The lives of villagers from Mvezo and Lundondolo in the Eastern Cape will never be the same, once the Nkosi Dalibhungu Mandela Legacy Bridge is completed.
When finished, the bridge will connect the village of Mvezo - the birthplace of former President Nelson Mandela - in the King Sabata Dalindyebo Municipality to the Lundondolo village on the other side of the Mbhashe River.
It will also link up to the new 10 kilometre tarred road that will connect Mvezo with the N2, reducing the distance between this area and East London, Mthatha and Idutywa by more than 50 kilometres.
When the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, Gugile Nkwinti, visited the area in April to monitor the progress of the bridge, he was happy to find that it was on the verge of completion.
Built by local contractors, the 140-metre long bridge is situated on the Mbhashe River of the Mbhashe Local Municipality in the former Transkei.
Minister Nkwinti initiated the project in 2010, to improve the lives of the people of Mvezo and Lundondolo, who had to travel several hours to get to town in Idutywa.
The historical village of Mvezo will now act as a catalyst for economic activities and improve access to services including electricity, water, flush toilets, roads, entertainment, sport centres, shopping centres, schools and agricultural production.
The entire project has cost more than R120 million. The bridge is scheduled to be completed before the end of the year.
Minister Nkwinti said that the construction of the bridge had created more than 130 employment opportunities. The project has opened doors for more projects by government to uplift these communities.
Prince Mandla Mandela and Prince Xolilizwe Sigcau accompanied the Minister during the visit. Prince Mandela acknowledged the progress that had been made by the community in gaining skills and accessing employment opportunities.
He added that if the water resource in the area was used effectively, agricultural projects could be a useful means to improve the lives of people.
*Tabita Ngqunge works for GCIS in the Eastern Cape.