June 02, 2021

Constructing MR 118 in harmony with the Namib’s flora and fauna

The design and construction management of Main Road 118 (MR 118) by SMEC’s Namibian subsidiary, VKE Namibia, stands out as a project that resulted in a remarkably aesthetic road in harmony with the extraordinarily beautiful landscape that is the vast Namib Desert.

The design and construction management of Main Road 118 (MR 118) by SMEC’s Namibian subsidiary, VKE Namibia, stands out as a project that resulted in a remarkably aesthetic road in harmony with the extraordinarily beautiful landscape that is the vast Namib Desert.

Undeterred by a fast-tracked schedule and the notoriously unforgiving geography of the MR 118 route, which runs through wind-swept gravel plains, rough mountainous country and shifting sand dunes, careful consideration was given to the project’s environmental impact.

Despite what may seem a landscape devoid of flora and fauna, there are 776 types of plant life within the Sperrgebiet area, with 234 being native to Southwest Namibia. In an effort to mitigate the construction footprint, the contractor ensured that sensitive flora, such as the Sarcocaulon Marlothii (Bushman Candle), were re-established in safe areas or left untouched. Borrow pits were trimmed and finished off to the point of invisibility and every slope was raked by hand. What’s more, with many of the remaining wild ostriches of Africa living in the Namib Desert, warning signs and speed limit reduction measures were implemented along the route in an effort to educate the public on the risk of wild animals crossing the road.

Aside from flora and fauna protection, ancient rock engravings along the route were demarcated for protection and road alignment was adjusted to avoid each of the sites. In addition, supervisors and the contractor went the extra mile to limit unnecessary wastage and repair any spillage of fuels, oils and construction products.


Sarcocaulon marlothii (The Bushman Candle) & raking by hand


Protection of rock engravings


Ostriches: Catered for with warning signs and reduced speed limit


Kilometre 57: A geometrical paean


The Namib terrain

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