Top Gear is all about fast cars, but the festival has left many motorists furious as Durban traffic gridlocked yesterday because of road closures prior to the weekend motoring festival.
Many motorists heading north took the N3 freeway to feed onto the N2 freeway, which also caused a back-up of traffic feeding out of the city last night with huge delays reported between Tollgate Bridge and Spaghetti Junction.
According to Ethekwini Metro spokesman, Senior Superintendent Eugene Msomi, the roads had to remain closed as the track for the Top Gear Festival had yet to be completed.
Msomi also confirmed last night that the M4 Ruth First Freeway and Masabalala Yengwa (NMR) Avenue, between Argyle and Goble roads, would remain closed for the weekend.
Authorities have warned there will be more of the same today and tomorrow as thousands of motoring enthusiasts flood the area around Moses Mahbida Stadium.
Twitter and Facebook sites were swamped with complaints from frustrated drivers after rush hour turned into chaos last night.
But not all motorists were upset, with Tweets such as “following a parade of super cars driving home from work, not complaining” and “insane traffic, but so worth it! Top Gear Festival this weekend” adding to the Twitter buzz.
Msomi urged motorists to avoid the Moses Mabhida Stadium precinct if possible. “That area will be so congested, and we are encouraging people to stay away from that area if you can.”
He added that people heading towards the beachfront during the weekend should use the south and central entry points, avoiding the northern routes.
The hospitality industry, meanwhile, was smiling as visitors poured into the city for the third weekend in a row.
The bumper winter season started with thousands of runners arriving for the Comrades Marathon two weeks ago, while the win for the Springboks against the English last weekend saw rugby supporters celebrating until the early hours.
Late yesterday, Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa (Fedhasa) operations manager, Warren Ozzard said thousands of visitors from Gauteng were expected for the Top Gear Festival, while the Durban Surf Carnival will keep visitors entertained at the beach.
“The organisers are hoping 60 000 tickets are sold and a lot of those will come from Johannesburg bringing the Gauteng rands to our pockets.
“The only drawback is traffic on the roads between the stadium and Umhlanga,” said Ozzard.
And according to the vice-president of the National Accommodation Association for B&B’s, Heather Hunter, there were calls throughout the day from visitors looking for last-minute B&B accommodation.
At Moses Mabhida Stadium, it was a hive of activity with the Top Gear presenters, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May arriving mid-morning yesterday for a photo-call with MEC for Economic Development and Tourism, Mike Mabuyakhulu and Ethekwini Council speaker Logie Naidoo.
Looking ready for a weekend of exciting motoring action, Naidoo said the festival was another feather in the cap for the city. “These events keep us in the limelight, and boosts Durban’s profile as a destination for events,” he said.