South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL)
Limpopo province, South Africa
The upgrade of 29.9km of road running from Polokwane to Strydomsloop includes adding wide surfaced shoulders, several intersection upgrades, passing lanes to improve capacity and safety, and an access management plan. It is anticipated that major rehabilitation of four bridges and the addition of Non-Motorised Transport walkways in Polokwane’s Central Business District will form part of the upgrade. Construction is expected to start mid-2024 and will take an estimated 24 months to complete.
The R521 is the only route for many Limpopo residents to get access to employment opportunities in Polokwane and the route also functions as a gateway to the unique bushveld biosphere in northern Limpopo. Improving the condition of this road will not only benefit local residents but also the tourism industry and cross-border traffic headed for Botswana.
Speaking on value-add Warren McLachlan, Professional Engineer, Roads and Highways, says that on previous projects, SMEC developed innovative strategies for optimising the implementation of passing lanes on two-lane highways to get the most congestion-relieving benefit out of the same total area of pavement. “These strategies and lessons learned on previous projects will be applied to this appointment to maximise the public’s benefit from this upgrade.”
SMEC South Africa’s involvement in this route dates back to the 1980s when it was involved in the implementation and maintenance of routes under the jurisdiction of the old Transvaal Provincial Administration’s Roads Branch.
The Tbilisi Development Fund has engaged SMEC to develop the Dighomi floodplain rehabilitation strategy. The Dighomi Floodplain is an area of special conservation interest, which includes riparian forest, protected Otter habitat and other unique flora and fauna ecosystems that have been assessed as critical by the International Finance Corporate Performance Standard.
SMEC has been contracted by Electricidade De Timor-Leste (EDTL) for the role of Project Supervision Consultants for the Power Distribution Modernisation Project in Timor-Leste. Supported by a loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the project aims to assist EDTL in modernising the country’s power distribution system and strengthening institutional capacity.
Geotechnics will play a key role in helping our society achieve a safe, prosperous and sustainable future. Recent droughts have resulted in a need for more dam design and construction. Recent rainfall has resulted in extensive slop failures impacting our roads, rail and urban infrastructure. Energy transformation is driving large scale solar, wind and pumped hydro construction. These projects will all require geotechnical input to future plan for our communities.
Richard Parsons, one of SMEC’s key leaders in Social Value and Engagement is presenting on their technical paper ‘Considering Social Impact Assessment from a public interest perspective - some critical questions’ at the Environmental Institute of Australia and New Zealand 2023 Impact Assessment Symposium in Canberra.