Chaotic traffic jams and a surge in crime around a massive new interchange being constructed over the N2, linking Umgeni Road with Reservoir Hills and Newlands, are frustrating businesses and the public around Springfield.
They said construction of the R360 million interchange was having a major effect on productivity and the bottom line.
To make matters worse, the project, intended to alleviate traffic bottlenecks, has been hit by construction delays and is to be completed only in May next year.
Business people and managers met at Makro Springfield on Wednesday to discuss their concerns. They formed the Springfield Business Forum Action Committee to get the South African National Roads Agency Ltd (Sanral) and eThekwini Municipality to deal with the issue.
“We all have gripes and it cannot continue like this because businesses are ultimately feeling it in their pockets,” said Bert Schultz, the risk manager at Makro Springfield.
“We get customers complaining daily about the traffic chaos and even our staff and delivery vehicles are affected.
“Another major issue is that criminal activity has increased due to construction of the interchange, particularly at night, due to poor lighting and traffic lights being defective.
“There have been numerous reports of people being robbed, including staff of businesses in the area.”
Schultz said the business people were not against the project, but it was not being handled well by the authorities.
Shahid Gannie, a manager of the Engen service station near the interchange, said he had lodged complaints with Sanral about the rise in crime, but nothing had been done.
“There have been smash-and-grabs in addition to pedestrians being robbed. There needs to be better lighting and security in and around the construction site.
“The metro police also need to do a much better job in directing traffic flow when robots are out of order. Traffic officers must be there during the peak traffic hours of 6am to 9am and 4pm to 6pm.”
Wynand Lottering, the owner of CTM, said the metro police seemed to be turning a blind eye to the chaos.
“At night it is even worse when the robots don’t work and you have street sellers and street kids trying to direct traffic from four directions.”
Sanral and city officials were not at the meeting. The group said they would draft a letter on their position and set up a meeting with authorities.
Sanral did not respond to questions from The Mercury at the time of going to press on Wednesday.
Concerned businesses wanting to join the committee may send an e-mail to Bert.Schultz@Makro.co.za