JOHANNESBURG - Small,  medium and micro enterprise (SMME) development and job creation in eThekwini received a boost from the R1.1 billion Mount Edgecombe Interchange project.

A total of 31 sub-contractors were employed during the project for work to the value of R59 million that to date was performed by 21 SMMEs.

In addition, at the peak in construction, 803 people were employed by the contractor on the project, of which 724 were from the eThekwini target area.

To date, a total of R240 million was also spent on wages.  The project engaged 80 designers at the peak of the design phase, with not a single road permanently closed during construction.

The interchange was officially opened by transport minister Blade Nzimande on Tuesday, five years after the first pile was driven into the ground for the major road upgrade.

The SA National Roads Agency (Sanral) awarded the contract for the upgrading of the intersection of the N2 and M41 to ease chronic congestion.  The construction was jointly funded by Sanral and KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport and was undertaken by the South African branch of Italian construction company CMC di Ravenna.

The Minister of Transport Blade Nzimande officially opens the Mt Edgecombe Interchange. With him, from left, are SANRAL CEO Skhumbuzo Macozoma; Rob Haswell, SANRAL Board member; Deputy Minister of Transport, Sindisiwe Chikunga; and Lindy Madlala, SANRAL Board member.

Nzimande the interchange project was a fine example of infrastructure development that had many spin-offs, including contributing greatly to easing traffic congestion, promoting road safety and being a  significant business enabler.

Skhumbuzo Macozoma, the chief executive of Sanral, said the interchange was one of the largest projects undertaken by Sanral in KwaZulu-Natal and a vital artery of the greater eThekwini metropolitan highway system that had greatly contributed to SMME development.

Macozoma said the expansion of the uMhlanga and La Lucia Ridge areas had led to the existing interchange operating at capacity, with vehicles backing up on the M41 and onto the N2 in peak hours.

“An additional 40 000 vehicles were entering or leaving the N2 from the M41 daily, resulting in substantial queueing of vehicles during the day.  

“This, together with expected future expansions and development of the Cornubia area, required the existing interchange to be upgraded to improve the flow to and from the N2 and M41 to the supporting road network,” he said. 

The new four-level interchange facility provides at least two lanes on each of the major movements, with the upgrade including the implementation of directional ramps, which eliminated the need for controlled signalisation, thereby ensuring the free flow of traffic in all directions.

Two bridges form part of the interchange upgrade, with one at 948 metres long, the longest incrementally launched bridge in South Africa. It joins the Mt Edgecombe side of the M41 with the N2 South.

It has 23 piers and two abutments and was built from two ends, with one portion launched on a curve and the other on a straight.

The other bridge is 440 metres long and joins the uMhlanga side of the M41 with the N2 North.

A pedestrian bridge has been constructed over the N2 to cater for the safety of pedestrians and will connect to new footways.

To improve safety, lighting has been installed to ensure the whole interchange was lit at night.