What do you think of the new red brick road? PMB motorists and pedestrians air their views …

2013-12-20 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG pedestrians and motorists were evenly split between either loving or hating the city’s new “red brick road” when they first used the re-opened street yesterday.

Following the long-awaited and much-delayed opening of the revamped, R18 million road section in front of the City Hall on Wednesday night, The Witness found moderate views hard to come by as people took their first steps along the 200-metre stretch of Chief Albert Luthuli Street. Pedestrian Kaylynn Anthony (16) declared, “I think the road is fabulous and gives this place an amazing feel and look. I would like to commend the municipality for a great attempt. It was well worth the wait.”

However, Thapelo Lephoto (18) said, “I really do not see a need for all this because the only difference I see is the lights and the red bricks. They could have used the money on serious matters like the power outages.”

And one man — who asked not to be named — said he was caught in a tangle of confused signage, U-turns and police instructions when he attempted to turn on to the street yesterday morning. The driver claimed he was threatened with arrest by a traffic officer when he got out of his car to ask the policeman how to use the new road system to get to his parking.

“I was amazed when having got to the turning point I was stopped and told that things had now changed and I could only get to this point,” he said.

The road was rebuilt and the precinct redesigned as part of the city’s Urban Renewal Programme, which Mayor Chris Ndlela said would boost both business and tourism.

But businesses trapped within the construction zone for the past eight months have complained about a dramatic drop in revenue.

Touching the ground to feel the texture of the road, Leon Smit from Donnybrook said the road was a beautiful change to the city, “It’s a great Christmas tribute for the city. For once, we see a change through the uMgungundlovu municipality.”

Ashwin Chetty, who lives in a flat close to the city hall, emerged as the only resident with moderate views on the development — saying he was worried about noise and increased traffic, but that “I can’t complain too much”.

Meanwhile, other first-time users gave The Witness strong views on either side of the debate:

• Nomfundo Ndlovu (23) said: “This road was a waste of money. Resources could have been used for other things, because we all know that it will not make any change to traffic.”

•Vishen Singh (30) said: “The red brick road feels a bit like Durban. It is such a refreshing atmosphere and an all-season beauty. It has improved drastically from what it was. The lights add a new feel.”

•Zakhele Dlamini (41) said: “It looks much better than before, but it is a waste of money because, after all, the previous road did not look bad and there weren’t any potholes.”

•Inga Nande (25) said: “This was an utter waste of R18 million. They could have built houses for the squatters they defend or cut grass at the airport.”

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