More delays, more traffic

2018-12-04 16:27

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As motorists seethe with frustration at the traffic snarl-ups around construction of Msunduzi’s integrated public transport network (IRPTN), council has heard that the project might be delayed yet again.

It has emerged that road widening for the project’s third phase is encroaching onto six private properties and the City is yet to reach an agreement with most of the affected property owners. Phase three of the project runs from Moses Mabhida Road near Camps Drift to the city centre.

Phase one of the project was delayed by months and phase two has also been delayed.

According to a progress report presented by acting city manager Nelisiwe Ngcobo at full council last week, the road widening encroaches onto properties owned by Hulamin, Somta Tools, KZN Public Works, Afrox, Emerald Sky Trading and Pappamia.

Ngcobo said the land acquisition process may affect the progress of construction, and added that the contractor had started on the section that is not encroaching on private properties.

While the municipality had agreed a transfer process with Emerald Sky Trading and Pappamia, there are still ongoing negotiations surrounding the other four properties, the council heard. Boundary walls and parking spaces at both Hulamin and Somta Tools would be affected by the project and the two companies have asked the municipality to commit to carrying the costs for the new walls.

Ngcobo said Hulamin was also demanding that a taxi stop should be constructed next to their access and for an adjustment of the traffic management plan for the Moses Mabhida Road construction to suit their operations.

“The issue of the taxi lay-by next to their property is against the IRPTN operational plan and in some instances the traffic management plan cannot accommodate their needs,” she said.

Ngcobo said the municipality had sent Hulamin a letter two weeks ago explaining the situation. “Based on the outcome from this letter, an alternative land acquisition process might need to be undertaken,” she said.

Hulamin CEO Richard Jacob said they had engaged with the municipality and its service providers on numerous occasions to help optimise the design and minimise any likely negative impacts. “We hope that our concerns and suggestions will be well considered, although it is still a little early ...” he said.

“Hulamin hopes that the planned improvements to public transport in Pietermaritzburg will improve the lives of those who rely on public transport to commute. It is too early to comment on likely impacts on Hulamin’s operations as completion is still some two years off,” he said. “In the interim, and while roadworks are under way, traffic congestion is a significant inconvenience and cost to both Hulamin employees and transporters of our products and supplies,” said Jacob.

Somta spokesperson Emma Mortimer said they had been dealing with the municipality for months on the boundary issue. The company will have to re-route its truck delivery access and staff access roads, but the municipality had agreed in principle to help the company with this, subject to agreement from council. Ngcobo said the tender for phase two was at the objections stage as three objections had been received.

The contract for phase one of the project, which was supposed to be completed on June 30, was extended to November 30, Ngcobo said. The phase was delayed due to underperforming contractors, delays in procurement and housing relocation issues.

The City had to relocate 23 families from an informal settlement whose properties were encroaching onto the road reserve. The delays in phase one led to months of traffic congestion at Imbali Crossing, leaving thousands of commuters from Imbali, Edendale and outlying rural areas in Vulindlela, frustrated as they had to plan their daily trips around the traffic as the road was reduced to one lane in each direction.

That phase, which started in January 2016 was supposed to have been completed in April 2017.

The project is funded by the national Department of Transport and the City has been allocated R199 million in this financial year to implement it.

The upgrade of Moses Mabhida Road is the first phase of the implementation of the Edendale/Northdale Corridor, which will go via Church Street.“


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  traffic

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