Dumisani Nkabinde, regional manager of Sanral Eastern region, said the upgrades were part of the government’s roll-out of Strategic Infrastructure Projects in line with the National Development Plan.
“The N3 upgrades will solve bottlenecks between Durban and Pietermaritzburg. On a daily basis, the N3’s traffic consists of a minimum of 45000 vehicles a day,” he said.
Nkabinde said if the N3 was not upgraded, the potential loss of revenue was around R1bn per annum.
Tenders will only be rolled out once regulatory approvals had been received and land acquisition finalised.
Nkabinde added the programme would stretch over eight years and would aim to increase road safety, ease traffic flows as well as access to and from industrial areas between these two major cities in KwaZulu-Natal.
He said a portion of the tenders would be allocated to black-owned construction companies, and enterprises owned by women, the youth and the disabled.
Shaun Fincham, the director of Blue Trucking based in Pietermaritzburg, said hot spots on the N3 corridor between Pietermaritzburg and Durban needed to be identified.
He said lighting needed to be improved and accident zone warnings installed.
He added transporters would also benefit if the freeway from Port Edward to East London was opened up.
The Durban, Pietermaritzburg and iLembe business chambers have welcomed upgrades.
Melanie Veness, chief executive of the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business, said this necessary work would, hopefully, facilitate the ease of movement of goods along the N3, which is critical for trade.
Palesa Phili, chief executive of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the N3 corridor was a critical link between South Africa’s national economic hubs as well as neighbouring countries who are reliant on the regional ports.
She said upgrading this corridor would create capacity ahead of demand, create better access to KZN’s key ports, facilitate regional trade and integrate the currently disconnected industrial and logistics activities.
Phili added that any upgrade to the N3 corridor needed to be accompanied by concrete programmes to ensure the safety and security of road users, truckers, citizens and road infrastructure.
iLembe Chamber of Commerce chief executive Cobus Oelofse welcomed the N3/N2 upgrades considering the importance of the highways in the transportation of goods from the KZN North Coast.
“The dependency of local industry on the N3 as a corridor to the Gauteng markets is also heavily dependent on the state and capacity of the N2 that connects our economy with the ports of Durban, Dube and Richards Bay.”