Pretoria - Thousands of workers heading into the Pretoria city centre were stuck in massive traffic congestion on Monday morning - and the situation is unlikely to improve over the next few days.
Mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa told the Pretoria News there were going to be disruptions to people’s lives in and around the CBD for the duration of the national week of mourning declared by President Jacob Zuma following the death of Nelson Mandela on December 5.
Mandela’s mortal remains will lie in state at the amphitheatre at the Union Buildings from Wednesday until Friday.
To create the memorial route on which Madiba’s procession will travel from 1 Military Hospital to the Union Buildings for the next three days, construction on the Bus Rapid Transit was halted temporarily and the roads resurfaced. Other roads were closed to traffic since the weekend.
This resulted in heavy traffic congestion on Monday. A special City of Tshwane council sitting to commemorate and celebrate the life of Madiba was also delayed by an hour as some of the officials were stuck in the traffic.
There will be intensified law enforcement and dedicated service provision on the route until the end of the week. The Bus Rapid Transit construction will resume at the end of the mourning period.
Some of the following roads that were temporarily closed were due to reopen on Tuesday morning. They are Madiba Street from Paul Kruger to Lilian Ngoyi, Thabo Sehume Street from Johannes Ramokhoase to Pretorius, and Pretorius Street from Lilian Ngoyi to Paul Kruger.
The mayor said the difficulty was that, unlike during the Fifa World Cup in 2010, when the number of visitors could be estimated based on the capacity of stadiums, the city had no idea how many people would be arriving to bid farewell to the father of South Africa’s democracy.
“The key word to the people of the city during this time is patience. There is only so much we can do in the middle of this challenge that we are facing. However, despite the challenges, we are determined to be good hosts,” he said.
“We would like to humbly urge everyone to be patient. Your daily and normal lives in and around the city centre are going to be disrupted during the next few days.”
Ramokgopa also announced that the city would be hosting a delegation from the Gauteng provincial government in the city hall tomorrow, which would include representatives of other municipalities from across the province.
From the city hall, the delegation will proceed to the Union Buildings to view Madiba’s remains before the general public get their chance from noon.
The city is also hosting its official memorial service at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Thursday at 2pm.