On Wednesday, 22 nd February 2023, Bakwena announced its maintenance plans for the first part of the year. “Without maintenance road infrastructure deteriorates rapidly, especially when the realities of the climate crisis are felt as we have seen with the deluges in several provinces over the last two weeks,” says Solomon Kganyago, Chief Operating Officer of the Bakwena Platinum Corridor Concessionaire (Pty) Ltd (Bakwena).
Bakwena manages and operates two vital stretches of the N1 and N4 roads stretching from Tshwane to Bela Bela (90km), northwards to Zimbabwe/Zambia and linking Gauteng westwards, through Rustenburg and Zeerust, to the Botswana Border (290km).
The concession contract between Bakwena and the South African National Roads Agency SOC Ltd (SANRAL) came into effect in 2001, and ends in 2031. As part of the contract, Bakwena must do periodic and routine maintenance, plus specific upgrading works.
These maintenance works and upgrades are funded through tolls. “It has proven to be a practical approach which guarantees that the money received from toll fees is ploughed back into the maintenance and construction of roads, making infrastructure available earlier and creating safer roads for motorists,” explains Kganyago.
The toll fees at Bakwena were set at inception of the project and are adjusted annually in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) subject to the approval from the Minister of Transport.
“Well designed and maintained toll-roads are vital to the regional and national economy, and plays an important socio-economic role. This is why Bakwena carries out regular upgrading and maintenance along the N1N4 route to ensure the road meets international engineering standards,” says Danie Verwey, Chief Technical Officer of Bakwena.
The two existing major rehabilitation projects underway on the N1N4 toll route are progressing well, despite the recent rains.
N4 between Kameeldrift and Ga-Rankuwa Interchanges
This 18-month project commenced in January 2022 with an estimated completion date of August 2023. The rehabilitation entails extensive removal and reconstruction of layer works, followed by a 40mm asphalt overlay on the main carriage way in both directions including some of the key interchanges on the route i.e., R80 and R566 Rosslyn.
During the construction process, the slow lane is closed in sections by means of multiple short term as well as long term closures. Traffic capacity is severely impacted and delays are expected as a result of the lane closures particularly during peak periods along this section.
“We urge road users to plan your journeys accordingly to accommodate these delays or make use of alternative routes” adds Verwey.
N1 between Pienaarsrivier and Bela Bela
The second rehabilitation project that is progressing well is on the N1 between Pienaarsrivier and Bela Bela. The project started in July 2022 with an estimated completion date of July 2023. The work entails milling and reconstruction of layer works, followed by a 40mm asphalt overlay. Lane closures are also in place during this process.
Planned new works include:
N1 between Pumulani Plaza and Pienaarsrivier
The third rehabilitation project set to commence in May 2023 with an anticipated completion date of March 2024. This rehab project is a follow on from the current N1 rehab project. Lane closures can be expected between Pienaarsrivier and Hammanskraal in both directions. For the section between Hammanskraal and Pumulani Plaza, delays and disruptions are expected only on the southbound carriageway, i.e. travelling from Bela-Bela to Pretoria.
Wallmansthal Ramp Plaza
Both ramp plazas are to be upgraded to allow for additional capacity at the ramps to and from the N1 to alleviate peak period congestion. Construction is anticipated to commence during March 2023 and is planned to be complete within six months.
“We believe that our work cannot be carried out responsibly without working with the communities alongside the N1N4 routes. Our programmes have had a meaningful impact on many aspects of the lives of people in communities around the routes that we operate.
“We are committed to their road safety and well-being, but we also focus on other initiatives that will bring positive change in their day-to-day lives that will deliver long-term benefits. From informative programmes to educating children on road safety to programmes raising awareness for environmental heritage, we believe that we have the responsibility as a business not only to build, maintain and operate effective freeways, but also to improve the lives of the people along these routes. It’s the journey that matters and therefore we are committed to making a difference every kilometre of the way.
“We would like to thank our communities and road users for their patience while we undertake these critical works and urge you to obey all road construction related signage and instructions when travelling through the construction areas,” concludes Kganyago.