Public Works and Infrastructure Minister and Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission Secretariat chairperson Patricia de Lille on August 19 conducted an oversight visit to the N3, in KwaZulu-Natal, where important road upgrade projects are under way.
The oversight visit formed part of the Minister’ duties to monitor progress of the 62 projects which were gazetted as Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPs) as part of the Infrastructure Investment Plan (IIP) approved by Cabinet on May 27, 2020.
De Lille was joined by Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, head of infrastructure investment in the Presidency and head of Infrastructure South Africa (ISA). ISA, which was established in August 2020 following approval by Cabinet, is responsible for monitoring this project and all other projects in the IIP and is assisting stakeholders to address any blockages and ensure successful implementation of projects.
In July 2020, the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure gazetted 62 projects as SIPs in line with the Infrastructure Development Act and many of these projects are currently in construction as part of efforts to expedite much-needed infrastructure development in communities and assist in reviving the struggling construction sector.
The plan is also an integral part of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP) announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa in October 2020.
The N3 upgrade projects were gazetted as a SIP and the projects are being implemented by the Department of Transport and the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) and its contractors.
The programme comprises two projects and spans over the next six to eight years and includes 14 packages that are estimated to be valued in excess of R20-billion.
The first section of the N3 to be upgraded is a 6 km stretch from north of the Cato Ridge Interchange to south of the Dardanelles Interchange and includes the Camperdown Interchange and the north facing ramps of the Cato Ridge Interchange.
De Lille said the two sections of the road being upgraded had been divided into two contracts and was already bringing significant benefit through small, medium-sized and microenterprise empowerment and job creation.
“This project’s importance and contribution to the ERRP is substantial, as the N3 is integral to the economic growth of South Africa. A growing South African population has placed this strategic corridor under severe pressure, requiring substantial upgrading to portions of the corridor.
“The N3 upgrade forms an integral part of the government’s SIPs as part of the Durban-Free State-Gauteng Logistics and Industrial Corridor. It aims to strengthen the logistics and transport corridor between South Africa’s main industrial hubs, improve access to Durban’s export and import facilities and raise efficiency along the corridor. It is the busiest road freight corridor in South Africa, with over 70-million tons a year of freight transported by road," she commented during the oversight visit.
The upgrade to the N3 should alleviate congestion on roads around the Durban port and on the crucial N3 corridor linking the port and Gauteng, she said, adding that the upgrade would shorten turnaround times for freight-carrying vehicles, reduce accidents and increase profitability and contribute to economic growth.
“The need for the project arose from increased traffic volumes, declining levels of service on the freeway and the pavement of the existing road reaching a terminal state.
“The investment of this project demonstrates Sanral’s understanding of the need to have quality roads to ensure the safe and efficient movement of people and goods through proper infrastructure to support economic activity and growth,” said De Lille.
The project entails upgrading the existing four-lane dual carriageway to an eight-lane dual carriageway by widening to the median and outer shoulders over a distance of 6.4 km.
“The Sanral board approved the award of the construction contract in November 2020 and the contract started on January 13. Works commencement on site started in April.
The contract period is 51 months and is scheduled for completion in April 2025, said De Lille.
Current work includes widening of the N3 median, piling in the median for the future Camperdown Interchange pier, temporary pavement maintenance on the N3 and local roads, installation of temporary concrete barriers to protect the works and earthworks for the fill widenings.