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Plummeting temperatures, heavy rains and snowfall forced traffic authorities to close the N3 from the Cedara Interchange (Hilton) deep into the Free State, to the Wilge Toll Plaza near Villiers.
N3 Toll Concession spokesman, Andy Visser, described conditions as treacherous and cautioned motorists not to travel until the weather cleared.
He said Van Reenen’s Pass, because of snowfalls between Tugela Plaza, Van Reenen and Harrismith, was expected to remain closed on Wednesday.
KZN Department of Transport spokesman, Kwanele Ncalane, said: “The R617 outside Kokstad is closed – cars, two trucks and three buses with occupants are stuck in the snow,” he said. “The transport grader also got stuck in the process of pulling out cars.”
Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC, Nomusa Dube, has placed the province on red alert.
Extreme weather has prompted the closure of 371 schools in the province.
Hardest hit were the uMgungundlovu, Sisonke and Othukela school districts, said KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education spokesman, Sihle Mlotshwa.
The roads have been described as perilous, with several motorists calling the Daily News to say surfaces were “slippery” and “icy” and warning of poor visibility.
“I was forced to pull over because my car was swerving all over the place,” said Ian Isaacs, adding that he witnessed an accident at Nottingham Road.
There are also concerns of fuel supply constraints if the adverse weather conditions persist.
Kevin Martin, chairman of the Durban Harbour Carriers’ Association, said fuel tankers might be delayed and the bad weather might prevent supplies from reaching some inland areas.
Colin Naidoo, spokesman for Airports Company South Africa, said operations at the King Shaka International Airport were not affected.
Merina Willemse, an economist with the Efficient Group, said it was difficult to put a figure on the impact the cold snap would have on the economy. She said some farmers may have lost produce because of heavy rains and hail, but this should not make food prices rise.
Weather forecaster, Wiseman Dlamini, said more snow was expected in the western parts of the province today, including in the Drakensberg. “From Thursday, temperatures should rise slightly.”