Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga inspects progress on R2 billion worth of SANRAL projects along the N2 Garden Route between George and Plettenberg Bay


Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga inspects progress on R2 billion worth of SANRAL projects along the N2 Garden Route between George and Plettenberg Bay

Caption: Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga addressing media after inspecting progress on the Thembalethu Bridge in George. She is flanked by SANRAL Western Region Manager Randall Cable (left), Project Manager Petronella Theron and SANRAL CEO Reginald Demana.

George, 18 April 2024 – Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga says she is impressed by the progress on road construction projects worth more than R2 billion undertaken by the South African National Roads Agency SOC Limited (SANRAL) along the Garden Route in the Western Cape.

This morning, Minister Chikunga first inspected the R160 million Thembalethu Bridge in George which is due to be completed by July 2024.

SANRAL, in collaboration with the George Municipality, has been working for almost two years to widen the old bridge to create two lanes in each direction (dual carriageway) with cycle paths and pedestrian walkways on both sides of the bridge.

“The Thembalethu Bridge is a prime example of the work that we are doing to improve road infrastructure on our national road network which is positively impacting communities, in this case a community in George which, because of apartheid spatial planning, had great difficulty in accessing the main town on the other side of the N2,” said Minister Chikunga.

“SANRAL is also busy with a number of other projects on the Garden Route which are equally important for tourism. We all know that tourism cannot thrive in an environment where there are poor roads. Our national roads are important in connecting communities, towns, cities, provinces and countries. If you have poor roads to service towns dependent on tourism, it can easily mean the death of those towns because tourists do not want to visit places where they would struggle to travel from one destination to another. Good roads lead to good local economies. That, in turn, translates into jobs and a better life for all our people, in this case the people living on the Garden Route here in the Western Cape,” she said.

Speaking at the bridge construction site in George, Minister Chikunga said that by addressing traffic congestion and prioritising pedestrian safety, especially for school children, the Thembalethu Bridge project demonstrated SANRAL’s focus on improving infrastructure for the benefit of local communities.

“The work on Thembalethu bridge is nothing short of engineering excellence. The SANRAL engineers explained to me that a new bridge was built alongside the old bridge, and that the existing bridge is now being lifted to accommodate trucks with a load at a maximum height of 5.2 metres. It’s something that if you are not an engineer, you can never imagine happening, but engineers are able to do it and these are South African engineers – and we are extremely proud of that.”

Taking the minister on a walkabout of the Thembalethu Bridge site, project manager, Petronella Theron, explained that pedestrians were a priority on this project as many of the Thembalethu residents commute on foot. “We have prioritised road safety education working with Mzoxolo Primary school and the community to ensure pedestrians use the pedestrian walkways in order to safety navigate their journeys,” said Theron.

The upgraded bridge also addresses the challenge of significantly increased vehicular traffic in and out of Thembalethu daily.

Minister Chikunga added: “I am very satisfied with this project and I’m told that in two months’ time the work will have been completed, so we will come to open this bridge. I want to appeal to the people of Thembalethu to take care of this asset because it is theirs to serve their interests.

“SANRAL is a state-owned entity, it’s our implementing agency when it comes to national roads in South Africa, and this is but one example of what it’s capable of doing. “The Department of Transport, through SANRAL, has demonstrated its commitment to the Western Cape and its economic growth and aims to commission projects addressing the escalating demands of the growing developments along the Garden Route,” Chikunga said.

“I really want to thank the Board of SANRAL, as well as the CEO and the management team for the good work they do for South Africa every single day of the year. It’s not only about the work they are doing in Thembalethu but about their work across South Africa. Tourists need good roads and investors who want to invest in our country need transport networks. Good roads mean investment and economic growth, which translate into jobs and economic opportunities.

Minister Chikunga also received updates on the progress of several other road construction projects along the Garden Route, including:

• A R230 million reseal project as part of periodic maintenance on the N2 between Dekriet and Mossel Bay;
• The R700 million upgrade of the N2 Wilderness between Kraaibosch and Touw River;
• A similar sized upgrade between and Touw River and Die Vleie (currently out on tender); and
• The major upgrade and construction of a roundabout of the N2 Beacon Way Intersection (approximately R100 million) in Plettenberg Bay.