Motorists using the R21 road can breathe a sigh of relief as the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) is expecting to reopen all four lanes on the road in August of 2024. The agency reduced the road to two lanes in the direction of Pretoria, just after the Olifantsfontein interchange due to the formation of two sinkholes two years ago.
This led to peak hours congestion and increasing travelling time for commuters and motorists.
Sanral Northern Region Project Manager Oakley Van Eyk said the reason it took more than two years to fix the sinkhole was because of complex engineering problems particularly given the limited access due to the power lines that cross this section of the R21. Van Eyk said for complex work like that Sanral had to acquire a specialist geotechnical engineering company, Jones & Wagener, which was tasked to investigate the R21 sinkholes. Following the investigation, geophysical testing and extensive percussion drilling had to be conducted to establish the extent of the poor dolomitic conditions and provide input into the design of remedial measures, explained the project manager.
“Thereafter, results from the various testing procedures had to be interpreted and remedial actions formulated through a formal design process to ensure the design was both technically appropriate and the most cost-effective solution.
As a state-owned company, Sanral must adhere to instructions from the National Treasury in terms of all its procurement processes. As such, following the above, a formal tender process for invited specialist contractors had to be followed, after which the contractor Raubex/Esor Joint venture was appointed,” said Van Eyk.
Sanral’s project manager said road users should expect traffic delays and disruptions during the project, as some lanes would be reduced to carry out work.
Furthermore, he said to minimise delays the workers would carry out their work in the evening, outside of the peak traffic hours, between the hours of 19:00 and 05:00.
“Normal traffic flows to be restored at the end of August 2024”.
Tau Letsoenyo, Tembisa taxi driver welcomed Sanral’s announcement saying that it was about time that the agency worked on the road.
Letsoenyo said it was a nightmare for taxi drivers to pass through the road in the morning as traffic was too congested and that resulted in them spending more time on the road.
“That reduction of lanes cost many of us as we could not meet our target because we spent most of our time on traffic as opposed to working. Now that construction has begun things will be better,” he said.
Tini Mosia of Germiston also echoed Letsoenyo’s sentiments by saying they spent a lot of time on the road which resulted in them losing money as opposed to making it.
“We are glad that the work is beginning even though they took forever to fix it, but what is important is that it’s been fixed. I just hope that August will be just that, our government has a bad history of promising things that they can’t maintain,” Mosia exclaimed. On the question of how much the contract had cost the agency, Van Eyk said the total cost including Value Added Tax (VAT) was R 144,245,942.80.
The sinkhole had formed on the R21 northbound carriageway towards Pretoria and just after the Olifantsfontein interchange. Sanral had advised road users to use alternative routes such as the M18 and M57 which run parallel to the west of the R21 while the reconstruction was still in progress.