South Africa

Always at your service: keeping a finger on the pulse of the N3 Toll Route

N3 Toll Concession provides a Route Control Centre to manage all incidents and give assistance to road users

The N3TC is an important role player in the nationwide RIMS, which falls under the auspices of Sanral.
The N3TC is an important role player in the nationwide RIMS, which falls under the auspices of Sanral.
Image: Supplied/N3TC

A strategically important road such as the N3 Toll Route, from Cedara in KwaZulu-Natal to Heidelberg in Gauteng, requires a comprehensive incident management system to ensure as little disruption as possible to the thousands of travellers who use the road daily.

Whether a crash, a wildfire or an oil spill, every incident requires a coordinated emergency response to minimise safety problems and get the traffic flowing smoothly again in the shortest possible time; safety always being the number one priority. 

The N3 Toll Concession (N3TC) is an important role player in the nationwide Road Incident Management System (RIMS), which falls under the auspices of Sanral. As the company that designs, constructs, finances, operates and maintains the N3 Toll Route, N3TC provides a Route Control Centre (RCC) to manage all incidents and give assistance to road users. It is based at Harrismith and acts as a central communication point to which all incidents and emergencies are reported and from where emergency assistance is dispatched. 

“Our Route Control Centre is the nerve centre of the N3 Toll Route,” says Con Roux, commercial manager of N3TC. “If anything happens on the route, the RCC knows about it and also the response that is needed. This is a vitally important part of our operations and a key early-warning system.”

All information pertaining to the route is fed to the RCC, which manages and updates a comprehensive database on the N3 Toll Route. This database is a powerful tool which enables N3TC to identify the type of incidents along the route and how best to manage and mitigate them. “Essentially, it gives us a way of analysing the typical risks and incidents on the road, which in turn helps to improve our response to them,” says Roux.  

The route patrollers all have first-aid and fire-fighting training, advanced driving skills and good mechanical knowledge.
The route patrollers all have first-aid and fire-fighting training, advanced driving skills and good mechanical knowledge.
Image: Supplied/N3TC

On the ground, N3TC provides 24-hour route patrol services to monitor the road for any problems, whether it be livestock meandering where they don’t belong or inclement weather causing dangerous conditions. These teams are often the first responders to motorists experiencing emergencies or breakdowns, and they act as backup to emergency services at the scene of crashes. 

The route patrollers are skilled and experienced. They all have first-aid and fire-fighting training, advanced driving skills and good mechanical knowledge. They also know how to handle hazardous and highly volatile substances, and understand the practicalities and logistics of keeping a road safe for its users. 

“Our patrollers travel the N3 Toll Route day and night,” says Roux. “They know each guard rail, each road sign, and they are quick to pick up on anything amiss that requires our attention.”

'Our patrollers travel the N3 Toll Route day and night,' says Con Roux, commercial manager of N3TC.
'Our patrollers travel the N3 Toll Route day and night,' says Con Roux, commercial manager of N3TC.
Image: Supplied/N3TC

The route patrol teams immediately contact the RCC if there are problems in order to inform all the relevant role players and trigger the appropriate response. If their information is applicable to motorists on the route, such as traffic congestion or emergency road closures, it is shared with travellers via N3TC’s Twitter account.

“We verify and share essential information with our road users on the Twitter feed and we implore them to make use of this service while travelling on the N3 Toll Route,” says Roux.

“They can also contact the N3TC Helpline on 0800 63 4357, whether in case of emergency or for the latest traffic or weather updates. It operates 24 hours, 365 days a year, so N3TC is really always there for you.” 

This article was paid for by the N3 Toll Concession.

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