Citrusdal and Cederberg in the Western Cape are now closer together, or, at least, travelling time between them has been reduced. And travel will be safer as a result of SANRAL investing R450 million in improvements on the linking road.
Derek Wilson, who is overseeing the project, says the section between the two towns carries more than 3,000 vehicles per day of which 20% are heavy vehicles transporting goods between South Africa and Namibia.
“The improvement of this part of the N7, which was originally constructed around 1957, was long overdue because of the increased volume of traffic and poor condition of the road surface.”
The scope of the work includes widening the road from 7.4 metres to 12.4 metres and the provision of climbing lanes at various points along this very hilly route to provide safe passing opportunities on steep sections.
“During construction in 2013, we experienced some abnormal weather conditions which caused cracks developing in the cuttings which then resulted in the cutting to slip. A small portion of the road has been realigned away from the cuttings, which resulted in the construction of a retaining wall.”
Wilson says another challenge for the contractors and SANRAL is to adhere to all environmental laws and regulations. For instance, they needed to identify and protect all endangered plant species along the route.
The contractor must also adhere to all environmental regulations regarding fuel and bitumen spills on the construction sites and do clean-ups where necessary.
The road construction has had a positive impact on the communities along the N7.
Skills transfers to sub-contractors is an important part of the investment in the development of SMMEs. Formal courses presented to the SMMEs included tendering and pricing. Also employed and trained were tradesmen from local towns such as carpenters, truck drivers and machine operators.
Shops in surrounding towns such as Citrusdal also benefitted from the construction as they got increased business from contractors and sub-contractors on the improvement project.