Eastern Cape Mandela bridge project to be launched
The Nelson Mandela Legacy Bridge and River Valley project will be launched in Mvezo in the Eastern Cape on Wednesday, the department of rural development said.
The project involves the building of a bridge over the Mbashe river and 10km of tarred road.
The road will link Mvezo, the hometown of former president Nelson Mandela, with the N2 and cut the travelling distance to East London, Mthatha and Dutywa.
President Jacob Zuma arrived at 10am for the launch, his spokesman Mac Maharaj said.
The department was funding the bridge, which it said had so far seen an investment of R127 million, and the Eastern Cape department of roads and public works was funding the road.
Several other government departments and private sector companies were also involved. "The bridge and the road will serve as economic catalysts in the area," the department said in a statement.
The bridge was 53 percent complete, and was expected to be finished by January 2013.
Mvezo is a small village on the banks of the Mbashe River, described by the rural development department as a "relatively poor village, largely depending on subsistence farming".
Donkeys are commonly used there and in nearby Ludondolo for various activities, including ferrying water from the Mbashe River.
The project started in September 2011 and had led to certain skills transfers that may empower local communities.
"One such intervention is the brickyard that has been established to provide high quality, high strength pavers that will be used as surfacing on the road," the department said.
"The surfaced access road will make it easier for the community to get their produce quicker and in good condition to Mthatha and surrounding markets."
At least 102 job opportunities were created, 18 of which were for women, the department said.