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By Kyle Zeeman

Deputy Digital Editor

Don’t stop and take photos: Iconic Clarence Drive could close again due to unruly drivers

Repairing the route after damage from devastating floods earlier this year is set to cost about R80 million.

The Western Cape Department of Infrastructure has warned that the iconic Clarence Drive could be closed again because of near head-on collisions and unlawful driving in the area.

The route was hit hard by landslips and rockslides during the devastating Heritage Day long weekend floods in September. It is estimated to cost about R80 million to repair. It was reopened earlier this month with six stop-and-go sections and a single lane for traffic.

The department said road users are now ignoring the stop-and-go sections and “simply stop in the closed sections [of the road] to take walks, take pictures, go to the water’s edge, and the like”.

“Once done, they simply rejoin traffic irrespective of which direction traffic is coming from. This has led to several near head-on collisions”.

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It said closed sections of the road were not parking spots and were not safe to use.

Additional flagmen have been sent to the area but infrastructure MEC Tertuis Simmers warned they may introduce an escort system or close the road entirely.

“I am extremely concerned about this reckless trend. Should it persist, we have two other options left. One is to have escort vehicles in place, that will escort a group of vehicles through the closed sections to ensure all vehicles move through the various points before letting traffic through from the opposite direction. Not only will this have a significant cost implication but could result in an additional 45-60 minutes in travel time along this route.”

“The other option is a full closure again of Clarence Drive.”

He said a full closure would have “a severely negative impact on the area from a traffic flow and economic perspective”.

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“While this will remain our last resort, our priority must be the safety of all road users. I am calling on road users to please take the risk seriously and act responsibly.

“I have contacted the Overstrand Municipality and there will be an increased presence of traffic and law enforcement officers along the route to root out dangerous road user behaviour,” said Simmers.

This cost includes repairs to the Palmiet Bridge, which also sustained damage. The project is forecast to be completed by the end of the third quarter of 2024.

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