Poorly maintained roads impact negatively on South African communities and the country in general. They intensify isolation, poverty, illiteracy and poor health in rural societies. When road infrastructure is not maintained, it can constrain mobility, significantly raising vehicle operating costs and increasing crash rates and property costs.
This is according to Bakwena N1N4 toll commercial manager, Liam Clarke, who says the company is investing over R1 billion in maintaining and upgrading road infrastructure along the 385 kilometres of the N1N4 it manages as part of its concession contract.
He says deferred maintenance has unintended costs. “Neglected roads become more difficult to use over time, increasing vehicle operating costs in the form of frequent repairs and higher fuel usage. This often creates an unwillingness by transport operators to use the roads. It also places an additional burden on the economy: as passenger and freight services are curtailed, there is a consequent loss of economic and social development opportunities, not only in areas directly affected, but in the rest of the country and across our borders.”
The South African National Road Agency (SANRAL) estimates that repair costs are six times greater after three years of neglect and 18 times greater after five years of neglect. “Regular upgrades and maintenance can therefore save the country millions of Rands in the long term,” adds Clarke.
Bakwena will be upgrading the following areas in 2018:
N4 Groot Marico
An estimated R273-million will be spent on the reconstruction of the N4 in Groot Marico, between Vaalkop and the Swartruggens boundary. The project, which was awarded in mid-2017 to G4Civils, is expected to be completed by April 2019.
N4 Westbound Carriageway
To improve the driving experience for motorists and commuters, the N4 westbound carriageway between R512 up to Buffelspoort interchange will be resurfaced. The project entails overlaying the existing surface with a 40mm thick new asphalt surface; as well as conducting base layer repairs and gravel reconstruction. The project is worth an estimated R100 million awarded to Roadmac Surfacing and expected to be concluded in October 2018.
A R55 million project to upgrade the R511 interchange was awarded to Raubex Construction in March. The project includes the provision of west facing ramps and is expected to be complete in February 2019.
N4 between M17 and R512
A second carriageway on the N4 between the M17 and the R512 (Brits Interchange) commenced in March 2018. The estimated construction period is 36 months at a projected cost of R582 million and awarded to Raubex Construction. The project will include the extension of structures to accommodate the second carriageway, the realignment of interchange ramps to tie in with the new carriageway and a bridge over the Crocodile River – all aimed at vastly improving road safety and traffic capacity.
“Road improvements bring immediate benefits to road users when completed. Roads are among the most important public assets in many countries, providing improved access to hospitals, schools and markets as well as improved comfort, costs and safety, We urge motorists to exercise patience and drive safely while the construction is being undertaken,” says Clarke.