SANRAL looks at new road to solve Ermelo problems

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Ermelo – The construction of a new by-pass road to alleviate traffic congestion on three national roads passing through the mining town of Ermelo could begin by 2017, the SA National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) said on Wednesday.

The agency’s senior managers met with business and community leaders to discuss proposals to address the impact of the growing traffic in Ermelo as a result of the three national roads that pass through the town which often include coal haulers, long distance freight and abnormal vehicles.

Ermelo is an agricultural, industrial and commercial centre and is conveniently situated en route to Mozambique and Swaziland.

But authorities say with the current traffic growth and resultant challenges such as congestion and road safety concerns, a need existed for an alternative route through the town.

“Once the proposals have been presented to all stakeholders and considered, follow up engagements will be held with community representatives and other concerned parties,” Northern Regional Manager Ismael Essa said.

Three proposed new route options were explored but these will only be considered once the necessary environmental impact assessment has been concluded.

SANRAL said only after these studies have been concluded and environmental authorisation had been granted would land acquisition, with detailed design and construction of the road be considered.

While the plans were widely welcomed by those who attended the meeting, some raised concerns about the proposed by-pass, suggesting instead a re-route approach for heavy duty vehicles.

Others wanted a new road to be built that would accommodate coal haulers and other heavy vehicles. Some business owners were concerned that a by-pass route may affect business growth in town - something SANRAL said was “debatable”.

“Well the issue is debatable…we are here in Ermelo to introduce a project that we want to do around the town. There are three national roads that pass through the town and that is not sustainable. We've got an idea how we can solve this problem,” said SANRAL Head of Communications Vusi Mona.

He said should the proposal to construct a by-pass road succeed, all heavy vehicles will be prohibited from passing through town.

“We take into account that the by-pass road could actually kill local businesses. Lets get scientific about it. We’ve seen something similar being done on the N4 through Nelspruit…has business been killed there? I doubt,” Mona said.

SANRAL would also look at solutions around the country where similar problems had been experienced. The proposed project commencement date is December 2017 or January 2018. –