Drive to tar roads for 2010

All stories by Ramatsiyi Moholoa

All stories by Ramatsiyi Moholoa

The Eastern Cape government has allocated about R50 billion to upgrade and tar roads in the province in the build-up to the 2010 World Cup.

Thobile Mhlahlo, MEC of safety, liaison, roads and transport, said work was under way in some of the suburbs, villages and townships.

Mhlahlo said they had commissioned a feasibility study for the tolling of the road between East London and Port Elizabeth to ease the massive traffic volumes.

This is done in partnership with the South African National Roads Agency.

"The department, through this effort, intends to upgrade the R72 road to a dual lane. This project will be implemented through the public-private partnership," said Mhlahlo.

"The total provincial network is 43465km, of which 5102km are surfaced and 33363km are gravel.

"In response to this challenge, the department will start the next financial year with a 10-year plan to change the ratio of surface to gravel roads, with 80 percent of the 43465km to be surfaced and 20 percent to remain gravel.

"Because of the scarcity of quarry material, alternative surfacing technologies will get a stronger focus in this plan.

"The plan will also promote labour-intensive methods for job creation. Already 12 graders have been purchased at a cost of R16,4 million and distributed to all districts," Mhlahlo said.

"The department is busy restoring its own internal capacity through creating centres of excellence in Graaf Reinet and Grahamstown.

"The primary focus of these centres will be the transfer of skills to both in-house maintenance and construction, as well as to communities."

The process of upgrading roads was already under way for the road between Maclear to Mt Fletcher at a cost of R150 million.

Other projects include Middledrift to Alice (R207million), Ugie to Langeni (R420million), Mount Frere to R56 (R347million), Sulenkama Hospital road (R240million) and Xuka River Bridge (R9 million).

Mhlahlo added that the department was still committed to initiating other projects in the third quarter of the 2007-08 financial year.

The projects are Fonteinskloof road to Ncanarha, Isimela Hospital road, Motherwell to Addo road, East London to Kidds Beach road and Peddie to Birha River road.