KwaZulu-Natal’s gateway to Africa

The upgrade of the N3 is essential if one of the government’s strategic integrated projects, linking Durban harbour with Gauteng, is to succeed. We chat to eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede about the implications of the project. 

The Port of Durban, commonly called Durban Harbour, is the largest and busiest shipping terminal in sub-Saharan Africa.

How important are roads?  

Road infrastructure plays an important role in our lives as individuals and communities. It connects people with people and business to business. It helps to speed up the transportation of goods and people from one point to another. It is the backbone of our economic activities, and by building more roads and maintaining our existing roads, we keep the economy running smoothly.  

Is the upgrade of the N3 necessary?  

I welcome the upgrade of the N3 between Durban and Pietermaritzburg because it carries a large volume of goods and people. It is a busy route and not only connects us with our neighbouring major city, Johannesburg, but also with other provinces. As Durban is the city with the busiest port and biggest container harbour, the N3 is an important corridor because it enables us to have smooth trade. We welcome the improvement and upgrades, as they are a clear demonstration of our government’s commitment to deliver strategic infrastructure that will transform our economy, create jobs and stimulate further opportunities for growth.  

What are some of the challenges with the current N3?  

In its present state, the N3 cannot cope with the high volume of heavy vehicles. Also, the topography of certain sections of the route contributes to bottlenecks and crashes. The closure of the N3 causes major economic losses for businesses. We are hoping that this project will be completed on time. Working with the provincial government, the Minister of Transport and SANRAL, we hope to have this project completed with minimal delay. We remain optimistic that any challenges affecting the project will be resolved and that it moves with speed.  

Would this upgrade improve the economy?  

When people and goods move at the required pace, we will be able to facilitate trading services and ensure that we deliver on time. There will be more opportunities in terms of trade, transport, tourism and business activities in general.  

How do you feel about the upliftment of local labour/SMMEs on the project?  

We at eThekwini Municipality have adopted a framework that seeks to transform our local space for the socioeconomic development of our people. Our approach is and has always been that locals should benefit in terms of job opportunities. Community-based businesses, as well as formal and informal traders, must also benefit. Although this is a national project, communities living close to the project should be afforded the opportunity to own it through employment and subcontracting.  

What is the role of the private sector in making the most of this project?  

The partnership between the government and private sector is a strength. When we work well together, we create more opportunities to fight poverty, inequality and unemployment. The private sector must ensure that it performs and produces good-quality work that matches industry standards. It must also ensure that there is a transfer of skills and empowerment.