Ongoing work on R72 still impacting service roads, residents’ lives
Service roads alongside the R72 have been virtually destroyed due to the heavy machinery used in the ongoing roadworks project, and residents are angry about not being able to access their homes without great difficulty.
Sanral, which owns the national roads throughout the country, decided some time back that the R72 between the Great Fish River and Alexandria required an upgrade, and appointed Murray and Roberts as main contractor on the project. Gibb was appointed as consulting engineers.
Work began toward the end of 2015, with the first part of the project being to relocate stormwater drains and service ducts and pipelines (for electricity, sewerage and telephone lines) to accommodate the widening of the road.
Following an appeal for help from local resident Jonathan Walker, Talk of the Town asked Ndlambe Municipality, responsible for fixing up these service roads, when construction on the R72 would be complete.
It seems that all service roads that run off the R72 are suffering in the same way, with TLBs, cranes and delivery vehicles ripping up the ground.
Municipal spokesperson Cecil Mbolekwa replied: “The public need to indicate to us which roads are damaged, so we can patch them.
“Should they require gravel we do this as well.
“Unfortunately we cannot stop people from using these side roads, as people see them as [an] easy alternative to their destination,” he said.
“We understand people get so impatient waiting and they end up using these side roads. There is nothing we can do at this stage other than patching and re-gravelling the roads.”
But Walker also asked about the state of other roads in the area, specifically the section of Biscay Road that runs from Main Street to West Street, where articulated delivery vehicles are constantly churning up the road surface and making it difficult, if not impossible, for cars to navigate. “These are real problems. “It is unacceptable that residents can no longer get onto their properties because of the roadworks,” he said.
He wanted to know who would fix the roads when construction ended.
In a letter to Talk of the Town in August 2015, Hendrik Pretorius, resident engineer for Gibb, explained that residents and visitors would be kept informed of what was being done through regular updates in TotT.
However, long periods have gone by without any such updates, and the project appears far from complete.
Many residents want to know when all the construction will be completed as there is a real danger that, without lines on the R72 road surface and with the many stop/go’s, there is an increased risk of accidents.
In fact, a number of accidents have been reported over this time and are usually associated with the roadworks on the R72.
Pretorius also wrote: “Completion of this project is anticipated during August 2018, and Sanral requests that all road users and local residents be patient with the contractor and the engineer as we are aware the construction work can be frustrating.”
Having already passed the initial completion date, residents are wondering if the roadworks will be completed next year, as the four additional traffic lights, paving and street lighting still need to be installed.
Added to this, the amount of loose soil and other debris resulting from the roadworks often flows into residential and business driveways or into the stormwater drains during heavy rains.
MUD TRAP: Service roads alongside the R72, currently under construction, have been severely damaged by the amount of heavy traffic they have endured during the R72 upgrade project. This is the service road off Southwell Road, which is badly affected and is causing problems for residents in the area
HARD TO NEGOTIATE: A photograph of Biscay Road after rain shows the state of the road surface, which is a nightmare for residents of the street, as well as people driving into town from the river side