Mandela events may snarl Tshwane’s traffic

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South Africa's former president, Nelson Mandela, is being mourned around the world. File photo: Mike Hutchings

Pretoria -

Residents of Pretoria should expect route disruptions and additional traffic delays during the week as the city makes way for the funeral arrangements of former president Nelson Mandela.

On Saturday, Tshwane mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa urged residents to implement alternative travel measures during the time when the statesman’s body was in the capital city.

“Even before the passing on of president Mandela, we have been having major traffic issues as a result of the construction of the BRT (bus rapid transit). We are going to reinstate some of those roads for the duration of the week so that we minimise the disruptions.

“Invariably there are roads that are going to be traffic free, which means traffic is going to migrate to other areas.

“The city will ensure that everyone utilises the park and ride facilities and we minimise vehicle traffic in the CBD,” said Ramokgopa.

He said the city expected people to flow from all walks of life to pay tribute to Madiba. Contingency measures had been put in place to cater for “the high number of daily populations over the city’s normal populations”.

“As a city, we have a disproportionate amount of responsibility as the majority of the ten-day mourning programme in the province will be in this city.

“As the body will be moving, it is important for metro police to be there to be able to manage traffic,” said Ramokgopa.

“There will be major disruptions to normal daily experience because we need to cordon off certain areas. It is important that we alert everyone in the city of Tshwane that unfortunately for the period that the body will be lying in state we need to have contingency measures.”

City manager Jason Ngobeni said the city’s official mourning activities would be held at the 29 000-seater Lucas 'Masterpieces' Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville, west of Pretoria.

Public viewing areas will be in seven regions across the city including Soshanguve, Hammanskraal, Olievenhoutbosch, Mamelodi, and Bronkhorstspruit.

Outside broadcast facilities may be set in the city centre.

After the national official memorial service at FNB Stadium on Tuesday, the city will host its own service on Thursday.

Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane announced on Sunday that many international dignitaries had started arriving in South Africa ahead of Mandela's memorial service and state funeral.

“Thirteen African states have already confirmed their attendance,” he told reporters in Johannesburg.

Representatives of the United Nations and the African Union had also confirmed they would attend.

US president Barack Obama would attend with three former US presidents - Jimmy Carter, George W Bush, and Bill Clinton. They would be travelling with their wives.

Government announced on Saturday that Mandela's coffin would be taken through the streets of Pretoria in a cortege every morning from Wednesday to Friday - when he will lie in state at the Union Buildings after a memorial service on Tuesday in Soweto's 94 000-seat Soccer City.

“We are going to be encouraging members of the public to be lining the streets... as the body goes through the streets of Pretoria to the Union Buildings,” government communications director Neo Momodu said in Johannesburg.

She added that tight security would be in place on buses following the former president's body to the hill-top seat of government, including a camera ban.

“They will get on a bus that will be driven and controlled. It is not a free-for-all.”

The procession is part of 10 days of official mourning for Mandela, leading up to his state funeral in Qunu next Sunday. - Sapa

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