Saldanha Bay IDZ Development

Saldanha Bay IDZ Development

The development of land for investor occupation on the country’s first sector-specific special economic zone. The project included construction of internal roads, road rehabilitation, and the installation of services.

Client: Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone
Contract value: R277 million
Duration: 24 months
Completed: September 2020

Overview of the Project

Civils 2000 recently completed the development of land for investor occupation on the country’s first sector-specific special economic zone – the Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone (SBIDZ), on the West Coast, which could see a major boost to the economy in that region.

The Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone was designated a special economic zone (SEZ) in 2013 and was created with a specific target industry in mind – the oil & gas sector. Strategically located in Saldanha Bay, the deepest port in the southern hemisphere, the SBIDZ is targeted on the provision of specialist services to the oil and gas sector and with a rig and marine repair cluster and support services, will operate within a port “free zone” (customs clearance with streamlined administrative processes).

The SBIDZ is operated by the SBIDZ Licencing  Company and contracted Civils 2000 to undertake the development of a 55  Ha block of 330 Ha of Transnet-owned land to be developed at the port. The work includes upgrading existing services, infrastructure and the local road network, in anticipation of the expected growth in the region. Investors will be able to lease the land for up to 15 years, with a 15-year renewal option, subsidised through a government lease agreement.

Scope of Work

The project included construction of 3.3 km of internal roads providing access to the building plots, 1.2 km of road rehabilitation, and the installation of services(2.1 km of gravity sewers and 1.1 km of sewer rising mains, three pump stations, 3.8 km of water supply pipelines, road stormwater pipelines and detention ponds, electricity networks, and 11 kV MV switching stations and substations). In addition, with the expected utilisation of technology-driven industries, a state-of-the-art ICT network will also be installed.

But that is where the similarity to many other land development projects ends. Due to the anticipated heavy loads, the roads were constructed to heavy-duty standards with a minimum of 450mm road construction layers and the road geometry accommodating the wider turning swept-path of large trucks. A new roundabout was constructed linking the development to the existing road network. This roundabout required Civils 2000 to construct a temporary two-way bypass to minimise disruption to local traffic while the roadworks were completed.

Earthworks to construct the building platforms, where the investors’ buildings and infrastructure will be located, were completed in 2019 and entailed moving over 680,000 m3 of material. The earthmoving included excavation and crushing of strongly cemented calcrete encountered in the natural ground. Road layerworks were constructed using crushed calcrete and high quality material brought in from local quarries.

Challenges & Successes


While the construction work was reasonably straightforward it was not without challenges, especially for Civils 2000’s SHEQ Officer, Andre Ford. At the commencement of work on site, a portion of the 50 Ha involved the demolition of the Black Mountain Mining buildings and facilities, the removal of redundant electrical infrastructure and lighting, and taking up 1.0 km of railway lines running along the back of the Black Mountain Mining site. The buildings were lined with asbestos sheeting.  While initially of concern, the massive roof structure was removed without any contamination, incidents or injuries.

Another challenge for Civils 2000 was the requirement to continue to provide access to the existing local roads and facilities in the port for the fire station, especially while rehabilitating the existing road and constructing the roundabout. This was also achieved without any hitches.

While mentoring emerging contractors and upskilling the workforce was rewarding for all involved, it created some challenges for the Civils 2000 team because very few of the local labour force had been involved in a civil engineering project of this scale before. To overcome this the site management team included aspects aimed at educating/upskilling the local SMMEs and their workers on the statutory requirements and continued to assist them in being complaint and further develop their understanding, which can only help on future jobs.

Excavations for the sewer pump stations frequently encountered calcrete. The calcrete often required use of a montabert rock breaker to break it up before removal and crushing. However, once through the calcrete, the lower in-situ sand and low-lying nature of the site meant intrusion of water into the deep excavations created safety issues. Dewatering systems were installed and three pumps work 24 hours a day to drawdown the water level and provide a safe, dry working environment.


In addition to the economic and local opportunities generated by this project, there have been other positives. Civils 2000 works have developed an excellent working relationship with engineers WSP and this can be partly attributed to the use of BIM software on the contract. All correspondence, inspections, site photographs, and issues are all handled efficiently by all parties through real-time connection to Autodesk BIM Field software. All documents are able to be shared with the relevant parties instantly, creating a platform that encourages good communication and a team working environment. Possibly the most lasting contribution is the development of skills and the awareness among the local SMME contractors and labour force of engineering construction on a large scale and the importance of health and safety in construction and the need to protect the environment.

Local enterprises and skills development

Another of the major differences from other construction projects is attributed to the construction objectives of the special economic zone (SEZ). It is not surprising that a major focus of the construction project was to provide work opportunities, develop emerging contractors from the local community and contribute to skills development of the local workforce by not only providing work opportunities but through training. Adoption of labour-intensive construction methods was applied wherever appropriate. The contract required 80% of the project to be undertaken by local resources and 30% of that work by emerging contractors working under the emerging contractor Local Enterprise Development Programme (LED). The LED programme is aimed at improving SMME engineering and commercial knowledge, enhancing professional development and ultimately raising CIDB gradings. It is expected the LED programme will create a sustainable environment for development of the CIDB grades 2 to 4 CE contractors from the local community.

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