With fuel prices on the up and up, the unfinished road and bridge that will connect the Southern suburbs of Bloemfontein with the Eastern parts has come under the spotlight again. Frustrated commuters in the area, who are coughing up more for fuel, still have to make use of detours.
The road and bridge project would have been completed by the end of last month. The date has however now been moved to the end of this month. With that date fast approaching, queries on whether the project will be completed by then have been streaming in to the newspaper.
One of the contractors, who agreed to speak to Bloemfontein Courant on condition of anonymity, said that the reason why the road has not been opened yet is due to alleged non-payment by the Mangaung Municipality. The contractor said that they downed tools about a month ago. He said although a portion of the money had been paid, in order for them to finish the work, they would need to be paid in full.
According to the contractor, the work that still needs to be done is simple: “… the painting of lines, some curbs need to placed, streetlights need to be put up, and the paving of some of the islands needs to be completed”. The contractor added that with the right safety measures in place, such as temporary speed bumps, the work could be done while the road was open to commuters. Ward
Councillor David McKay said that it makes no sense as to how money was budgeted, approved and paid out for this project, but the contractor was not being paid. “Because of this, commuters now have to bear the brunt of travelling an extra 30 to 35 kilometres per day. The fact that the petrol price is so high also puts more pressure on commuters; not to mention the condition of the detour route.”
Bloemfontein Courant also spoke to frustrated commuters who travel to the East of the city and have to make use of detour routes.
Kobus Rossouw told the publication that he has to drive a detour of about 10 kilometres. “The route to the landfill site is not easily accessible and people are now dumping their rubbish along the route.” In addition, the detour caused massive traffic congestion in the mornings.
Ward Councillor Baba Sebolao said he was frustrated with the delay and that the detour wasted time. “We appreciate the development, but it has taken too long to be completed. We travel to the East often and it’s really frustrating. The project is great and it will add value to our properties and it will also make access to the East easy and simple to reach the township.”
According to Corne Strauss, the fact that the bridge and road is still closed is frustrating, as the detour is not safe. “Firstly, it a far stretch to drive so you lose a lot of time while travelling. Secondly, the condition the detour is in is horrendous, especially the Ferreira Road. The road to the cemetery is also in a very bad condition.”
After numerous enquiries to various government departments and the Municipality, Bloemfontein Courant did not manage to obtain comment before going to press.