Motorists have been warned to plan carefully as numerous fuel stops on the N3 are closed for renovation. File picture: Karen Sandison.
Durban - The N3 Toll Concession has warned motorists using the N3 highway to be keep in mind that numerous fuel stations along the route are closed.

The company, which manages the N3 highway between Heidelberg and Cedara, said it had seen a sharp increase in the number of motorists running out of fuel as a result of the closure of the petrol ­stations.

“During April this year, 17 vehicles ran out of fuel, and a further 13 vehicles in May; but since June (and the closure of the fuel stations) these figures have more than doubled.

"Forty-six vehicles ran dry in June and required assistance, and in July another 51 vehicles - the highest number ever - ran out of fuel on the N3 Toll Route,” the company said.

In KwaZulu-Natal, the Tugela Engen 1 Stop on the N3 northbound and the Shell Ultra City garages near Estcourt on both lanes are closed.

In the Free State, the station near Balmoral or before Harrismith when travelling south, is also closed. It is expected that the closure will last for about four months to allow for renovations.

This means that no fuel stops are available along the N3 Toll Route between Van Reenen’s Pass and Estcourt.

“To avoid the risks and discomfort of being stranded along a busy national road, it is essential that travellers plan alternative fuel stops in advance,” said company transport engineer, Miles le Roux.

The company said fuel stops near Heidelberg, Villiers, Harrismith, Van Reenen’s Pass, Estcourt and Nottingham Road were operational.

Meanwhile, high traffic volumes have been recorded on the N3 since Wednesday afternoon, and these are expected to peak again on Sunday afternoon, especially on the northbound lanes, when travellers head back to the inland provinces after the long weekend.

Between 11am and noon yesterday, a total of 1470 cars passed the Mooi Plaza heading towards the cost, while the number of those travelling towards Harrismith was 750.

The Mercury