Landmark bridge given a historical make-over

One of the oldest steel bridges in Nelson Mandela Bay has been given a long overdue makeover by the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality after it was found to be structurally unsafe and a danger to motorists.

On Monday the Swartkops Bridge was relaunched, having gone through a meticulous transformation that has seen its lifespan extended by 15 to 20 years.

The bridge was originally built in 1879 and reconstructed in 1974.

“The municipality recently took a decision to refurbish the structure to prevent it from rusting further and possibly collapsing,” said Executive Mayor Athol Trollip.

Trollip said all the badly rusted steel has been removed and replaced with new material, and the remainder of the bridge has been sandblasted, primed and painted in colours that will be visible from the N2, as the bridge is a landmark in the metro.

Speaking at the relaunch Trollip praised the company responsible for the refurbishment

“You’ve turned this bridge into a significant landmark and have done it in record time, which should be important in government. This river (Swartkops) is the lung of the city and is currently in a bad state, we need to clean it up. We look to our young professionals for innovative ideas in dealing with this river.”

“We are aware of economic and recreational significance of the river. Thus, we appeal to metro residents to understand that we will work on it.”

The bridge is an entry and exit point to Swartkops, and as such, plays a significant role for both business and the community at large. It is also a popular spot for fishermen who use the structure as a shelter during their fishing excursions.

Tourism plays a crucial role in growing an economy which is why the Municipality has embarked on a programme of refurbishing iconic landmarks and facilities. This will hopefully attract more and more tourists to our shores. This is one of many transformative strategies the municipality is embarking on to reposition the metro as one of the iconic cities in South Africa.