Picture : Bruce Sutherland

Pretoria - The Tshwane Metro Council is pushing ahead with the closure of Paul Kruger Street – one of the main routes in and out of Pretoria’s inner city as part of its Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project.

The closure of Paul Kruger Street to certain types of traffic also forms part of the metro council’s Operation Reclaim.

This project involves the relocation of taxi ranks and the beautification and widening of sidewalks in Lilian Ngoyi (Van der Walt) and Sisulu (Prinsloo) streets, between Madiba (Vermeulen) and Pretorius streets, as well as Helen Joseph Street (Church) between Du Toit and Sisulu (Prinsloo) streets.

Access control will be enforced in Lilian Ngoyi and Sisulu streets, between Pretorius and Madiba streets.

This is to restrict through-traffic and to create a safer pedestrian precinct.

Only the following vehicle categories will have access:

* People with allocated private or business off-street parking within the project area.

* Delivery vehicles (only for shops and businesses within the demarcated areas).

* Business owners and employees (off-street parking).

* Official vehicles on official duty.

* The clients of businesses (to be limited to available parking).

No informal trading will be allowed in these areas.

Registered traders will be allowed in officially allocated areas in Helen Joseph Street.

A notice in the Government Gazette said Paul Kruger Street would be closed to certain types of traffic between Nana Sita Street (Skinner) and the Wonderboom railway station.

The BRT route starts at the intersection of Paul Kruger and Nana Sita streets. It proceeds north along Mansfield Road up to the junction with Paul Kruger Street.

Stations will be situated on Paul Kruger Street, south of Church Square; Paul Kruger, between Struben and Johannes Ramokhoase (Proes) streets; Paul Kruger, north of Boom Street and Mansfield Road in Eloffsdal.

It was stated in a report submitted to the city council that the BRT would be located on a transit mall in Paul Kruger Street.

The mall would have six-metre-wide pavements so it would be pedestrian-friendly.

The only vehicles allowed to operate around the transit mall would be BRT buses and emergency vehicles.

No on-street parking would be allowed at the transit mall or within the Church Square precinct.

The report said a number of properties along the route would be affected.

Existing businesses that were reliant on deliveries would be compromised, “in particular the numerous furniture shops located on this street”, it said.

Landowners whose properties were affected by access closure could lodge a complaint against the municipality, the report said.

To address the envisaged problems, four zones have been proposed for the upgrading of Paul Kruger Street.

These are:

* Government departments with tourist-focused retail shops, cafés and approaches to museum zone (south of Nana Sita Street).

* Government and support service (Nana Sita Street to Church Square).

* Government, leisure and tourism (Church Square).

* Zoo-related retail and tourism, government, and heritage (Church Square to the Pretoria Zoo).

It has been suggested that limited and controlled vehicle access be allowed into the area and that no through-traffic be allowed.

DA councillor Roelof Fourie said the proposed closures “will have a profound impact on the character and functioning of the CBD”.

“There are too many unanswered questions,” he said.

Fourie said it was not clear how these closures would influence the east-west traffic flow through the city.

It was also not clear what the plans were with the Tshwane Bus Service as far as these changes were concerned, he said.

There was no mention of any “park-and-ride” facilities outside the city centre “as is the case in other cities in the world where this concept was implemented”.

Particulars of the proposed BRT route, plans and reports, as well as the stations may be inspected during office hours until December 14.

The documents are available from the office of the Project Work Stream Leader; IRPT/BRT Infrastructure Implementation, Infotech Building, 1090 Arcadia Street, Hatfield.

The phone number, for Clifford Malimabe, is 012 358 6379, fax 086 260 4059, or e-mail [email protected]

Any objections to or representations in respect of the proposed routes and/or stations must be lodged with the Project Work Stream Leader; IRPT/BRT Infrastructure Implementation at the above address in writing by not later than December 14.

Should no objections be received, the metro council says, it will be entitled to proceed on December 15 with the implementation of the proposed route and construction of the proposed stations.

Pretoria News