Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula launched the festive season road safety campaign by opening Phase 2 of the Polokwane Eastern Ring Road. The South African National Roads Agency SOC Limited (SANRAL) project which lies to the south and east of Polokwane starts near the Shell Ultra City and extends from there to the Tzaneen Interchange at the R71.
Speaking at the launch, Minister Mbalula praised SANRAL for a job well done. “To the management of SANRAL, I want to thank you for a job well done. This has cost about R800 million and we were able to create jobs out of this project for SMMEs. We were able to train the youth here in Polokwane and surrounding areas. This is a job well done and this is what these projects are all about,” said the Minister.
“This contract realigned the N1 to give preference to traffic wishing to travel on the Eastern Ring Road around Polokwane, instead of going through the Central Business District. Traffic wishing to travel to the Polokwane CBD will still be able to that by making use of the new ramps which have been built at the upgraded R101 and N1 Interchange just north of the Shell Ultra City;” said Alan Agaienz, SANRAL’s Project Manager.
The existing two lane, single carriageway road has been developed as a four lane, divided, dual carriageway, with the construction of a new northbound carriageway. In addition, approximately 8.8km of the existing road was improved with the widening of paved shoulders and strengthening of the road.
The main contractor Basil Read experienced severe cash flow difficulties and went into voluntary business rescue in June 2018. A new contractor Edwin Construction was appointed under a Cession Agreement to complete the Works and commenced operations in September 2019.
“The Project created job opportunities for up to 170 people per month. Over 200 local SMMEs attended tender briefing sessions by Edwin Construction of which 54 tenders were shortlisted for consideration for 8 work packages. The local Targeted Enterprises including women and youth were appointed by the main contractor following evaluation of tenders at a cost of over R100million,” continued Agaienz.
Edwin Construction carried out training on-site such as first aid, excavations and scaffolding, working at heights, slings and equipment. A total of 45 local employees benefitted from the training programme.
The capacity and safety of the old N1/ R37 and N1/Road P977 at grade intersections have been improved with the construction of new interchanges. “Six new bridges were constructed, and one existing bridge extended for safety of motorists and other road users. Other improvements included lengthening of new road sections, ramps, rehabilitation of existing road sections, new overpasses and widening of existing roads,” said Agaienz.
The SANRAL Board chairperson, Mr Themba Mhambi, gave the minister a collage of pictures as a token of appreciation. He said, “Minister, you gave us the tools to do the work that we do. We will make sure that road infrastructure development is one of the key contributors to the country’s economic recovery in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic”.