SOMETIMES, it’s not about the destination, but the journey and when it comes to these magnificently jaw-dropping revamped roads of the city of Polokwane, one couldn’t agree more when the African Times crew embarked on a stroll in the city’s outskirts.
It’s a sunny Monday late morning and the traffic jam in Polokwane has just decreased and the jaunt is gentle, far from the ones of adrenaline junkies.
So, what are you waiting for?
Hop in that car, roll down those windows and cruise along the city’s most beautiful road networks.
Winding through streets, the heartbeat of the town known by its older generation as “Polokwane gabo ngwanyana wadi roko, Polokwane gabo Maraba ‘a Sekwala”, visitors will find these stunning roads more appealing.
Built at the height of apartheid by the now-defunct Lebowa government, before the rehabilitation of these streets, they have since reached their design lifespan hence in 2017/18 and 2018/19 financial year, R111 million has been budgeted for the asset renewal program in the urban areas so as to try to reduce the exasperating backlog.
The refurbished roads of the city of Polokwane are some of the most extraordinary feats of engineering in the country, far much better than the annoyingly bumpy “highways” of neighbouring Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
And to the envy of modern engineers, substantial parts of the network will survive for decades, linking scores of dwellers with their residential areas and workplaces.
The constructions were built with seismic events in mind and that’s what engineers today are excited to study – how they can benefit from that knowledge. Sustainability was the key to success.
Seemingly, contractors paid attention to local conditions, using local materials and working with the landscape.
Along Blaauberg, street, Riaan van Tonder says, “Enjoy driving in town. Most of the roads are easy and driver-friendly. I wish the municipality could also rehabilitate the remaining ones but I know this cannot be done in a single financial year.”
According to municipal spokesperson, Tshidiso Mothapo, the remainder of the backlog on rehabilitation of streets will be dealt within two financial years of 2018/2019 and 2019/2020 through concession program.
“This concession will mostly focus on the city and the surrounding suburbs but will be extended to Seshego once the city is completed. To date the Municipality has spent approximately R15.5 million for rehabilitating the streets in the city and surrounding suburbs” said Mothapo.
Along the scenic Plein street, drivers get a full experience of a driver-friendly road, north of the magnificent Peter Mokaba stadium, the host arena of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in this neck of the hoods.
The rehabilitation of Plein street between Suid and Hospital streets project started in June this year and is planned to be completed in January next year.
Parallel to Plein, construction is underway, restoring Magazyn Street between Suid and Hospital Streets.
According to the project’s community liaison officer, Rendani Luvhengo, construction commenced on May 11 this year and is planned to be completed on November 16.
Luvhengo has a lot of optimism when he talks about this project.
“This is one of the many municipal projects you feel honoured to be part of… It has 10 employees and eight of them are women, only complemented by two men. This is part of the municipality’s Extended Public Works Programme. Training was conducted and the labourers have already been awarded with certificates. But most significantly, by the time this project concludes, they will be well equipped with skills. They [women workers] already know how to do paving and surely they will use these skills in their private endeavours.”
Breathe in the crisp salty air and witness the allure on this Limpopo provincial capital city at its best as you drive along the rugged south-eastern periphery.
The rehabilitation of Outspan street between Dewet and veldspaat project started in April this year and it was completed on July 7. The road is not just a physical road, it’s a cosmological road, and modern people might consider it a “living road.”
In the neighbourhood of Flora Park, Erasmus street between De Wet and Maroela Street is also under refurbishment. The project started in May 2017 and planned to be completed before the end of October.
Also under renewal is the busy Thabo Mbeki street from Schoeman heading to the Nelson Mandela traffic circle. At this juncture, driving along this road can be a nightmarish experience since the construction started in August this year.
It is envisaged that this project will be completed in December this year.
Elsewhere in the fringes of Ladanna, Blaauberg Street between Flourspan and Bulawayo, construction that started in May this year, has just been completed on September 7.Mothapo said all these projects will impact significantly not only on the aesthetic appearance, the lives of residents, but also on the economic activities of the city.
He said, “The economy needs reliable infrastructure to connect supply chains and efficiently move goods and services across. Infrastructure also connects households across to higher quality opportunities for employment, healthcare and education.”
Mothapo has appealed that: “During this period the municipality requests all motorists, business people and the general public to be patient with all the construction sites. Motorists are also requested to adhere to all road signs within construction sites and are further requested to use alternative roads where possible to avoid delays.
“The municipality is also improving on its planning to ensure that the public is not adversely affected by this construction. The face-lifting of any city comes with temporary inconveniences that result in everlasting benefits for all. Let us continue to build our city together.”