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Pretoria - Chaotic scenes are expected to hit the city centre from tomorrow morning when vehicular access is restricted due to construction of the A Re Yeng bus rapid transit lanes on sections of Paul Kruger Street.
Several roads will be closed due to the construction, and access restricted to workers and tenants who will produce a special permit to be provided by the City of Tshwane.
However, by yesterday there was still no clarity on when the permits would be available, with the city stating that “all businesses and individuals that will be affected by the road closures have been identified and registered”.
About 400 access permits will be issued from Wednesday, according to the city.
Blessing Manale, spokesman for the City of Tshwane, said officials were pleading with the inner city community to endure the inconvenience in anticipation of long-term benefits from the new “world-class bus service”.
“We further advise people to avoid the affected area due to a number of considerations, such as safety, convenience and time wastage,” he said.
The construction forms part of the route that will connect the inner city with Rainbow Junction (Wonderboom Station) in the north of the capital, through Paul Kruger Street and Mansfield Avenue.
The work, expected to be completed by the end of April, will start on Paul Kruger Street between Boom and Madiba streets.
The affected sections will be closed and vehicular access limited to shop owners, employees and delivery vehicles. No general traffic will be allowed except through the intersections.
Motorists have been asked to take note of the detours and adhere to traffic signs and speed limits.
All parking will be removed on these sections, and part of the sidewalks will be affected.
Manale said with the new metro police recruits sufficient officers would be deployed to the affected areas at peak periods to assist with the flow of traffic.
No provision has been made for public transport, and according to Manale, Tshwane bus service would communicate alternate temporary bus stops and pick-up points for passengers in the area.
He said: “In the SME (small and medium business enterprise) vein, we are considering vehicle access restrictions for weight and size to minimise congestion associated with heavy and delivery vehicles.
“In addition, we are considering temporary parking sites for those affected by the construction to ensure that we minimise the impact.”
The inception phase of A re Yeng was originally supposed to start operating in April 1, but this is now impossible due to delays in marketing, training of attendants, unveiling the new buses, control room operation, recruitment of key personnel, tests and dry-runs, as well as integration with taxis, Gautrain and Tshwane bus service.
There are mixed feelings in the business fraternity in the city centre regarding the imminent closure of sections of Paul Kruger Street.
Jay Gajoo, owner of Zoo Café and Takeaways on Paul Kruger Street, said she was already fed up as she was losing customers due to parking difficulties.
Gajoo said she and some of her customers had been given parking tickets. “In the 15 years I've been operating here, this has to be the worst thing to happen to my business,” she said. Dust was a big problem, and her employees were constantly cleaning, she said.
Petrus Mahlangu, a marshal at a taxi pick-up spot on Paul Kruger Street, said the facility was used by about 35 drivers transporting hundreds of passengers daily to and from all corners of the city.
He said closing down sections of the road was going to cause problems and would be bad for business.
Mahlangu said he took exception to a lack of communication from the City of Tshwane.
“No one has ever come here to tell us about the road closures,” he said.
Informal traders, some of whom sell braaied meat, said they would have to relocate to other areas, because of the dust and noise that was going to occur.
Knowledge Chauke, an informal trader at the corner of Struben and Paul Kruger streets, said he knew most vehicles would find an alternative route, so his business would be affected.
Johannes Sithole, who works at a parking lot, said the BRT was good because it would improve public transport options in the city.
Christinah Mhlongo, of Princess Park College located on Paul Kruger Street, said: “Our children play out there in the afternoons while waiting for their transport. Now we have to make sure there are no accidents, because they are going to see a pile of dirt they can play on and might want to jump into the dug-up area.”
From the north:
Turn right into Bloed Street and then use Sophie de Bruyn Street to enter the city. From Sophie de Bruyn Street, use Struben Street or Madiba Street to gain access to the affected sections of Paul Kruger Street.
From the south (inner city):
Turn right into Francis Baard Street and use Bosman Street towards Boom Street, and Boom Street to exit the city. From Bosman Street use Struben Street or Madiba Street to gain access to the affected sections of Paul Kruger Street.