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JG Afrika helps Zambian Road Development Agency develop a sophisticated bridge-maintenance strategy

JG Afrika

A joint venture between JG Afrika and Kiran & Musonda Associates (KMA), is working closely with the Zambian Road Development Agency (RDA) to validate its inventory of bridges and related structures, as well as to inspect and appraise their condition.

Kobus Burger, a technical director at JG Afrika, says that the project, which encompasses Zambia’s entire core road network, counting all trunk, main, district, feeder and urban roads, commenced in June this year and is on track for completion by December 2018, well ahead of the actual project deadline of June 2019.

“This assignment involves about 4 000 structures, including the rubble masonry crossings that were constructed as early as the 1920s. The average life of the bridges serving the core road network is about 40 years, and these complement those that continue to be built by the RDA since 2012,” Burger says.

The first component of the project entails locating all of the structures on the new database to verify and update this information where necessary. This includes corroborating the type of structures and their exact global-positioning co-ordinates on the country’s core road network.

The engineers then inspect the condition of the bridges, recording and photographing all structural defects, as well as rating the urgency of the remedial action.

RDA engineers are immediately notified of structures that may not be safe for road users.
Importantly, Burger says the new bridge-management system will provide the roads authority with an accurate indication of the real costs associated with maintaining and repairing the structures.

By the time that KMA and JG Afrika have completed the project, their teams will have travelled throughout Zambia, including extremely remote rural areas of the country.

Ensuring the safety and security of their teams while working and camping at the various sites is a priority, and one of the most challenging facets of the entire project.

Wildlife, including carnivores and large animals, pose a real threat in many of these areas. As a precautionary measure, the RDA’s provincial managers are given advance notice of the inspection teams within their province. It was also decided that it would be safer for both teams to work together in the same province.

Both teams comprise representatives from KMA and JG Afrika. They are self-sufficient and have been equipped with rugged off-road utility vehicles that are able to challenge extremely arduous terrain.

Certainly, representatives of KMA’s familiarity with much of the terrain and their fluency in local languages, such as Bemba and Nyanja, have also played an important role in the excellent progress made thus far.

The teams started working in Lusaka Province and within very close proximity to KMA’s headquarters and, by mid-August, were making their way to the Southern Province as part of an early trial phase.

Once they have successfully completed their operations there, they will determine which of the remaining seven provinces of the country they will visit next, while working to a strict deadline that also takes into consideration the wet season in Zambia.

Burger concludes that he is impressed with the performance of both teams, describing the engineers as “adventurous” and “wild-spirited”, and says that they are also enjoying every opportunity to undertake important work in a country that is renowned for its scenery, including its beautiful rivers and bridges.