Fence ‘to save lives’

2018-05-09 18:35
SANRAL staff building the vandal-proof fence along the N3 in KwaZulu-Natal in a bid to stop pedestrian deaths.

SANRAL staff building the vandal-proof fence along the N3 in KwaZulu-Natal in a bid to stop pedestrian deaths. (Supplied)

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A spike in pedestrian deaths on the country’s roads has led to “vandal-proof” fences being erected on certain sections of the N3 and N2 in KwaZulu-Natal.

With pedestrians accounting for almost 40% of all deaths on the country’s roads, the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) has begun building fences along “vulnerable” sections of the N3 and N2 that are difficult both to climb and to cut.

The fence is being erected on the median, between the two carriageways, to stop pedestrians from running across the freeway.

Transport Minister Blade Nzimande, in a report issued in April, said pedestrian fatalities over Easter had increased to 37,3% from last year’s 33,8% of the total road deaths.

In his report, he added that of particular concern was the increase in pedestrian deaths of young children and middle-aged individuals.

The report also stated that the number of jay-walking pedestrians killed on South African roads also increased to 38,0% from 25,2% of the total in 2017.

Sanral released a press statement on Tuesday saying pedestrians are hit by vehicles when they attempt to cross freeways instead of using overhead bridges.

Sanral’s Eastern Region project manager Bruno Cullen said in the statement that they are erecting fences between the Chota Motala Bridge and Chatterton Road on the N3 Pietermaritzburg Bypass. He said a two-kilometre stretch of fence was being built along the N3 at Cliffdale as well as along a section of the N2 at KwaMashu, Durban.

Cullen said pedestrians vandalised the fencing that had previously been used to prevent them from crossing the busy highway.

“We have experimented with vandal-proof fences, which have so far proven to be most effective in preventing people from crossing and causing an unsafe environment,” said Cullen.

He said the fencing stands at almost 2,55 metres high and is manufactured from “galvanised pressed high-density mesh panels” with galvanised spikes bolted along the top.

“It is not possible to climb this type of fence and it is also difficult to cut,” said Cullen.

“Pedestrians are the most vulnerable group of all road users and road safety is an important priority for Sanral.”

He urged pedestrians to keep off the roads, adding that “while walking to a bridge may take a while longer, it could mean the difference between life and death”.

South Africans against Drunk Driving (SADD) founder, and road safety expert, Caro Smit, agreed that there is a need to separate pedestrians from vehicles on the roads.

Smit added that Sanral’s fencing was a “good start” but that the vandal-proof barriers were needed all over, including along ordinary streets, to protect pedestrians from cars driving up onto pavements.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  accidents

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