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News - Date: 13 July 2017
Written by: Isabel Venter / Viewed: 10213
After years of construction work, causing motorists traveling between Louis Trichardt and Polokwane major traffic headaches, the N1 at Matoks finally “opened” again this week.
“On 10 July, the N1 road that cuts through the middle of the village of Botlokwa [Matoks] in Limpopo was opened to traffic and handed to the community,” stated the South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) in a press release.
Construction work on the N1 at Matoks kicked off in 2014. This entailed the building of two pedestrian bridges and a main vehicle bridge over the N1, as well as a 1,9km service road. A section of the N1, a distance of 1,5km to be exact, was also upgraded after the main construction of the bridges. This way, the community would not be inconvenienced while crossing from one side of the village to the other, but their safety would be secured because the highway would be inaccessible
The project formed part of SANRAL’s strategy to safeguard the local community of Botlokwa. “The town is divided by the busy highway. As a result, some people live on one side but do their shopping or attend school on the other. In recent years, the community has seen more and more road fatalities. Paying a simple visit to a friend’s house was a life-threatening exercise,” said SANRAL.
The project was supposed to be completed on 3 February this year. In March this year, however, SANRAL indicated that the new completion date for the project was 30 April. This was due to an increased amount of earthworks, additional erosion protection, the lining of open canals and disruption by the Botlokwa community. The community also wanted a level crossing at the busiest intersection, so that the bridge would be at ground level. Subsequently, the N1 was dropped by seven metres, the vehicle bridge was built with two three-metre-wide walkways on either side of the road lanes and the two additional pedestrian bridges at either end of the village were constructed above street level. “In total, we lowered 1.4km of the highway, with an average of 180 people working on the project at any one time,” said Mr Tshidi Lethale, project manager, adding that they had only used local subcontractors and labour where feasible.
For the duration of the construction, traffic was rerouted along the “old N1” that was used prior to the nineties. The success of the project, said SANRAL, was they had no further reports of road fatalities in Botlokwa. SANRAL did indicate that they would consider launching several safety-awareness campaigns to enlighten the local community on how to use the new pedestrian facilities properly.
The community has expressed its thanks to SANRAL and people who use the new bridges report feeling safer and happier in their home town. “Years ago, this road was killing our people,” said Mr Donald Solly Mohale, the community liaison officer for the project. “Once, there were five deaths and six accidents in a week. We asked SANRAL to move the road and they offered us the bridges, which we accepted with both hands. Since SANRAL came on site, we have never had a fatal accident. As the community, we are happy to have the bridges and to have the agency by our side. We are happy now that we are safe,” added Mohale.
Monday, 10 July, saw the opening of the section of the N1 that cuts from the village of Botlokwa (Matoks). This brought an end to a construction process that started in 2014, causing many a motorist traffic headaches as a result of detours and traffic holdups.
Isabel joined the Zoutpansberger and Limpopo Mirror in 2009 as a reporter. She holds a BA Degree in Communication Sciences from the University of South Africa. Her beat is mainly crime and court reporting.