Road upgrade nearing completion

Work in progress on the P700 - PHOTO: Orrin Singh

ONGOING road construction on the P700 towards Ntambanana is set to be completed in the 2018/19 financial year.

This is according to the Department of Transport (DoT), who provided the ZO with a report last week detailing progress of the project.

An amount of R1.6-billion was been budgeted for the construction and upgrade of the P700 which began in 2003, of which R 1.1-billion has been spent on design,
supervision and construction to date.

The project entails upgrading 94.5km of gravel road and the rehabilitation of 1.5km of surfaced road to a blacktop surface.

So far 78km of the road has been upgraded from gravel to blacktop since 2003/04, with a further 8.5km of blacktop scheduled to be complete in the current financial year.

This also involves the upgrade of P701, P702, D1733, P253 and the Bukunana loop road.

D1733 provides access to a coal mine, while D253 is a continuation of P700.

The Bukunana loop road will increase the community’s access to public transport.

According to the DoT, the P700 is an important route which provides access to historical and cultural areas for both tourists and locals, such as the Ondini Cultural Museum, the King Cetshwayo Royal Kraal and Thula Thula Private Game Reserve – PHOTO: Orrin Singh

Important route
According to DoT, the P700 links the communities of Mpongose, Ximba, Biyela and Ntambanana and allows access to numerous primary and high schools, clinics and hospitals, and commercial economic activities.

This therefore highlights it as an important route which also provides access to historical and cultural areas for both tourists and locals, such as the Ondini Cultural Museum, the King Cetshwayo Royal Kraal and Thula Thula Private

Game Reserve.
There is both residential and agricultural development along this route, which allows access to economic hubs along the corridor.

Challenges
While many have labelled the progress of the construction and upgrade of the P700 as slow and drawn out, the DoT has attributed this to certain challenges that have been met during the course of project.

Supply of base course material from local suppliers has been highlighted as a problem as they do not have enough stockpiled material.

A remedial measure of identifying alternative sources has been implemented.

According to the DoT, material on site has been identified, tested for quality and a submission for approval to crush this material for the base layer has been made.

The department also noted that poor weather has delayed progress to an extent, however they reiterated that contractors have been requested to carry on with alternate work whenever weather conditions affected road construction.

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