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EC community gets new roads

written by *Thami Sesmani
The Libode Interchange Bridge will benefit the local community. 

The Libode Interchange Bridge along the R61 in the Eastern Cape has improved road safety for all road users in this rural area.

The improvements at the interchange and overpass bridges on the R61 road mean shorter travel times, improved safety for pedestrians and motorists; and fewer accidents on the R61.

Community member Mthuthuzeli Xotyeni (30) said the road used to be a nightmare for residents. “The road was very small. Pedestrians would get hit by cars whilst walking on the yellow line. In a month we would have three to four accidents on this road.”

He said this has changed with the new road. “Now that it has been renovated the situation is much better … and we are happy with the road.”

The village of Libode is about 36 km from Mthatha.

The Department of Transport built an interchange bridge at Libode, one vehicular overpass, one vehicular underpass, one pedestrian bridge, taxi bays and pavements. Eight intersections were formalised and upgraded, new road signs were erected and road markings were improved.

The renovations that cover a distance of 21.5 km from Ngqeleni to Libode cost about R371 million and were finished in just over two years.

The project created work for 37 small, medium and micro-sized enterprises, of which five are owned by women, and 22 youth.  The total value of SMME work was R79.27 million.

The project created job opportunities for 795 people, of whom 381 are youth, 125 are women and one person is living with a disability. Training was also provided to 303 people. 

The Department of Transport partnered with the South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) to improve road infrastructure in the area, which is underdeveloped.

Transport Minister Dipuo Peters said SANRAL delivered completed road infrastructure development and road maintenance projects to the value of R1.4 billion in the Eastern Cape in the 2015/2016 financial year.

“The new pedestrian bridge will provide safety to 1 200 school children while offering peace of mind and solace for their parents, families and teachers,” said Minister Peters at the official opening of the R61.

*Thami Sesmani works for the Department of Transport.