Upgrades to N2 and N3 will speed up the free flow of goods between South Africa and the Continent, says Transport Minister
Pietermaritzburg, 2 May 2023: Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga says the massive construction projects underway to expand the N2 and N3 freeways in KwaZulu-Natal shows government’s commitment to growing the economy through infrastructure development. The South African National Roads Agency SOC Limited (SANRAL), a State-owned company, has allocated R48 billion to improve the N2 and N3 in KwaZulu- Natal, creating thousands of jobs and major opportunities for the construction industry. Speaking at a ground-breaking ceremony at the Ashburton Interchange Project in the Msunduzi Municipality, Pietermaritzburg, Minister Chikunga said the multi-billion-rand road construction projects along the N3 was primarily aimed at ensuring the free flow of goods between the port of Durban and the African continent’s economic hub, Gauteng. “The N3 freeway is the most important freight and logistics corridor in South Africa which links our busiest port, Durban, with our economic hub in Gauteng, as well as our neighbouring countries in the Southern African Development Community,” said Minister Chikunga.
The Ashburton Interchange is part of the larger N2 and N3 upgrade programmes, which traverses the Msunduzi, Ethekwini and Mkhambathini municipalities, and is aimed at bolstering the capacities of South Africa’s economic arteries from the port city of Durban to the rest of and the country and continent, in line with the government’s Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPs).
Minister Chikunga also conducted an on-site construction inspection and engaged with contract beneficiaries, local communities and stakeholders impacted by the road infrastructure projects within KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). Minister Chikunga assured local communities and businesses that the upgrades will resolve the chronic traffic congestion and reduce road carnage, thus providing higher mobility, increased safety and a reduction in overall travel time.
“While the Msunduzi Municipality’s unemployment rate is 34.2 percent, this N3 upgrade project will create jobs and opportunities to benefit the local and business communities. It will inject economic growth into the municipality thus alleviating poverty and the unemployment rate, especially for women, youth and people with disabilities”, the Minister added.
“These infrastructure projects are not only about improving roads, road safety and creating better movement of goods and people but it is important to stress that government’s infrastructure projects are also aimed at improving the lives of the vast majority of our people,” Minister Chikunga said. “This is also inspiring. Young people must see these structures, especially engineering students, so that they are able to take up opportunities in the growth and development of our country,” she said.
Minister Chikunga also praised SANRAL as “the premier infrastructure development enterprise of government,” adding that “these massive projects are a testament to its application and adherence to world-class standards while utilising brilliant minds, skills and expertise to achieve government’s uncompromising objectives of improving the quality of our people’s lives through our road networks.
“SANRAL has played a very important role in advancing economic growth and it has become one of the key pillars in the government’s economic recovery plan,” she said.
SANRAL CEO Reginald Demana said the N2-N3 upgrades were among the most critical projects for the roads agency in unlocking economic development. “We are investing about R29bn in the N3 and R19bn in the N2 upgrades, translating into R48bn which we are investing to unlock the route between Durban and Gauteng. The port of Durban facilitates about 60% of all exports and all these investments are being done with a view to open access in and out of Durban as one of the most important infrastructure projects in South Africa”, said Mr Demana.
Demana also stressed the role that SANRAL was playing in socio-economic development. Thirty percent of SANRAL projects have to be awarded to SMMEs, local community development structures as well as local employment. We are very proud of that. We are very clear that unskilled and semi-skilled employment must come from the local municipalities and local areas where our roads traverse. That is not negotiable.”
The N2 upgrade is equally important in that it will unlock congestion along the coast for commuters travelling in and around Durban, as well as the main freight route to the port. These upgrades also significantly improve the transport links between KwaZulu-Natal and Mozambique in the North and the Eastern Cape in the South.