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The eThekwini Municipality recently received the highly commended award in the category of Technical Excellence at the South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE) regional awards held in June. This award was for their work on the M25/ Bhejane Road Underpass Interchange in KwaMashu, which forms part of the C9 route of GO!Durban, the City’s new integrated rapid public transport network currently under construction.

The internal design team, seconded from the City’s Engineering Unit Roads Provision Department, on the eThekwini Transport Authority managed GO!Durban project, received the award for pushing technical engineering limits to deliver high quality infrastructure that is good value for money.
This keenly awaited M25 diamond interchange into Bridge City, an integral part of GO!Durban, opened as a critical link into the Inanda, Ntuzuma and KwaMashu (INK) neighbourhoods in May this year, heralding the economic growth and development this new hub has the potential to create.

This interchange opens up the Bridge City precinct in KwaMashu on the south of the M25 via the Bhejane Road underpass, to the Phoenix Industrial area on the north side. The interchange with the underpass provides vital infrastructure for next route to be constructed of the GO!Durban network, called C9, which runs from there to Umhlanga Ridge via Cornubia. Construction of a bridge over the N2 linking Cornubia and Umhlanga Ridge to service this route is well underway.

According to eThekwini Municipality Mayor Cllr Zandile Gumede, accessibility into INK, as well as neighbouring Phoenix, is key to economic growth and development, itself underpinned by the integrated rapid public transport network (IRPTN) GO!Durban, the first route which is expected to be operational in 2018. This multi-billion-rand eThekwini Municipality initiative will deliver more than 100 000 people daily into the Bridge City bus terminus and train station when fully operational. Thami Manyathi, Head of the eThekwini Transport Authority says the contract for the integrated rapid public transport network C3 route between Bridge City and the Malandela intersection was awarded to Inanda JV, a joint venture initiative with WBHO as the main member and partners Thekwane Holdings, Lakeshore Trading, Qanza and Ethos.‘We are thrilled with this accolade awarded to the design team on this interchange,’ said Manyathi. “As one can imagine a lot of creativity, technical expertise and thinking goes into finding engineering solutions, and it is fantastic that their hard work has been acknowledged and rewarded.”

Speaking of the design, Deputy Head of Roads Provision Department, Dave Thomas said “The underpass bridge deck needed to be particularly thin and have curved supports with extremely high skewness. This was done using a design that is unusual in South Africa, because the bridge doesn’t have bearings or expansion joints. The design saves additional money by removing the need for expensive maintenance in the future.”
The on and off ramps introduce direct access to the M25 and N2 to promote better traffic distribution. The result promotes a better distribution of traffic by spreading the access to Bridge City, Ntuzuma and Phoenix between the new interchange and the existing Ntuzuma interchange. There is also consideration for pedestrian traffic as people crossing the M25 can now do so via the underpass.

Bridge City and the resulting infrastructure evolved from a forward-thinking public private partnership between the eThekwini Municipality and Tongaat Hulett Developments, the original owners of the 53 hectares on which the new mega city and economic hub is being forged. In tackling inherent underdevelopment in the neighbourhood, the vision plans to inject R10 billion into private and public investments and build a mixed-used city centre. The Municipality’s strict empowerment guidelines ensured that in the construction of the interchange and its connecting roads, 340 local labourers were employed and 26 percent of the contract value was given to 44 emerging subcontractors. Manyathi concluded by saying that the integrated rapid public transport network crisscrossing the City would open in phases over the next few years.




Taxi Incentives Programme

To assist minibus taxi operators, associations and the regional taxi leadership improve their business, operations and their service to commuters, eThekwini Municipality will roll-out a Public Transport Service Improvement Programme in October, National Transport month.

This programme, which was approved at the Human Settlements and Infrastructure Committee meeting and at Full Council, aims to support the taxi industry.

Chairperson of the Human Settlements and Infrastructure Committee, Councillor Mondli Mthembu commended the programme because it will strengthen relations between the public transport industry and the Municipality.

“The introduction of this customer service improvement programme, ahead of the implementation of its new integrated public transport network – GO!Durban, is in response to the call by citizens for better, safer, more efficient and reliable public transport. Through this initiative, we are also formalising and promoting road safety,” he said.

The programme is designed to use a set of rewards to incentivise improved performance by participants including commuters to ensure better customer care and an increase in standard of the provision of public transport for all.

EThekwini Transport Authority Deputy Head for Public Transport, Mlungisi Wosiyana said the plan is to provide support to operators, associations and regional offices with the aim to improve the running of their businesses and improving their business environment.

“For the City to function optimally economically, we need improved reliability and efficiency of our public transport service. Going hand in hand with this is driver development and empowerment as we work together with the operators and associations to ensure that we are all aiming towards one common goal,” he explained.

When the project is being piloted, qualifying operators will continue on their allocated routes and commuters will be given opportunities to rate their trip experience. Ratings done by the commuter will pertain to the overloading of vehicles, speeding or reckless driving, loud music, cleanliness of vehicles and the attitude of the drivers and their assistants. The vehicles will be required to have appropriate up-to-date licensing and roadworthiness certifications.

Wosiyana said the programme will provide rewards to drivers, owners, regions and associations which will be based on commuter ratings.

“We have designed a programme that is able to track vehicles, obtain feedback from the various structures like rank marshalls and associations and commuter ratings. But it is also important that vehicle owners ensure compliance with relevant transport by-laws and regulations,” he added.

The incentives programme, which has been approved by Council, incorporates many suggestions and proposals, which were obtained through consultation with minibus taxi leadership. This collaboration bodes well for the future.

As part of the preparation for the formal launch of the programme in October, detailed briefing sessions will be conducted with taxi associations, operators and drivers in the City, so that everyone is clear about the qualification criteria, incentives applicable to them, and the implementation process. The first phase, which will be launched in October, will be a pilot, with the full roll-out in the last quarter of the 2017/18 financial year.