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Baakens bridge to officially open tonight

Construction of the 40-metre new generation materials composite bridge over the lower Baakens River has finally reached completion. This bridge project, which is part of the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality approved Baakens Valley Masterplan, aims to connect the inner city and the Baakens Valley area while enhancing the region with a specific landmark structure. Leadership from both the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, MBDA Board, various civil society and community interest groups are expected to grace the official opening tonight.

"The completion of this iconic landmark and strategic intervention in urban renewal is being completed at a time when the MBDA concluded a major organisational restructuring process as well as battling a lack of funding for 2019/20. The aim of restructuring the organisation was to ensure that we maximised capacity through a semi matrix structure between the key delivery departments that fall under operations, including, engineering, area management, creative industry, psychosocial officers, quantity surveyors, town rangers, SME mentors, community facilitators, facilities management, project managers and urban designers," says MBDA Spokesperson Luvuyo Bangazi.

"The local government financial cycle starts on 1July until 30 June, so November is the second month of quarter two, and the agency is still to receive grant funding for the year from the NMBM owing to an unsigned service delivery agreement.

"With all those challenges, the MBDA, through fiscal discipline, has been able to ride the storm, pay suppliers and small, medium and micro-enterprises, and still deliver world-class services to Nelson Mandela Bay," concluded Bangazi.

After many public engagements to solicit suggestions for the name of the bridge, residents have only a few hours to find out the outcome, after an independent panel of adjudicators deliberated on a suitable name for the bridge. This selection panel comprised Ward 5 Councillor, Sandile Rwexana, PR Councillor, Andries van der Westhuizen, South End Museum Administrator, Collin Abrahams, and Mr S Abraham, a community representative.

Bay citizens heeded the call and the response was overwhelming, with 222 submissions received. These ranged from sports heroes to historical, local and national icons.

Media representatives are invited to attend the official opening, which will take place from 5:30pm. Access to the event is via Fleming Street, linking the Baakens and Vuyisile Mini Square.

For more info and to RSVP, please contact Sindiswa Ximba on 060 504 1069.