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The beauty of SA’s largest province

The largest province in the country boasts the brightest stars, once a year spectacular flowers and wildlife which includes the black-maned lion.

If that sounds like a romantic or family getaway to experience, it is time to take a tour in the Northern Cape.

With space aplenty, long road trips to enjoy and the warm to summer days and cold winter nights the Northern Cape is a true escape from the hustle and bustle of major urban areas.

The N14 runs from Springbok through Upington via Kakamas and ends in Gauteng – most of the provincial tourist highlights can be reached off these maintained highways such as the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. The 37,000 kilometres stretch across South Africa and Botswana and there are plans to link this huge park to the nearby Augrabies National Park and the Namib National Park, which is the largest conservation area in the world.

Northern Cape heritage offerings:

The Kgalagadi

• You can feel the peace descending on you as you gaze at the red sand dunes.
• There is sparse vegetation, the occasional tree and dry riverbeds, the gemsbok and the black-maned lion.

The Augrabies Falls

It is where the water thunders through a gorge and makes you feel small and vulnerable.
There are several kinds of buck as well as small predators like leopards and wild cats and a rich offering of indigenous plants.

UNESCO Heritage Site, the Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape border on the Ai-Ais Park in Namibia and enclose the world famous Fish River Canyon.

Namaqualand is known for its stunning display of wild flowers between July and September, becoming a massive carpet stretching to the horizon of scent and colour.

Wild flowers

And the provincial capital, Kimberley, has a fascinating history built around it and South Africa’s earliest diamond days. Not forgetting the Big Hole, which is the biggest man-made in the world because of its diamonds.

We can go on and on about the Northern Cape, so journey on and experience it and frame those memories.

Trout in Limpopo saved by a better road

“As members of the trout family, we would like to thank SANRAL for saving us from the disruption of the environment on the R71, where our home is underground, during the rehabilitation of this road in November last year.”

The project of the road was a relief for motorists travelling between Moria and Tzaneen in Limpopo. SANRAL was asked to take control of the road rehabilitation on the major regional road.

It was a section close to the Stanford Lake College and raised environmental concerns. For the trout, a fish ladder has also been completed so that they can survive. However, upgrading the bridge meant that the trout would be cut off from their spawning grounds.

SANRAL’s communications manager, Vusi Mona, said the importance of trout fishing for the whole Haenertsburg/Magoebaskloof area meant a fish ladder had to be added.

Trout travel downstream during their lifetime but return to their place of origin when breeding. The water under the bridge was very shallow and when it spreads out, they won’t be able to swim upstream.

Silence on the road surface please

With so many cars on the roads, it is without a doubt that noise pollution is one of the greatest factors that should be addressed in exchange for silence.

This kind of pollution contributes a large share in developed and developing countries, though it is a multi-faceted one which warrants an approach beyond what the road agency, SANRAL, can offer.

But road noises, however, do not only come from the road surface, but tyre types, roadway geometrics, speed and vehicles all contribute. Roads with rough surfaces are noisiest, while asphalt is quieter and smoother by comparison.

SANRAL undertook an investigation into seal types that could potentially reduce noise, with the intention to use the resulting information to lay down guidelines for selecting the type of seal that ought to be used in built-up areas.

The tests were carried out on two sections of road in Cape Town. The first section; four types of seals were selected and the second set of tests were carried out on existing roads with different surfaces.

It was then found that there is no standard surfacing that can result by itself in a noise level low enough to meet national and international guidelines. Additional measures would have to be taken on high-speed urban highways. Further tests to look for a standard paved surface would have to be taken.Road2

Vusi Mona, the agency’s communications manager, says they hope to have an answer soon but implementation will be a drawn out process, as a wholesale difference cannot be implemented overnight.

This confirms that SANRAL commits itself to building excellent roads and taking the communities around its highways into account.

 

 

Walking Wonder bridge makes it to the top

KwaMashu, KwaZulu-Natal and Isando in Gauteng have something in common, SANRAL’s engineering excellence – both being recognised for engineering excellence.

A the CESA Aon Engineering Excellence Award the KwaMashu interchange improvement project in KwaZulu-Natal took home the main prize whilst the Isando Pedestrian Bridge in Gauteng received a commendation in the category for projects worth less than R50 million. In addition to taking home a commendation, the Isando Pedestrian bridge additionally received a commendation at the recent South African Steel Awards.

The KwaMashu interchange is located at the intersection of the N2 and R102 near Durban. It is an innovative cost-effective solution and is the first in the Southern Hemisphere. The upgrade has resulted in reduced journey times for commuters, less traffic congestion, improved safety for pedestrians and motorists and reducing the accident rate.

The Isando Pedestrian Bridge, nicknamed the “Walking Wonder,” near the O. R Tambo International Airport has improved pedestrian safety and journey times.

SANRAL’s Head of Communications, Vusi Mona, has commended Aurecon for its work on the KwaMashu Interchange upgrade and the SMEC South Africa for the Isando Pedestrian Bridge. The awards come on top of similar awards last year and are once again proof of the engineering with which we continue to associate ourselves with.

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Curry’s Post children receive school bags & goodies from SANRAL

Nelson Mandela once quoted “there can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”

To children, the smallest things are appreciated, and to parents, their happiness matters. Knowing that a child is there to learn from you and to grow from your teachings is a step forward to raising a future hero.

A group of primary school children in the Natal Midlands had excitement written on all their faces when they received school bags with goodies. The bags had a lot of energy and inspirational treats such as reflective wristbands, sweets and pencil cases.

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Established in 1996, Curry’s Post Primary School is located in Howick, a town in Umgungundlovu, District of KwaZulu-Natal. A town that enjoys warm summer days and dry winter colds. The school was identified by SANRAL board member, Peter Derman, as one of the disadvantaged schools worthy of support.

With every school visit from influential people comes education, and the children received knowledge on the importance of road safety by Derman and Nomsa Modise, SANRAL Project Manager.

The learners sat attentively and listened while at the same time waiting graciously to accept the goodie bags in sight. Modise spoke to the learners about the importance of education in their development as the future leaders of the country.

There are stigmas associated with rural schools that there are less development and equipment to hone their skills, however Derman has said that Curry’s Post was no ordinary farm school and is generally one of the best.

The school has a trust called the Curry’s Post Education Trust and it consists of local residents who collectively raise funds with the aim of improving conditions at the school to dismiss the perception that the quality of education at this school is inferior to city schools.

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Derman also said by the time the children graduate, they will be better people. The speech moved Deputy Principal, Mrs Philisiwe Magubane, to express her gratitude to SANRAL for the donation to the school. Magubane expressed that they didn’t expect all 105 learners to receive school bags as usually, such donations of this nature are only enough for a few learners.

The educators received year planners and the school also received a donation for its library. The school also boasts an impressive computer lab with 18 state-of-the-art computers to enhance academic learning and development.

As a famous saying goes, “Give a man fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

Roads are vital for the country’s future economic growth – President Zuma

Travelling is fulfilling, and more worth the time when going on vacations, and sharing picture moments and memories.

SANRAL is a state-owned agency responsible for the planning, design, construction and maintenance of the national road network and will play a decisive role in the provision of the strategic infrastructure required to achieve the 5% economic growth rate envisaged by government.

With a broad theme “Moving South Africa Forward,” state President, Jacob Zuma, emphasised that the National Infrastructure Development Plan continues to be a “key job driver and catalyst for economic growth.”

Zuma also said road improvement and the expansion of transport networks is a priority focus area of the country’s plans to invest more than R4-trillion in strategic infrastructure and this “augurs well for economic growth.”

In the coming year the Department of Transport will spend about R11 billion on the upgrading and maintenance of roads which are not tolled – and a further R9 billion on the Sihamba Sonke programme, intended to maintain provincial roads. SANRAL is increasingly responsible for the upkeep of provincial roads at the requests of provincial governments.

The President’s remarks were also reflected in submissions recently made by SANRAL and the Department of Transport to the Review Panel appointed to consider the impact of e-tolling in Gauteng.

The Minister of Transport, Ms Dipuo Peters stressed the fact that road funding policy is determined by Government and SANRAL is the implementing agency which operates and manages the 21 403 km national road network.

SANRAL receives the bulk of its funding from the fiscus but it is also required to generate additional funds through the issuing of bonds and other borrowing instruments to fund its tolled roads portfolio. This debt is, in turn, serviced by means of toll payable by users who make use of the modern and well-maintained toll roads.

In his address to Parliament, President Zuma said the government will spend about R6-billion in 13 cities in the country during the next financial year to plan and implement integrated public transport networks. SANRAL has already played a role in helping with integrated public transport networks in that it was the implementing agent for construction for the Tshwane Rapid Transit, A Re Yeng bus system.

SANRAL steps in to ensure safety at Erasmusrand Pedestrian Bridge

There are 8,735 bridges and culverts in South Africa.

These bridges are inspected every five years as part of a maintenance plan by route checkers, regularly checking for any defects. This is extremely important as if they are not checked, the damage to them could be catastrophic.

The Erasmusrand Pedestrian Bridge in Pretoria East has been discontinued for use and temporary measures have been put in place for pedestrians. The Bridge, used mostly by the Waterkloof High School learners, was quickly stabilized to avoid any possible collapse. On average, about 620 pedestrians use it on a daily basis during the week.

SANRAL’s Bridge Network Manager, Edwin Kruger, received a call from the City of Tshwane and told of a serious threat to users. Kruger quickly activated an emergency plan because people’s lives were in potential danger should the bridge collapse.

Engineers from SANRAL were quickly messaged to the area to assess the extent of the damage and it was decided that the bridge had to be closed immediately in the interest of road safety. Northern Region’s project manager for Ops and Maintenance, Oakley Van Eyk, said his team would investigate whether it was economical to repair the damaged bridge or build a new one completely.

He also said building a new bridge of the same size as Erasmusrand could cost SANRAL about R20 million, which includes the cost of managing traffic. On top of that, it would be a huge task to remove the bridge from a 10-lane highway, however, his team is still conducting a feasibility study to determine the best option, which could take three to six months before a new bridge is finalized.

It is not clear yet what the cause of damage is, however, over-height and over-wide vehicles were often the cause of damages to bridges and Van Eyk said this is a huge problem in the country and policing them is also a challenge.

SANRAL fails to raise its bond auction

SANRAL’s ninth bond auction, since e-tolling began in December 2013, did not go as well as expected when it failed to raise its targeted R600 million on 4 February.

The non-payment of e-tolls is the main reason for the roads agency’s credit outlook, while the non-portfolio, which covers 85% of the national road network, remains healthy.

SANRAL’s CFO, Inge Mulder, says they only managed to raise R400 million at acceptable spreads. However, spreads widened because of the increased risk as to pay out even though payment is guaranteed. The total bids offered were R621 million with even wider spreads.

This is how the R400 million was allocated:
Hway23- R200 million @ 33 bps (CPI linked)
Hway24- R200 million @ 33 bps (CPI linked)

This is a result of continuous uncertainty regarding e-toll as well as the recent change in outlook by international ratings agency, Moody’s, from stable to negative.

The government guarantee provides sufficient confidence to investors, to still invest to a limited extent in SANRAL. The risk in timing of receipt of their funds is, but the risk in timing of receipt of their funds is addressed through the widening of spreads.

Mulder said that the uncertain policy climate around e-tolls and the resulting increase in cost of borrowing has impacted negatively on the confidence of an investor. If SANRAL is unable to pay its debt, there is a possibility that investors would demand the full debt repayment of R42 billion.

Government will have to borrow the funds and as a result, increasing the deficit which may lead to further downgrades.

Watch as Inge Mulder explains

Protect your children in vehicles

The safest place children should be placed in is in the centre of a back seat vehicle, using a lap-and-shoulder seatbelt or a child’s safety seat.

Research has revealed that child safety seats can reduce injury to babies by up to 70% and by up to 50% in older children. This is because at the moment of impact, unrestrained occupants of the vehicle collide with each other and with the inside of the vehicle, slamming against headrests and the sides of the car.

Charmaine van Wyk of Bakwena addressed that it is important for parents to realize that holding their children on their laps or allowing them to play on the back seat is not appropriate as they may end up going through the windscreen.

According to South African law, children between the ages of three and 14, being transported on the road, must be restrained in car or booster seats in a vehicle. In a case where a special safety seat cannot be provided, children must be secured using the vehicle’s seatbelt. If there are no seatbelts, they are to sit in the back of the vehicle.

Children older than four years or those weighing more than 18 kg no longer need a car seat; but a booster seat positioned at their shoulder level, which allows them to see out the windows and protect their heads and necks from partial head-on or side impact collisions. Babies who weigh less than 9 kg can be placed in a rear-facing seat, in which they lie flat, to protect their bones and spine in times of an accident.

From April 2015, the law will require children under the age of three years to be buckled into car seats. Even when a vehicle is fitted with airbags, they can be dangerous to children under the age of 13 years. The force is enough to cause head injuries and they should not sit in the front seat.

Parents must fully take the initiative to ensure their children’s safety in moving vehicles.

SANRAL accommodates Boeing aircraft move on a major highway

On 25 January 2015, SANRAL assisted the Comair/British Airways in moving a decommissioned aircraft across a major highway.

The aircraft needed to be moved to the Comair/British Airways training centre where it will be used to train cabin crews in a true-to-life environment. Traffic was disrupted on the R21 for the period of the move between 22h00 on Saturday to 10h00 on Sunday.

The plane, and the rigging equipment, weighed 32 tons and four cranes, a 100 tonne, 200 tonne, 400 tonne and 500 tonne, were required to make the move. The move required closed lanes and the highway was narrowed by lane closures to accommodate the equipment and people needed for the move. At the time the aircraft was being lifted over the highway by a series of cranes, traffic was stopped for approximately 30-40 minutes on three occasions.

The team that moved the Boeing Almost there

Capt. Glen Warden of Comair said that this is the first time this has been done in this country. To move an entire aircraft across a national highway is a mammoth task. He commended SANRAL for its fantastic assistance in managing the traffic on the roads.

SANRAL closed lanes in a planned sequence so as not to disrupt motorists too much, get the plane across the highway and keep road users safe. Regional manager of the Northern region, Ismail Essa, said the operation was an unusual one but they ensured that road users’ safety was priority, and that traffic was not disrupted.

He also said there have only been three moves of such done worldwide as far as they know. This was part of SANRAL’s contribution to keep the economy moving.

Watch: