Motorists will be able to use the R61 national road in the Tsomo Joint Junction between Cofimvaba and Ngcobo in the Eastern Cape by the end of February, says Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula.
He was speaking at an oversight visit that he conducted on the road on Friday.
Minister Mbalula was accompanied by Eastern Cape MEC for Transport, Safety and Liaison, Weziwe Tikana-Gxotiwe, whose department has since transferred the responsibility to maintain the road to the South African National Roads Agency SOC Limited (SANRAL).
The R61 national road was damaged as a result of persistent rains, where a bridge culvert on the road collapsed, causing it to sag. This has left many road users inconvenienced.
“We have made a commitment as government, working together with our social partners in the province, that work currently being done to repair this road will be completed by 28 February. We are cognisant of the reality that this road is a major national economic artery in the province, connecting the movement of goods and people between the Eastern Cape and neighbouring provinces.
“SANRAL, which is the agency responsible for this national road, has moved with speed to start the repair work. The culvert is currently being replaced and work is on schedule to ensure that the 28 February deadline will be met,” said Mbalula.
SANRAL’s Board Chairperson, Themba Mhambi, said SANRAL’s rapid response team immediately came to the site when the accident happened in December last year.
“At SANRAL we understand the disruptive impact that this road closure has caused, and our project team is moving as fast as possible to repair the culvert safely so that motorists are again able to use this important artery.
“We also want to commend the local community for working with us in ensuring that we work speedily to repair the damaged caused here,” said Mhambi. The culvert is being replaced by the existing SANRAL routine road maintenance contractor, the black-owned Rainbow Civils, who are normally responsible for the day-to-day maintenance of the R61. The budget for the repairs is estimated at R2.3 million. The main contractor is making use of local labour sourced from nearby villages.