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07 November 2023 Media Release: GRDM Roads team praised for excellent work on major projects

Media Release: GRDM Roads team praised for excellent work on major projects

For immediate release
07 November 2023

Over the last few months, the Garden Route district experienced severe weather conditions which left a few roads in a poor state for use by road users.  Some roads were closed due to the severity of the damage and other roads were repaired and are in use again. These roads are managed and maintained by the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) Roads Services Department, as agent of the Western Cape Department of Infrastructure.

In support of Transport Month that was celebrated across the country in October last month and due to the progress of the repair work by GRDM Roads Services, councillors, management and staff, last week, 30 October 2023, visited two sites to view the progress made. One of the roads is the Saasveld road, where an armco failure on the Madiba Road occurred that collapsed the road to 8 metres deep. The road is now completed and fully repaired. The team further visited the Gwaiing road (DR1618), situated near the George airport to witness the road works of the upgrade project.

Visit to Saasveld Road

During the visit to the Saasveld Road, GRDM Manager for Maintenance, Construction and Mechanical Services, Japie Strydom, explained that the steel pipe that was constructed during the 1950s failed because steel on its own was not successful. GRDM in 2021 then constructed a new pipe with a combination of concrete and steel.  Strydom further explained that the road serves as detour for the national road and is frequently used by students, tourists and cyclists. During construction, the detour was via the N2 and Wilderness to Saasveld, leading to NMU. This is a 20km longer road to travel compared to the Madiba Drive route. The GRDM is now keeping the road safe for the students at Nelson Mandela University. For this reason, “students would not need to use the Wilderness Road anymore, when they need to get into town,” Strydom said. Brand new guardrails were also installed. This project cost was R5.6 million.

Strydom further explained that future projects similar to this project, which is 0.6, 1.2, 2.9 and 3 km in distance from this project, as well as a site in Wilderness, are still in design phase and said: “It is envisaged that those projects will commence in August/September next year”. He concluded by echoing the words of the Municipal Manager, Monde Stratu who said: “As a collective, we are stronger”.  In addition he said: “We don’t do this just for us and to make it safer, but we are doing this for the future”.

GRDM Portfolio Chairperson for Roads, Ald. Petru Terblanche, praised the Roads team and said: “Every one of you are winners, leaders, the first on the road as well as the last one on the road”. With these words he commended the team for their dedication in realising the objectives of their road construction projects. Terblanche furthermore summed up a few challenges experienced by GRDM, such as a lack of gravel. Consequently, after discussions with the MEC of Infrastructure in the Western Cape, he said that the total of borrow pits increased from three to 13 borrow pits. Terblanche also complimented the team for managing and handling the yellow fleet well. When he referred to the neatness and the overall condition of the vehicles, he highlighted: “I feel proud of the team when I see our machines and vehicles on the road and because of your excellence I’m am very proud to be part of GRDM’s Roads Services Department”.

Visit to Gwaiing Road Project

On arrival at the Gwaiing Road, Strydom and the GRDM Senior Roads Engineering Technician, Chesney Roelf, explained the type of upgrade work that has been done so far.  Strydom said: “Proper drainage has been put in, as well as proper layer works and a permanent bitumen road surface. These will change the traffic flow on the road”, he explained. In total 4km of the road will be upgraded with the cost of R16.5 million per kilometer.

The project also created learning and skills development opportunities for final cutters. In explaining his statement, he said: “Across the world there are only a few final cutters that can work with a grader that is capable of cutting a road surface to a final level, to proceed with construction”. Additionally, Strydom also mentioned that 44 Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) workers were appointed to assist on the project of which 24 already underwent accredited NQF training funded by the Trisano program. One (1) EPWP has now been permanently appointed by the GRDM Roads Department. This is evident that apart from creating a new road, Strydom said “we are also creating opportunities for people to develop themselves”.

Monde Stratu, during the visit, praised the team for their excellent work ethic and dedication. Stratu used the South African rugby team who was crowned at the 2023 World Cup champions as an example when he said that results can only be achieved by team members that work together as one.

In closing, Cllr Jobieth Hoogbaard, GRDM’s Portfolio Chairperson for Property Management and Development, shared his words of appreciation to the Roads Department and their Executive Manager John Daniels, Ald. Terblanche and the Municipal Manager for continuously delivering outstanding work and for allowing them as councillors to witness roads projects that bring significant improvement to the lives of those affected by the road damages.

The project with an overall project cost of R69 million has a duration of 18 months and the road is envisaged to be opened by mid-year to the end of next year.

Feature Photo: GRDM Councillors, Management and staff during the site visits to Saaveld and Gwaiing roads.