Motorists in the Pretoria city centre have been urged to consider lift clubs for the next two days to allow the implementation of road closures for the construction of the A Re Yeng bus rapid transit infrastructure to stabilise.
In addition, the city has advised people to practise the basics of surviving the impact of the closures.
These include avoiding peak times, finding alternative and convenient routes, leaving workplaces later or even working from home.
“General behaviour is that we are likely to witness earlier arrival into the city centre – about 6.30am – as well as later departures, up to 6pm,” said Manale.
Those who work or live in the heart of the capital city woke up this morning to find Paul Kruger Street closed between Boom and Madiba streets, as the construction of the inception phase of A Re Yeng shifts to the area. The closures were effected at about 2am and will remain until at least the end of April.
The affected sections have been closed to traffic and access limited to shop owners, employees and delivery vehicles, who will be required to produce special permits. The City of Tshwane started to allocate the permits to registered businesses and individuals yesterday afternoon.
Motorists have been asked to take note of the detours and adhere to the traffic signage and speed limits. All parking along the affected roads has been removed and part of the sidewalks is now inaccessible.
Manale said “typical inner city motorists” should anticipate heavy gridlock and extremely slow traffic in the affected areas.
There were plans to set up a temporary parking facility, but Manale said a secure, cost-effective and convenient site had yet to be identified, as the place would require traffic impact assessment, car guards, exits and entrances as well as fire extinguishers.
The much-awaited Oscar Pistorius murder trial from March 3 in the high court is also expected to draw lots of attention and possibly add to the traffic congestion.
Manale said the municipality was part of a special task team set up by the office of the judge president to deal with the matter.
But the city spokesman said at the moment, there had not been any special measures as the trial would mainly attract members of the media and perhaps a few picketers when Pistorius appeared.
The city has come in for some stick regarding communicating the closures to the public, but Manale said they were generally happy about how the matter was handled.
He said the city continuously communicated with the residents about the project and road closures.
“However, we have not done our best in advising on how to travel sustainably and minimise the irritation and impatience impact of any extended traffic gridlock,” he added. “The challenge has always been that if communicated too early, residents and communities tend to forget.”
First we heard of it – city dwellers
MOST people people Pretoria News spoke to yesterday said they had no knowledge of the road closures until yesterday when flyers were distributed.
Thorn Motseo, from Pretoria Secondary School, said that he already had to walk far from school to catch a bus on Paul Kruger Street.
With the bus route relocating for the duration of the construction, he said there was a possibility the bus stop might be even further away.
Joy Ngobeni, who uses Paul Kruger Street daily, said: “I was very surprised to learn about the road closure, but I knew it was bound to happen sooner or later because construction had already started in the north of Pretoria.”
A man who declined to be named said: “You are lucky if the government tells you anything. Now I don’t know where I am going to park because I work in the inner city and have always parked on Paul Kruger Street. The government really should learn to inform us early about major changes that affect our lives.”
Jerry Mothea said he was disappointed that motorists were not notified early enough of the closures.
Mac Maluleka also expressed his frustration, saying: “I only read about the changes this morning in the newspaper.
“This is going to be very difficult for me because I come from far and wake up early to beat traffic. Now there is no point because I am going to be caught in traffic right here in the CBD,” he added. – Lerato Khumalo