The long and winding road may now be the daily routine for many Gauteng motorists trying to avoid those gantries. Brendan Roane drove along the alternative routes that they could use.
PRETORIA TO JOBURG
The R101 can take a motorist all the way from the Marlboro exit off the M1 highway to Pretoria central. Pretoria Main Road is about 40km long and becomes Old Pretoria Main Road, then Old Johannesburg Road in the Samrand area.
This route mostly runs parallel to the highway and you can see an e-toll gantry from Pretoria Main Road, a distant reminder as to why you may need to travel a narrow and winding side road.
This route changes between a one- and two-lane road and slow-moving trucks often hold the traffic back. “The layer of tar here is very thin and heavy trucks driving on this road will damage it more,” said Mustapha Dirksen, a maintenance supervisor on Old Pretoria Main Road.
The road peaks and troughs along the hilly landscape, creating tar bowls where water collects. When these basins are filled, they slow traffic and sometimes stop it altogether. “The drainage system is not good; the water raises up so high that cars can’t get past sometimes” said Dirksen, adding that the road will need reconstruction and improved water channels if this problem is to be resolved.
However, not everybody thinks increased traffic will be a bad thing.
“I will, of course, be happy (if traffic increases), it will benefit us,” said Pieter Liebenberg, the manager of an Engen garage along the route.
Riaan Strydom, the owner of a used-car dealership a few kilometres up the road, agreed, but said the condition of the road would become “worse quickly” if more motorists drove along it.
“Someone once said the rich get richer and the poor get poorer: that’s what is happening (with the e-tolls),” said Patrick Buthelezi, a taxi driver who works between Pretoria and Joburg.
“The government forgets, if someone is hungry, they are dangerous,” said Buthelezi.
SOWETO TO RANDBURG
This route spans over 30km and is still under a fair amount of construction, largely due to the introduction of Rea Vaya bus lanes.
“Many people call it ‘Killer Road’,” said Rasta Oliver, a street vendor on the corner of Klipspruit Valley Road and Moroka Nancefield Road. He sells drinks, snacks and has a window-tinting business that he operates from the roadside.
He often sees accidents there, although there there have been fewer incidents this year. Oliver hoped the increased traffic flow would also help his window-tinting business, as more people may see him on their journeys.
There are no street lights along New Canada Road and one side of the dual carriageway is closed off due to construction.
Motorists travelling in opposite directions at night or early in the morning have to share the open side of the road where there is no lighting. There are few road signs warning of the rerouted road.
Lesego Tumisang, who was moving into a new flat along New Canada Road, said although traffic along the road may increase, she did not think it would affect the area or the quality of the road much. “When there are problems, they fix it quickly,” she said.
This road is smooth and has no noticeable potholes.
Eventually, the motorist will reach Beyers Naudé Drive, which becomes a three-lane road. However, there are speed cameras and heavy rush-hour traffic congestion on that stretch.
If a motorist is caught driving 70km/h in a 60km/h zone on this route, they will be fined R250, according to the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act.
This amount of money equates to the toll costs of about nine trips along the e-tolled N1 Western Bypass from the Golden Highway in Soweto to Beyers Naudé Drive in Randburg.
ALBERTON TO SANDTON
An insurance broker who travels around Gauteng every day has come up with a means to avoid paying full e-toll fees.
Sol Painter, who is on the road “all day, every day”, registered his car in another province and will buy a visitor’s permit for travelling on the e-tolled roads. He was able to do this because he owns property in that province. “There is nothing they can do (to stop me),” said Painter. He does not think that authorities will even bother charging him because his car is also registered in another province.
He takes the route The Star travelled from Alberton to Sandton, using the Heidelberg Road, through Berea and Yeoville, Houghton and finally Rosebank. This 23km trip took less than an hour to complete in off-peak traffic.
Milton Ngcobo, a petrol pump attendant at garage along the Heidelberg Road said there was already a large amount of traffic during peak hours and more traffic would result in people waiting even longer to get to and from work. “I already avoid the national roads because of congestion. Now it will be chaos,” said Johan Snyman, from Vereeniging, who was waiting for a business partner just off Heidelberg Road.
He conceded that the e-toll system would create jobs, but believed that it would add a burden to motorists. Pedestrians waiting to cross the road may have to wait even longer, too. Heidelberg Road is a main arterial route and heavy trucks use it often.
The traffic lights at a pedestrian crossing has a button that people can push to change the traffic light to green for them to cross. But on one side of the road, this button is broken. People have to wait for a gap in the traffic before running across. Along this route, The Star was mostly restricted to 60km/h and saw speed cameras and two roadblocks by the Joburg metro police. -The Star