Road draws mixed reactions

Construction on the new road and bridges over the railway line has already started in the South of Bloemfontein. PHOTO: PIERCE VAN HEERDEN

Residents in the south of Bloemfontein have had to reroute when travelling to work as the project to extend Vereeniging Drive officially kicked off on 1 June.

According to a statement by the Manguang Metro Municipality (MMM), the road will be closed and detours will be in effect until the bridge connecting Vereeniging Drive with Vereeniging Drive Extension is completed.

Although some people agree that the construction of the new road will improve traffic flow in the area, some residents in the south didn’t take the road closures too well. Caroline Kruger, who lives
in Fauna, said that it is complete chaos at the moment and that their tyres will not last because of how the road looks now while the construction is being done.

Noma Mkhuzangwe, who also lives in Fauna, said that Vereeniging Drive has not been
in a good condition for quite some time. It is now in a worse condition since it has been scraped in several areas. This makes it a challenge to drive on. It is now a gravel road with tar here and there and their cars are always dirty. “It has been like this for about three weeks and is developing potholes and becoming unsafe and more challenging to drive on.”

Another resident from Fichardt Park who travels to Hamilton for work every day, said that what used to take her 7 minutes, now takes her 20 minutes due to traffic in that area. “I will be trying a different route today to try and avoid the traffic.”

However, the company responsible for the construction of the road, said the discomfort caused by the construction won’t last too long. According to Managing Director from Raubex, Ean Steenkamp, they are currently on target for the programme projection and will complete this project on time at the end of May 2022.

He explained that they will be doing the extension of Vereeniging Drive and construction of 2 bridges over a railway line with an interchange. Steenkamp said that this contract is for joining the existing Vereeniging Drive’s dual carriageways with the existing (currently being upgraded) Vereeniging Drive Extension Road. This includes constructing a new interchange, aligning Ferreira Road and the construction of 2 bridges over the existing railway lines (each of the Vereeniging Drive carriageways).

He explained to Bloemfontein Courant that the project was awarded to their company in February 2021 and is scheduled to be completed by the end of May 2022.

He also said, because they are excavating very close to the railway line while trains are still using the railway line, as well as constructing some of the piers and bases for the bridge crossing, they are required to do track bracing.

“We have had some issues with several sites, including ours, being shut down on several occasions due to the community and forums having issues and grievances with the client. To enable free and fair appointments of subcontractors for this project, we had to advertise the work and set the subcontractor works out on tender.”

Meanwhile the MMM said they have identified the following detours:

1. Vereeniging Drive via Memorium/Ferreira/Monument Road towards Oliver Tambo Road.

2. Vereeniging Drive via Ferreira/Taxi Street towards Oliver Tambo Road. At the robots at the end of Vereeniging Drive, there will be a temporary dual- carriageway route that goes right and drives straight along Ferreira Road – Taxi Street – M30 and behind South Park cemetery.

Sazly Hartzenberg