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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

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The eThekwini Municipality has widened the pavements in a section of the CBD and people are up in arms

The new section of pavement added to Anton Lembede Street in the Durban central business district. Picture: eThekwini Municipality./Facebook

The new section of pavement added to Anton Lembede Street in the Durban central business district. Picture: eThekwini Municipality./Facebook

Published Aug 4, 2022


Durban - Durban residents have much to say about the eThekwini Municipality’s new upgrade to a section along Anton Lembede Street, (formerly Smith Street) in the Durban central business district in KwaZulu-Natal.

The City posted images of the new improvements on Facebook on Wednesday, which included an extended pavement section between Dorothy Nyembe and Dr Yusuf Dadoo (Gardner and Grey) streets.

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The construction of the new pavement saw the City lay down bricks next to the older concrete pavement.

New bins and traffic billboards were also added, the City said.

“After months of construction work and traffic disruptions, the Anton Lembede Street upgrade is complete. Pedestrians walking along the left-hand side of Anton Lembede Street between Dorothy Nyembe and Yusuf Dadoo streets will now enjoy a wider pavement which reduces congestion,” eThekwini Municipality said.

But residents were not too pleased with the City’s decision to extend the pavement, which reduced the number of lanes for motorists in the process.

Anton Lembede is home to many taxi ranks and also forms part of a commonly used taxi route, where drivers branch off onto the M4 southbound to get to various destinations around eThekwini.

The section of the road near the ICESA college, at the M4 and Anton Lembede intersection, is usually gridlocked with minibus taxis and cars during peak hours, prior to the pavement extension project.

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The post by the City racked up nearly 600 comments, most of which questioned why the City decided to reduce the number of lanes in its central business district.

One of the things residents touched on was the poor workmanship behind the project.

A triangle pattern put into the pavement using the brick designs was misplaced.

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After months of work, two dark coloured bricks can be still seen out of place on the new improved pavement section on Anton Lembede Street. Picture: eThekwini Municipality/ Facebook.

“But you've taken a five lane road and reduced it to three! There is no sense in this. I remember this road as Smith Street in the 80s and 90s and it was busy then. You have made it worse! Your public transport is rubbish too so, no, people won't leave their cars at home,” said ratepayer Simon Sheppard.

Another ratepayer, Omelia White said: “If there were no traders using up the sidewalk then there would be space for pedestrians. So you've eliminated the problem of pedestrian congestion which is great, but what about the vehicle traffic.”

Manqoba Ka-Singila replied saying: “eThekwini Municipality Here's the challenge for you since you are so desperate for praise for doing what you're supposed to do. You see Warwick Junction, Point area and Russell street by China mall. Clean up there, come back (and) show us pictures when (you) are done.”

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Mfundo Zondo said: “There was no congestion on the Pavement. Y'all have now caused a huge traffic congestion for vehicles on the whole of Anton Lembede Street by reducing lanes from 5 lanes to 3 lanes. This Project needs to be reported & Investigated.”

Shaneel Suknunan said: “Now you can get robbed on a glorious Tuscan designed walkway. Thereafter you can enjoy the tranquillity of the overhanging palm trees while you wait 6 to 8 hours for the police.”

Imraam Moolla said: “eThekwini Municipality, what data did you use to inform this decision? The traffic congestion was bad and is now so much worse than before. It makes no sense to turn a 5 lane to 3. The taxis always double park on 1 lane so essentially you now only have 2 lanes for cars.”

Nosimo Shabalala said: “It's not working out though, the traffic is unbearable after Field Street. I don't know who came up with the idea of reducing lanes, not to mention the cars that are reversing from the parking area on such a busy road.”

IOL sent questions to the City spokesperson, Msawakhe Mayisela, regarding the project.

Among other things, we had asked how much the project cost and why they made the decision to extend the pavement.

We are awaiting a response from the City.