Road upgrade in heart of citrus country sweetening life for local community

In an effort to improve safety, reduce transportation challenges, and bolster economic activities, the South African National Roads Agency SOC Limited (SANRAL) has nearly completed a significant upgrade to the national route connecting the charming citrus towns of Addo and Kirkwood in the Eastern Cape.

The R336, which has long been a source of frustration for locals transporting produce to market, is undergoing a transformation that promises to bring relief to farmers and residents in the Sundays River Valley.

The R275-million project in the Sarah Baartman District Municipality has reached over 75% completion, with the entire upgrade expected to be fully operational by June 2024. The initiative, designed to improve 13.75km of the R336, aims to address safety concerns, enhance road quality, and stimulate economic growth in the region.

Craig Hendricks, SANRAL project manager in the Southern Region, highlighted the multifaceted benefits of the project, including increased safety measures, reduced maintenance needs for vehicles, and decreased dust and noise pollution due to the implementation of asphalt road surfacing.

Safety issues such as speed limits, pedestrian sidewalks, and traffic calming measures are integral to the upgrade. The existing pavement structure has reached the end of its design life and has deteriorated to a level that is now inad equate to withstand the traffic loading, -Hendricks explained.

The project has not only had a positive impact on the local infrastructure but has also contributed significantly to job creation. As of December, it has generated 373 full-time equivalent jobs, with a focus on adult females and female youth, providing an earnings total exceeding R10-million. Workers on the project have also received training valued at R550,000 from accredited training providers.

Hendricks acknowledged the cooperation between the Project Liaison Committee (PLC), contractor Roadmac Surfacing Cape (Pty) Ltd, and the consultant’s site staff. He praised the communication efforts among PLC members, facilitated through a WhatsApp group, which kept the public informed about daily plans for traffic accommodation.

Despite challenges during the busy citrus harvesting season, from April to September, the project successfully managed traffic accommodation without major issues or production losses. SANRAL’s community engagement roadshows further contributed to the project’s smooth progression.

Hendricks emphasized that the improved alternative routes created for temporary traffic accommodation would benefit the community beyond the completion of the project, leaving a positive legacy for the region.

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