Billions pouring into KZN road network

2016-04-20 06:00
PHOTO: sourced  The road between Durban and Cedera is due for upgrades involving billions of rands.

PHOTO: sourced The road between Durban and Cedera is due for upgrades involving billions of rands.

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BILLIONS of rands are being poured into upgrading KwaZulu-Natal’s road network, with current investment in construction totalling R8.3 billion and R15 billion earmarked for the upgrading of the N3 from Durban to Cedara outside Pietermaritzburg.

On the N2 North Coast between Mtunzini and Mtubatuba, R1,4 billion will be spent widening the road from Mtunzini to Empangeni and to build interchanges at Eteza and Kwabhoboza.

Giving an overview of the major projects that the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) is embarking on in KZN, Logashri Sewnarain, Sanral’s Eastern Region manager, told stakeholders at a breakfast briefing in Pietermaritzburg that the agency was the engine room for infrastructure development and economic empowerment in the province.

She said during the 2014/15 financial year, 223 contracts worth R14.4 billion were awarded. A total of R2.9 billion was spent on SMMEs, with more than R1.7 billion going to 765 black-owned enterprises.

Training was given to 4064 people, of which 1694 were female, and 175 woman-owned construction companies were involved.

Sewnarain said several Sanral projects had won awards for excellence in construction, including the Chota Motala interchange, the Umgeni interchange, the KwaMashu interchange, Tshelimnyama pedestrian bridge and the Blackburn pedestrian bridge.

She said on the N3 between Durban and Pietermaritzburg, which is located within the Primary­ Growth Corridor identified in terms of the provincial spatial economic development strategy, major upgrading and realignment will be undertaken.

The road which carries up to 120 000 vehicles per day and in excess of 40 million tons of freight per annum, is coming under severe strain because of the high volume of heavy vehicles, steep gradients and limited capacity at specific locations.

“The importance of the Durban-Free State-Gauteng Freight Corridor has been reinforced by the country’s New Growth Path, National Development Plan and National Infrastructure Plan and has been prioritised for accelerated implementation in terms of the Strategic Integrated Projects to ensure capacity meets future demands.

“The project’s goal is to transform the economic landscape, create new jobs and strengthen delivery of basic services while tying up with port upgrade plans.”

Sewnarain said the N3 will see two and three lanes being added, resulting in an eight to 10-lane freeway over a distance of 84 kilometres.

There will be upgrading of 27 interchanges and 95 underpass-overpass bridges will need to be upgraded.

A ring road around Pietermaritzburg is also being investigated, as is a tunnel at Townhill. The Key Ridge stretch of the N3 will be realigned to reduce steep grades.

Preliminary designs have been completed and the detailed designs are being undertaken. Land acquisition and the environmental impact study have commenced.

Sewnarain said Sanral fully supports the Decade of Action for Road Safety call by the Commission­ of Global Road Safety, and endorsed by the United Nations Road Safety Collaboration.

Intended to curb carnage on the roads, the campaign was officially launched in May 2011, and has the primary goal of reducing road deaths by half by 2020.

She said Sanral has developed a tool, Netsafe, which assesses and quantifies road safety risk as a function of specific road features and the road environment. Sanral is also implementing various measures to reduce the chances of a serious injury or death resulting from road crashes.

Sanral has also, since inception, recognised that environmental management is an integral component of road infrastructure development and road management.

“A sustainable road network that meets the requirements of the people and the environment and the economy requires basic planning and innovation,” Sewnarain said.

She added there are no plans to introduce new tolls in KZN or e-tolling as in Gauteng.

“In Gauteng, we upgraded the road network and since it is a multi-lane free flow tolling system, gantries were erected to record the passage of vehicles and the transactions.

“This is not what is proposed for KZN where road users will have the choice between using manual lanes or automated lanes where the toll fee will be the same,” she said.

KZN MEC for Transport Willies Mchunu and KZN MEC for Economic Development Mike Mabuyakhulu­ welcomed the new automated Shesha lane at toll plazas as it saved time and did not incur any additional toll fees.

Mchunu said: “We had been properly informed by Sanral about the Shesha lane and we decided we cannot object because the lane adds choice.

“However, we stated that no further changes must be made at tolls without consultation. We discussed e-tolls and said that whatever happens in Gauteng must not be imported into KZN.

“If there are issues, they must be discussed with us.”

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