridge and refurbishment of the Mbashe River Bridge
- Replacing all road furniture such as guardrails and road signs etc.
- Construction of agricultural underpasses (4 No)
- Construction of a pedestrian bridge
- Construction of pedestrian walkways
- Community access roads that link traffic from villages to the upgraded intersections
Starting in September 2016 and ending in April 2019, the improvements to National Route took place over a 3-year period – 32 months to be exact, which was just 2 months over the stipulated tender period for which we were granted extension of time.
Ultimately the Bulk Earthworks component resulted in 1 475 000 cubic meters of earth being moved with over 1 000 000 cubic meters of that material having to be blasted.
We believe we delivered a top-quality product to our employer and trust that we have left behind a legacy that will ultimately enhance the safety of the road user and public.
Considering the many obstacles that we encountered within the duration of this project, it is a delivery that the team can be proud of.
Overcoming Major Challenges
The largest unforeseen challenge encountered was when major slippages occurred in the Mthenthu cutting. These emanated between KM40.2 to KM40.6 and posed substantial safety and constructability challenges in relation to the final location of the road prism.
During the construction various slope slips occurred which, in the end, resulted in the road alignment being shifted away from the slope face. GIBB Geotechnical Engineers (Gibb Consulting Engineers oversaw the Contract), conducted a slope stability analysis and compiled a report and recommendations on the cutting slope stability improvements which was reviewed thoroughly.
To solve the problem, it was decided to change the alignment of the road and move it away from the cut face in the affected area. A stepped fill of 10 high at a 1:1 slope was constructed to stabilize the toe of the cut face. Banks were constructed against the slip slopes with drop zones to stabilise the situation. In addition, shotcrete was also applied to certain areas. This resulted in a delay and extension of time.
Training was an additional hurdle which we encountered during this project. A total of 13 contractors were appointed for CDP work. Of these, 11 were 1 CE CIDB Registered, and as such were very inexperienced with very little knowledge and experience in the work that they were contracted to do.
Despite formal training prior to the commencement of this project and continual input of our SMME Manager on the job, the CDP contractors were battling to both produce work of an acceptable quality and to work productively and efficiently to maintain programmed outputs and to realise a profit.
This issue was addressed and it was suggested, in light of the fact that there were not any further formal courses available, that the following steps be implemented:
- In-house training by experienced Rumdel staff, seconded to the CDP contractors, would be provided.
- Rumdel Site Agents would make themselves available on a regular basis for meetings with the CDP Contractors to discuss and monitor the programme as well as ways to work more efficiently and monitor costs and income in order to maximise profits.
After putting 11 of our skilled and experienced staff to the task of training, the results were almost immediately evident with both production rates and quality improving dramatically as well as programme dates being adhered to. We certainly hope to see more provisions being made for this type of in-house training in future!
Despite additional training being required, the cutting issues faced and limited budget, Rumdel Contract Manager, David Howell and Site Agents, Craig and Alistair De Lacy, took each obstacle in their stride and came up with effective solutions to ensure that Rumdel’s reputation for high-quality workmanship and delivery time was upheld. We are proud to note that an estimated 500 jobs were created as a result of this project and are glad that we could play a part in equipping the South African labour force – if only a small part of it – with practical experience and higher-level skills.