Plan to break gridlock

2010-10-22 00:00

BY Monday there will be a contingency plan in place to ease the traffic congestion in the northern suburbs.

City administrator Johann Mettler gave this undertaking yesterday morning after seeing first-hand the extent of the gridlock.

Over the past week The Witness has highlighted the city’s traffic crisis, with residents giving vent to their frustrations at being stuck in traffic for as much as an hour to cover a distance of less than eight kilometres.

A campaign to canvass ideas to ease the gridlock saw an overwhelming response in the pages of The Witness.

Ward councillor Mergan Chetty, whose election manifesto promises to address the traffic chaos, came in for a drubbing from the public.

He arranged an early morning site meeting at the corner of Royston Road and Manning Avenue yesterday. In attendance were Mettler, members of the turnaround team, Msunduzi officials and engineers of the construction team working on the Chota Motala interchange.

City officials have offered various reasons for why they cannot solve the traffic jams, but Mettler and intervention team member Pete van Dyk took one look at the vehicles crawling bumper to bumper and said, “We can come up with a plan.”

There were no officials from the municipality’s transport (roads) department present. They were summoned to the site by the administrator.

Mettler assured The Witness that officials from this department, with acting traffic chief Kwenza Khumalo and acting municipal manager Thokozani Maseko, will be working on a contingency plan.

He said the plan would be ready by the end of yesterday for implementation from Monday morning.

After assessing the traffic flow in Mountain Rise, the administrator was driven along Ohrtmann Road into New Greytown Road to show him how bumper-to-bumper traffic stretches through Raisethorpe and Allandale.

Mettler said the situation is unacceptable and he believes measures can be taken to ease the gridlock.

He acknowledged that the planned measures won’t solve the traffic crisis entirely, because the flow of traffic will improve only after the Chota Motala interchange is completed. However, he said, citizens will normally accept a certain level of inconvenience if they know that the authorities are making an effort to help them.

Early morning motorists looked on — forgiving the traffic disruption for once — as the officials criss-crossed Manning Avenue with maps unfurled and notepads in hand. Chetty got the thumbs-up from several motorists and he showed the SMSes sent to him while standing in the road. They read: “nice and effective”, “well done” and “thank you”.

The Witness also received its share of kudos from drivers and passengers and was inundated with calls. Most callers expressed gratitude that the week-long campaign of stories in the newspaper has had some results. One reader said: “If nothing else, at least the officials got out their offices to see first-hand what we go through every day.”


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