Exactly a year ago, if you were travelling on the R71 interchange towards Moria, the challenges you’d be met by would include constant congestion — resulting from a clogged-up two lane road running from Polokwane to Tzaneen, and consequently, a single lane for traffic coming from the opposite direction. This traffic jam would reach its peak around Easter time, when millions of pilgrims assemble at the R71 interchange to access Moria, their central place of worship.
This would be coupled by a host of unavoidable road safety risks, as cars wanting to make an intersection from the interchange into Moria would do so purely at their own risk — without a guidance system or traffic control measures. To add insult to injury, you’d have to be vigilant of the thousands of pedestrians alighting minibus taxis, a factor which has contributed to the growing number of pedestrian fatalities. But this was 12 months ago, and the situation has improved dramatically, thanks to the intervention of the South African National Roads Agency of Roads, generally referred to as SANRAL.
Costing R150 million according to Billy Law, President Engineer of SNA Civil & Structural Engineers, the R71 bridge construction has alleviated the congestion significantly and has been met by great jubilation by both ZCC congregants and local residents of Limpopo: for the former, alleviated congestion means pilgrims can make the mission to Moria more quicker and safer; for the residents, new jobs have been created, reducing the unemployment and the resultant crime.
The R71 bridge construction milestones were achieved jointly by the construction of a dual carriageway, a widening the road, and a road overlay. Furthermore, a pedestrian walkway was constructed for pedestrians at the shoulder of the interchange to provide easy access to pilgrims accessing Moria.
SANRAL Project Engineer, Riaan Oerlemans, is happy with the operational tempo and cooperation at the site, and by the fact that they were able to meet their Easter deadline.
Louw Venter, the Contracts Manager for Hillary Construction, said the old intersection was a level ground intersection, and the new one is a free flow intersection with a bridge that leads to the church and a temporary road that offsets the interruption of the general traffic.
Through this project, SMMEs (Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises) were involved in the upgrade of the interchange, of which six were black owned. The anticipated spend of SMMEs is R9 120 000.