Smart roads save lives and keep the wheels turning

On South Africa’s busiest highways connecting its largest cities, an incident that can affect the life or death of road users is detected within 150 seconds and the details are relayed to SANRAL’s high-tech control centres.

This sets in motion a chain of events, including the deployment of rapid emergency response units, traffic management teams and the communication of warning messages to keep other road users in the vicinity informed.

SANRAL’s “smart road system” has now been deployed on busy freeway sections in the Western Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

Modern, state-ofthe- art information and communication technology is used to monitor incidents, respond to crises and keep the traffic flowing in the country’s largest metros. Networks of CCTV cameras and vehicle detector stations relay a constant stream of information and visuals to the 24-hour control centres.

This creates the conditions for lives to be saved when collisions occur and for congestion to be managed effectively. The success of the system lies in the interface with first responders and their capacity to be deployed rapidly.

In most instances, SANRAL’s dedicated fleet of onroad services arrive at the scene of a crash ahead of medical services.

Congestion and traffic delays are managed when the control centres communicate details about incidents to the media, to local radio stations, on social media and to the electronic messaging boards along the freeways. This information enables road users to avoid congestion and plan their routes.

The data collected through the freeway management systems are also used to analyse traffic and incident patterns and identify high areas of risk. In Cape Town the introduction of a mobile CCTV trailer with a sophisticated camera has been used to identify hot spots and contribute to public safety.


The N2 Wild Coast Road runs through a part of the country that was neglected and marginalised during the apartheid years. However, this impoverished and isolated region in the Eastern Cape holds massive potential for economic growth and job creation.

Major upgrades to the road and bridge network and the construction of 96km of new highway from Ndwalane to Lusikisiki and beyond will help to unlock the potential of the region. Included in the development is the construction of two major bridges across deep river gorges. When completed, the cantilever structure over the Mtentu River will be the highest bridge in Africa.

The new road development will reduce travel time between East London and Durban by three hours, support e growth of the agriculture and eco-tourism sectors and provide improved access to government services for communities that have been isolated in the past.


The Moloto Road – R573 – winds its way through three of the northern provinces connecting some 33 settlements in Limpopo and Mpumalanga with the economic heartland of Gauteng.

Through the years, the road has acquired a grim label – “the road of death” – because of the high frequency of crashes leading to fatalities. The safety of commuters and road users is thus paramount in SANRAL’s plans to upgrade the road and contiguous environment.

Work on the first phase will soon be complete. It is estimated that 12 500 jobs will be created in communities over the course of the project and that further opportunities will open up for local enterprises that provide services and logistic support to the construction activities.


The newly completed Mt Edgecombe interchange will bring major relief to residents who have to battle traffic congestion in the city of Durban daily. About 40 000 vehicles a day join or leave the N2 freeway at this vital connection to the North Coast of KwaZulu-Natal.

The project included the construction of four levels of roadway to facilitate the free flow of traffic and two incrementally launched bridges to link the major parts of the intersection. A pedestrian bridge has been constructed close to the intersection to ensure safe crossing of the N2 and connects to footpaths on either side.

At the height of activity, more than 800 individuals – including emerging contractors – were at work on the project, which was eventually completed at a cost of just under R900m.


The N7 along the West Coast is the most important link connecting the economies of Cape Town and neighbouring Namibia. SANRAL is upgrading the road in stages with the current focus on a busy 40km stretch close to the Peninsula.

Eventually, the improved N7 will greatly benefit the tourism and agricultural sectors in both countries and bring major relief for workers living along the route who have to commute into Cape Town on a daily basis.

A prominent feature of the project is the youth learnership initiative that was started in the Malmesbury area through a partnership between SANRAL and the major contractors. This enabled 22 learners to acquire advanced skills in various construction disciplines.

Transforming construction sector

The construction industry has a major impact on business growth, job creation and the quality of life of millions of South Africans.

SANRAL is committed to transforming the construction and engineering sectors and related industries, to maximise the participation of black contractors, professionals and suppliers. Through the implementation of its new Transformation Policy, the agency will also help to breakdown monopolies in the supply chains of materials, equipment and technology to ensure the broad-based participation of black South Africans.

SANRAL has a proven track record for effective management of the country’s national roads. Through its contractual relationships with construction companies, the agency has ensured that roads meet the highest standards of design, construction and maintenance.

This is a proud reputation and forms the basis of SANRAL’s decision to take a more assertive stance on economic transformation and the building of a more equitable and stable country.

SANRAL’s task in the next few years is to build confidence and the social will in the primary construction sector, among potential black investors and in civil society to accelerate economic transformation while upholding competence, creativity and responsibility.

Already 64% of contracts – representing 53% of contract value – are being awarded to companies in which the majority of shares are owned by black people. SANRAL’s intention is to extend this trend to black-owned contractors across the entire spectrum of the agency’s business, including construction, property management and professional services.

During the past financial year, SANRAL conducted workshops and information sessions on the aims of its transformation initiatives country-wide. The feedback received from industry, contractors, labour and communities were accommodated in a final Transformation Policy with just some clauses requiring ministerial and cabinet approval.

But implementation of those sections that were generally supported has started. The various tender documents are being revised to give effect to the Transformation Policy.


People's Guide 2018