Matongo Kabani, a doctoral student of the Concrete Materials and Structural Integrity Unit (CoMSIRU) at UCT’s Department of Civil Engineering, has been awarded the “Outstanding Student Engineering Award” from the International Heavy Haul Association (IHHA).
Under the supervision of Prof. Pilate Moyo, Matongo conducted research on how railway bridges behave under extremely heavy load and the implications thereof on service life predictions. He did a comprehensive live load assessment of the Olifants River Viaduct, located in Vredendal, Western Cape, South Africa. It is the longest bridge on the Sishen-Saldahna railway line and stretches over one kilometre. Here, infrastructure is being put to the test: The trains, transporting iron ore from the mine in the Northern Cape to the port of Saldahna, are up to 4,000 metres long and have an average axle load of 30 tons. Matongo investigated the interplay of loading regimes and dynamic effects on the bridge.
His work provides new insights into deterioration assessment, structural health monitoring and service life prediction for a range of bridge spans. “We found that, despite an increase over recent years, the current axle loading is within design requirements. However, some bridges can be prone to fatigue due to increased train lengths,” explains Matongo.
He adds with a smile: “I’m particularly proud of receiving this award as it puts UCT on the map in terms of doing research in railway. Other universities in South Africa do important work on components; we at UCT are concerned with the infrastructure, the big stuff.”
The Department of Civil Engineering is part of the Faculty of Engineering & the Built Environment (EBE) at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.