Bridges of size

Bridges of size

Controversial Sanral CEO Nazir Alli has retired, to be succeeded by former fellow board member Skhumbuzo Macozoma. As a welcoming gift,  John Clarke offers a story for him to ponder …

The story starts by calling to mind Sydney harbour bridge, in which Australians take great pride because of its grand design – and because it is so huge. Bill Bryson in his book Down Under describes the structure: “From a distance it has a kind of gallant restraint, majestic but not assertive, but up close it is all might. It soars above you, so high that you could pass a ten-storey building beneath it, and looks like the heaviest thing on earth. Everything that is in it – the stone blocks in its four towers, the latticework of girders, the metal plates, the six-million rivets (with heads like halved apples) – is the biggest of its type you have ever seen... This is a great bridge.”

The bridge finally opened on 19  March 1932. At 505 metres, it was aiming to become the largest single- span-arch bridge in the world. Alas, just before the ceremonial cutting of the ribbon, Bryson wryly records that “the Bayonne bridge in New York quietly opened and was found to be 6.35cm – 0.121% longer.”

This story is told mainly for the benefit of Mr Skhumbuzo Macozoma, the man appointed to take charge of the South African National Roads Agency Ltd, (Sanral) to replace its long-serving founder, CEO Nazir Alli. 

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