Al­ter­na­tive road a goat track

The Star Early Edition - - LETTERS - John Pater­son Joburg

ON FRI­DAY Oc­to­ber 31 we trav­elled from Joburg to Dur­ban by car.

When ar­riv­ing at Har­ri­smith (at about 10am) there was an elec­tronic no­tice board ad­vis­ing mo­torists that the N3 was closed in both di­rec­tions on Van Ree­nens Pass due to more than one se­ri­ous ac­ci­dent in­volv­ing nu­mer­ous ve­hi­cles.

We were ad­vised at the N3 con­ces­sions of­fice at Har­ri­smith that the best al­ter­na­tive route was the R74 past Sterkfontein Dam and then down Olivier­shoek Pass via Bergville and then onto Dur­ban.

We were warned that this road was in a poor state of re­pair. This is an un­der­state­ment, as in some places this road is noth­ing more than a goat track in a very poor state of re­pair.

Due to the se­ri­ous­ness of the ac­ci­dents at Van Ree­nens, traf­fic in both di­rec­tions was di­verted onto the R74, cre­at­ing long de­lays and un­safe trav­el­ling con­di­tions with no traf­fic en­force­ment per­son­nel in sight.

Some of th­ese ve­hi­cles were car­ry­ing live­stock in appalling con­di­tions.

I can­not un­der­stand how a na­tional road has been al­lowed to de­te­ri­o­rate to this ex­tent. Sany­ati Con­struc­tion went into liq­ui­da­tion on this road due to non-pay­ment by the Free State provin­cial gov­ern­ment a good num­ber of years ago and since then it ap­pears that this road has been aban­doned and no main­te­nance takes place what­so­ever.

A sign that a trav­eller passes at the bot­tom of Olivier­shoek Pass wel­comes you to a World Her­itage Site (Drak­ens­berg).

Re­sorts and busi­nesses in the area are barely func­tional due to the poor state of the road. Imag­ine the im­pres­sion that in­ter­na­tional tourists form when ex­posed to this sit­u­a­tion.

I am un­der the im­pres­sion that where there is a toll road in place, there is an obli­ga­tion on the au­thor­i­ties to pro­vide a suit­able al­ter­na­tive un­tolled route to the pub­lic.

The R74 can­not be de­scribed as an al­ter­na­tive by any stretch of the imag­i­na­tion. Does any­one know who has al­lowed the road to de­te­ri­o­rate to where it is to­day and what is be­ing planned/done to rem­edy the sit­u­a­tion?

The coun­try spends bil­lions on less im­por­tant mat­ters yet al­lows a na­tional road to de­te­ri­o­rate into a goat track.

I would ap­pre­ci­ate this mat­ter be­ing brought to the at­ten­tion of those re­spon­si­ble.

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