The question arose recently – What will South Africa’s infrastructure look like in twenty years hence. Well, it is hard to say. There are three ways with which to predict the future. One, is to take cognizance, of what happened in the past “History” – One damn thing after another, AND, two is “Mathematical Probability”, AND, three “Common Sense”. I am basing my predictions on an infrastructure reconnaissance survey I personally carried out in Southern DRC (previously Zaire) in November 1997. The DRC, gained its independence, and majority government, officially around 1962. But the Belgians in Congo, Zaire had given up quite a few years before that, maybe as early as 1955. So, for arguments sake, I can safely say, the deterioration due to partial neglect took root around 42 years prior to my survey, followed by full neglect after independence, and majority government rule in 1962. That is 35 years prior to my survey in 1997.
Now, South Africa has had an independent Majority government for 22 years up to now (2016). That leaves another 13 years before South Africa’s infrastructure arrives at the same state as that of DRC’s, at the time of my survey. This is purely mathematical, and assumes an equation of similar circumstances in South Africa and DRC, which there was not.
The DRC had a few coups early in their independent, and majority rule, causing quite a bit of distraction. On the other hand South Africa had no similar distractions. As can be seen in some of these photographs the Belgian’s workmanship with regard to infrastructure, was pretty damn good, and built to last, but not without maintenance. The white South African minority government, also built pretty good stuff, meant to last, but again, not without maintenance. The Congo / DRC is a much larger land area than South Africa, and therefor resources and communications were stretched further. The Congo /DRC’s wet tropical climate may have contributed to the deterioration of infrastructure, but the Belgian engineers would have known about this in the first place, and designed accordingly. So it is all checks, counter-checks, and balances. I think the case for the mathematics holds up.
Here is what South African infrastructure will look like in 13 years from now (2016).
The Lungeshi temporary accord area is situated south of and adjacent to, the L’umpemba National Park in Katanga Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo – previously the Shaba Province of Zaire. The area is traversed by the road commencing at Lubudi and passing though Beke, Kasari Luswaka, Kalera, Mamba and Makuna (see attached map). The reconnaissance was carried out by road over two different time periods, in October and November 1997. These periods being the beginning of the wet season.
The objective was to record the position and condition of various features to determine the best way to get people, vehicles and equipment into the accord area and to decide on a base camp location. The survey was to include photographs to familiarise Personnel with vegetation and topography. Particular attention was given to roads, bridges, and railway facilities.
The first trip started from Lumbumbashi during October 1997, passing through Likasi, Guba, Fungurume and Tenke. From the turnoff near Tenke the road is roughly parallel to the railway and is in effect a railway service road heading north to Kansenia. A distance of 54km by road at an average speed of 25km /hour. The first part of this road is satisfactory but generally below ground level. The surface has been laterite but is mostly gone now. Further north potholes have developed and there is evidence of short tree logs having been used to help remove stuck motor vehicles. From 10km south of Kasenia the countryside is open plains with deep cohesionless sand and sections of black mud. It is hard to tell what driving conditions would be like here after heavy rain. There appears to be intensive cattle farming areas to the West of Kansenia. The railway track is in very good order at Kansenia road/rail crossing. The altitude here is I 670m Above Mean Sea Level (AMSL) but about 10km to the east of Kansenia there is an escarpment at the bottom of which is at 1 440m AMSL. Here stands a large Catholic Mission surrounded by a village and extensive farming lands. The bridge over the stream at the mission village is made of steel rail sleepers supported by lightweight rails. This bridge would not support heavy vehicles such as drill rigs (see Photo B-20).
About 26km east of the Kansenia Escarpment there is another bridge constructed of rail reinforced concrete but the deck is breaking up badly (see Photo B-29). The abutments are in good order but the deck will have to be rebuilt. Suitable logs could be cut nearby. In this vicinity there are many culverts with stone-pitched walls the makeshift decks, the use of rails, sleepers and logs is common (This makes one wonder about the Railway’s permanent way in more isolated areas). I suspect driving here would be very difficult in the wet season and too risky for truck mounted drilling equipment. A lot of work would have to be done to the road culverts and run off drains. From Kansenia to the intersection with the main Guba to Lubudi road is 50 km by road, and apart from the escarpment is in a valley between mountain ranges and subject to standing water.
The main road north of this “T” Junction point has a good laterite surface with evidence of regular borrow pits on either side along the road. However, as the reconnaissance trip proceeded along this road to the north (to Lubudi) it was seen that potholes were well developed where laterite surface had broken up and there is evidence of many stuck vehicles (see Photo C-I).
There is a single span double lattice girder bridge about 13 km north of the “T” Junction intersection which is structurally sound but the deck is a combination of different components. It is safe for ordinary 4x4s but would need attention before drilling rigs could safely use it. The main structure of the bridge is sound (see Photos C-2 and C-3).
The bridge shown in Photographs C- 14 and C-I5 are typical of other bridges in the area i.e. reinforced concrete poured between ~ Beams usually with kerbs broken off as shown on the photographs. In most cases, these bridges are structurally sound, but should receive remedial work if continued heavy traffic is intended.
From this bridge the road climbs up the escarpment again onto the Lubudi Plateau, the mountain range of the L’upemba National Park is visible (see Photo C-16 and typical road on Photo C-17). The road reaches high ground about 15 km southeast of Lubudi and continues with a lot of standing water in potholes which is often deeper than it first appears, Photo C-18 is typical.
Lubudi is 101 km by road from the “T” Junction intersection. Altitude is 1 370m AMSL. Lubudi has been a thriving railway and industrial town. Most of the buildings and equipment is still there but no longer in use. The cement factory (C.I.M.) is running at about 20% capacity. The central business district consists of one street with a few operating shops and houses. No service station. The railway goods and passenger stations are in working order but there are no cranes or lifting devices to be seen. Lubudi gives the impression that it is capable of industrial growth should the need arise.
Photographs D-10 and D-11 show a good panoramic view of edge of
Lubudi escarpment and L’upemba Mountains in the background.
This overlooks part of the temporary accord area. From Lubudi the reconnaissance trip returned directly to Guba, a distance of I45 km by road. This road is generally satisfactory for ordinary 4x4s. Attention will be given to some of the bridges on the second leg of the Lungeshi Reconnaissance.
This reconnaissance trip left Lubumbashi and traveled through Likasi to Lwambo (Luambo on map) 20km by road north of Likasi and turned off to the north on the Mitwaba road (see Photo of turn-off K-I7). For the first 51 km this road is in good order. The laterite surface is mostly intact. There had been recent rain but standing water is minimal and only 5O mm to 75 mm deep. Laterite borrow pits are obvious and frequent up to this point. Average speed in the Landrover is 35 km/hour. Photograph K-19 is typical of road conditions here. An overnight stop was made 51 km north of Lwambo. See Photo K-21 showing typical countryside.
The reconnaissance trip continued onto the village of Bunkeya. This is a large village with two big churches, a I,2 km main street and plenty of markets. The local people in this area are very helpful and friendly. There is only a very small military presence. The general area appears to be devoted to commercial farming, both cattle and crops. The village of Bunkeya is 62 km by road north of Lwambo.
Note: The spelling of Bunkeya could be difference at the village (see Photo K-22 overlooking the village.
For the next 50 kms north of Bunkeya the road is subsiding in many places, potholes and standing water, slow driving down to 14 km/hour, however, there is no risk of getting stuck with either 4×4 or 6×6 drill truck (see Photo K-28) typical standing water and logbog. Taken 33 km north of Bunkeya. There are several lattice girder Bailey bridges on this 50 km section of road, all of which are in need of some spare parts and repairs. Photo K-26 shows a typical Bailey bridge.
The village of Dikulwe is 113 km by road north of Lwambo and on the Dikulwe River, it is an agriculturally productive village, inside the Mining temporary accord area. There is a multi-span bridge built of stone and concrete piers, which are starting to collapse. The deck has been repaired several times and is satisfactory for the present, however this bridge should be inspected from time to time. In fact a program for remedial work on this bridge should be initiated now (see photographs K-30 and K-31).
From the bridge and village of Dikulwe it is 34 kms by road to the “T” Junction intersection of the road to the west to Kalera, Luswaka, Kasari and Lubudi. This 34km of road is in very good order; the average speed in the Landrover is 55-60 km/hour. (Photograph L-1 is typical of this section of road and was taken 9km north of Dikulwe.
The reconnaissance trip continued to the Lufira River at the village of Mamba. This is a distance of 22kms by road. On this section of road there is a two span single lattice girder Bailey bridge on good centre pier and abutments (see photograph L-5). However, the bridge does require some additional diagonal girder supports and bolts. The bridge at the Lufira River is a concrete multi-arch structure in good order (see Photo L-8 and
L-9). There will be no problem with this bridge. There appears to be a waterfall or rapids about 1,5 km downstream from the arch bridge, probably where it is joined by the Luvilombo River (see Photo L-10).
Continuing north from Mamba and the arch bridge for 5 kms the road is completely destroyed by wheel track erosion and only detours are in use. At about 6 kms from the river the road returns to normal but is very bad and gets worse with subsidence, standing water and “log-bogs”. The reconnaissance trip stopped I8 kms by road north of Mamba as this was near the Northern Boundary of the temporary accord area. Position S. 9 22′ 42″ E. 27 07′ 02″. See photographs L-I4, looking north and L-15 looking east with the Kundelungu Plateau visible in the background. The reconnaissance trip at this point turned around and returned to the “T” Junction 40 km to the south.
At the “T” Junction intersection (which turned out to be a crossroad) the reconnaissance decided to investigate the minor road to the east. This road was satisfactory for approximately IOkm, then deteriorated to wet black mud for a further 5 km (see Photo L- 17) to the village of Katala. Katala is a farming village on the river Dikuiwe. These is no vehicle crossing at the river. The reconnaissance returned to main Mitwaba road “T”junction, then continued in a westerly direction on the road to Lubudi.
Note: Katala is outside of the accord area.
The first major village on this road is Kalera about 7 km by road west of the “T” junction on the Mitwaba Road. The bridge across the Luvilombo River is a cause of great concern (see photographs L-I9 and L-21), it is very flimsy and the stacked log centre pier and abutments are collapsing. It was later reported that an alternate handmade crossing exists further up-steam. This crossing was inspected on foot in near dark conditions. It was found to be knee deep with a soft bottom. The approach ramps have been cut at a fairly flat slope and at present are satisfactory for ordinary 4x4s and trucks. However during the rainy season with an increase in water depth and wet ramps it could be impassable. The bridge in this case should be completely rebuilt.
About 10 km west of Kalera (15 km west of Mitwaba Road), the reconnaissance investigated farming activities south of the road and on the banks and floodplains of the Luvilombo River. Maize and Cassava are grown intensively in various areas along the river. Photograph M-8 is typical of the area 20 km by road west of Mitwaba Road. Photograph M-13 is typical of thick forest and rarely used road 31 km west of Mitwaba Road.
The road from Kalera for a distance of 56 km to the village of Kyanena is mostly through well-drained forest. The stream and river crossings have no bridges but have hard rock bottoms and will present no risk for 4x4s and 6×6 trucks. The river at Kyanena has a very nice bridge (see Photo N-3) but no approaches have been constructed. The handmade crossing of the Luvilombo River is about 2 km up-stream (see Photo N-4), has a hard bottom and is no problem at present.
At a point on the road 72 km from the “ T” junction, to a point on the road 82 km from the “T” junction (a distance of 10 kms) is a badly drained black mud vlei area. This would be very risky after prolonged rain. In fact this area appears to be the midpoint for road transport to and from this vicinity.
Note: Road transport to the east of this mud area, use the Mitwaba Road back to Likasi and road transport to the west use the Lubudi / Guba Road.
Continuing to travel west, once out of the mud area the road has a very good laterite surface with regular borrow pits in evidence. There are one or two short mud sections on this part of the road but could easily be avoided or remedied. Photograph N-10 shows a good bridge and laterite road surface. This good road continues to Kasari, a village with a Catholic Mission and market. See photograph N-13 to N-16. Kasari is about 5 km off the Lubudi / Guba Road, this junction is marked by the signpost seen on photograph N-17 and called Beke.
The road from Lubudi to Guba was inspected earlier with the following additions :
- The reconnaissance trip found the west end of the Kagombo to Bunkeya Road and followed it for 2 km. It is unused by motor vehicles and the stream crossings that were found proved to be too dangerous to cross and any further inspection of this road was abandoned. It is not in the Mining temporary accord area.
- At a distance of 21 km by road south of Kagombo a standard reinforced concrete and “I” Beam bridge has suffered further damage (see Photo 0-4 and 0-5). There is subsidence behind both abutments and indications are that they have moved and are not fully supporting the deck. This is a dangerous situation and repairs would have to take place before drilling rigs could cross this bridge safely. Repairs would involve deck, abutments and road works.
- At a distance of 25 km by road south of Kagombo there is another standard reinforced concrete and ”I ” Beam bridge which although safe at present is showing signs of breaking up similarly to the bridge mentioned in Item 2 above.
- The railways from Lubumbashi to Lubudi appear to be in reasonable order and could be used to transport fuel and material to Lubudi. Containers would have to be emptied by hand as there is no lifting equipment there. Other items such as fuel drums and camp equipment could be railed to Lubudi. The overall condition of rail tracks is in some doubt, evidenced by the obvious excessive use of rail components on road bridges, fence posts, even on crude residential and commercial buildings.
- The best road route to Lubudi, Beke and Luswaka would be via Guba, while the best road route to Mamba and Kalera would be via Lwamba and Bunkeya to avoid the soft mud conditions east of Luswaka.
- The local people in this area are very helpful and friendly. Discussions with them are always pleasant and informative.
- It should be noted that some features co-ordinated by G.P.S. plot out of position on this map and may also plot out of position on other maps.
- It is recommended that two base camps be established to avoid driving across the soft black mud area near Luswaka. One base camp should be in or near Kasari (See photos C-I 4 and C-I 5) and the other base camp should be situated in or near Kalera. Both of these villages have good rivers and pleasant surroundings.
- A secure warehouse should be established in Lubudi to receive heavy items such as drums of petrol and diesel that would be railed from Lubumbashi.
- It is recommended that local village people be recruited to clear grass, bushes and trees away from the roads and to repair the roads as well as it is possible by hand, to make safer, and speed up driving on the roads.
- It will be necessary to repair, replace or modify at least six bridges in the temporary accord area before serious exploration can take place. This should be carried out by making use of a local contractor such as Swanepoel or Forrest. The roads and bridges must be capable of supporting a 23 ton drilling rig truck.
Report compiled by: _____________________
For any additional information, please contact me at any of the following number
Telephone No. : 27 82 553 8552 Cell
|Typical log bog north of “T” Junction at km 356|
|Deck of double girder bridge at km 369|
|Deck of double girder bridge at km 369|
|Bridge at km 422|
|Bridge at km 422|
|Looking North East from Lubudi escarpment road|
|Escaprment road to Lubudi|
|Typical high ground road on Lubudi escarpment|
|View South East from Lubudi escarpment|
|Panoramic View South East from Lubudi escarpment|
|“T” Junction at Lwambo km 0,0|
|Typical standing water on Mitwaba road at km 33|
|View overlooking Burkeya village at km 59|
|Bailey bridge at km 66|
|Typical standing water at km 92 to km 96|
|Multispan bridge at km 113
Note various patch up methods
|Multispan bridge at km 113
Note various patch up methods
|Km 122 Typical road and vegitation|
|Two span Bailey bridge at km 168|
|Arch bridge over Luara river at km 169|
|Arch bridge over Luara river at km 169|
|Looking down stream from arch bridge at km 169.
There appears to be a waterfall 1,5 km down stream
|Village at Mamba|
|On Mitwaba road at 5.9° 22” 42” looking north|
|On Mitwaba road at 5.9° 22” 42” looking east to the Kundelungu|
|Typical low lying road at about E.27° at Katala|
|Rickety bridge at km 264 near the village of Kalera|
|Stacked log abutments and centre pier at Rickety bridge at km 264|
|Typical road 1 km past village|
|Typical rarely used road at km 289.
Jim Morris on right of road
|Km 330. Steel bridge with no road at village of Kyanena|
|The inuse river crossing at Kyanena. Km 330|
|Bridge with “I” beam and sleeper deck at km 368|
|Km 390. Village and church at Kasari|
|Main street and bridge at Kasari|
|“T” Junction at Beke|
|Km 478. S.10° 23” 15” E.26° 26” 19” recent damage to bridge|
|Km 478 Close up of bridge damage|