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Durban - A clash of two major events in Durban at the weekend is likely to result in severe traffic congestion in and around Kings Park Rugby Stadium and the beachfront area.
The ANC will be holding its 101st birthday rally at the stadium on Saturday, while 500m away Durban Country Club is hosting the international Volvo Golf Tournament with top players.
Traffic congestion is likely to start on Friday morning with a marathon party on North Beach, hosted by the ANC.
Metro police spokesman Eugene Msomi said: “There will be a beach party on Friday starting around 10am and lasting until 6am the following day and we are expecting about 10 000 people for that.
“As a consequence, we may have to effect road closures as per our festive season plan and allow only people with permits to go through.”
At least 120 000 people from around the country are expected for the ANC rally at Kings Park.
Metro police say at least 200 buses carrying party supporters will arrive in Durban.
Msomi said they expected traffic on the M4/Ruth First highway and Umgeni Road to be very heavy because Masabalala Yengwa (NMR) Avenue would be closed from Friday. He recommended that motorists find alternative routes.
The ANC rally is expected to be well attended after President Jacob Zuma secured a landslide victory to serve a second term as ANC president at the party’s elective conference in Mangaung in December.
The eThekwini region is Zuma’s biggest support base and the ANC’s biggest region nationally.
In addition, it is the start of the ANC’s second century in existence.
The party’s top officials have been crisscrossing the province at various rallies and events over the past few days.
The Volvo Golf Tournament features top stars such as Ernie Els and Padraig Harrington and, with a purse of R22.5 million, the golf tournament is expected to draw a crowd of 15 000 to 20 000 spectators on Saturday alone. It starts tomorrow.
Msomi said 500 metro police officers would be on duty on Saturday to ensure there were no hiccups.
Parking for those attending the ANC rally had been set aside at Centrum parking, SunCoast Casino, the old Natal Command site, the old drive-in site and at The Workshop Shopping Centre.
Golfing tournament spokeswoman Lali Stander said spectators would be taken in shuttles from their allocated parking areas across the road from the Durban Country Club.
Stander said to ensure that no players missed Saturday's tee-off, their times had been adjusted.
“The starting time for Saturday's third round has been pushed back to 10.40am to give players, officials and spectators ample time to get to the course should the traffic be congested due to the rally,” she said.
Gerhard Patzer, chief executive of the Durban Country Club, said they had held meetings with the police over the past few weeks and he was confident there would be no problems because of the proximity to the ANC rally, especially as it was a “victory rally”, not a “confrontational one”.
He said parking for those attending the rally had been set aside on the field next to the swimming pool.
Patzer, who also serves as KZN chief executive of the hospitality body Fedhasa, said the golfing event was fantastic for tourism as it had extended the Durban holiday season. All hotels were fully booked at a time when holidaymakers were usually going home. - The Mercury