R33 bridge — Reconstruction or not?

The Merriespruit Bridge on the R33 Road between Vaalwater and Lephalale has been part of many discussions since the floods in 2014. Since the floods the bridge has not been repaired properly – instead an alternative “bridge” was constructed next to the road. Last year the road on this alternative bridge was even tarred.
Motorists and community members were worried that the bridge was never going to be fixed.
Apart from the inconvenience, this temporary arrangement has led to many car accidents – almost on a daily basis.
Ms Desire van der Walt from the DA recently questioned the Minister of Transport about the fixing of the Merriespruit Bridge.
Question: What is the total 2014 flood damage to the R33 road and bridge between Lephalale and Vaalwater and were any funds allocated for the flood damage by national or provincial departments?
Why has the bridge near Vaalwater on this main road to Lephalale not yet been rebuilt, when will the road and bridge be fixed and what is the total cost to rebuild the bridge and road?
Answer: The total damages from the 2014 floods on both the R33 Road (formerly P198/1) and Merriespruit Bridge were estimated at R23m as per the initial assessment and final verification.
No funds were made available for National Department; funds were made available to Limpopo Provincial Roads for temporary (Emergency Funds) and permanent (Reconstruction and Rehabilitation) restoration of access.
Emergency funds were made available immediately and the road was repaired by patching the potholes and resealing. The pipe culvert bridge was erected to restore access on the washed-away Merriespruit Bridge, with assistance of the private sector. Reconstruction and rehabilitation funds were only made available to the province as part of Provincial Road Maintenance Grant over an MTEF period, from the 2015/16 financial year.
The bridge has not been built due to the fact that during 2014, the road P198/1 was part of the list of roads to be transferred from the then Limpopo Provincial Department of Road and Transport to SANRAL and the transfer was finalized after flood damages.
The road now belongs to SANRAL in terms of Notice 538 of National Gazette No 37815 and SANRAL is finalizing their assessment which has already revealed that an additional two bridges might be reconstructed on the R33.
SANRAL, upon taking over the road, preferred to standardize the bridge and the road accordingly, and the process entailed commissioning a new design of the infrastructure and a budgeting process to cover the standard of design.
Other processes include the application of environmental authorization.
The road has been repaired to a relatively required standard while the plan to fix the bridge has been finalized. The road is also monitored and maintained on a constant basis by SANRAL.
The construction of the bridge is planned to start in October 2017 and the process is scheduled to take about 14 months. The bridge will be completed by January 2019 if things go according to plan. The project steering committee has also been established, specifically for the road and the bridge, to monitor and establish possible measures to fix the bridge and the road, while also fostering road safety.
The total cost to fix the bridge has not been established but will be determined through the final design report which is expected by 15th May 2017.

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