The Easter weekend is usually one of KwaZulu-Natal’s busiest weekends when scores of travellers descend on the province to bask on its beautiful beaches.
The tourism industry has had a very difficult two years, first straining under the initial national lockdown regulations imposed in March 2020 when travel was completely banned, and again in December 2020 when alcohol was banned – a deadly blow to the tourism industry who bargained on the busy December season to survive.
Now, a year and a bit later, KwaZulu-Natal’s tourism has once again been dealt a heavy blow after continuous heavy rains this past week led to deadly floods that damaged homes, businesses, roads and infrastructure in the province.
KwaZulu-Natal was declared a disaster area on Wednesday after the magnitude and severity of the impact of the severe weather events in various municipal areas of the province that resulted in the loss of life and damage to property, infrastructure and the environment caused by heavy rain, flooding, strong winds, landslides etc, was assessed.
Speaking to eNCA on Thursday, the province’s MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Ravi Pillay said there is no need for tourists to cancel their long weekend plans to Kwa-Zulu Natal as most of the province has been spared the flood damage and major roads are clear.
He added that while they have seen some cancellations, the good news is that the N3 is completely open which takes you right through to Durban.
The N2, both south and north bound are open except for some areas where the road is reduced to a single lane.
“Mop-up operations are underway so we urge visitors to check with their destinations if they are ready and organized to receive guests before embarking on their journey,” said Pillay.
The Drakensberg, Midlands and St Lucia areas weren’t affected by the flooding and are ready to welcome tourists.
N3 toll route open
The N3 Toll Concession on Wednesday said high traffic volumes and wet weather conditions are expected on the N3 Toll Route this Easter weekend.
“Heavy rain, thunderstorms, fog and poor visibility may disrupt the flow of traffic along various parts of the N3 Toll Route during peak hours on Thursday and Friday,” it warned.
Operations manager of N3 Toll Concession, Thania Dhoogra urged motorists to plan ahead to avoid additional risks such as late-night driving, tiredness and a lack of concentration.
Dhoogra also warned drivers to allow for slower-moving heavy motor vehicles along the route.
The Mail & Guardian reported on Wednesday that the Marianhill toll plaza was grappling with a 10km long queue of trucks stretching to Hammarsdale as freight movement towards the port of Durban was suspended, because of heavy rains and flooding.
Expected peak traffic forecast
High traffic volumes of 2,500 vehicles per hour are expected on the N3 Toll Route in the direction of KwaZulu-Natal on Thursday, 14 April between 15:00 and 21:00, and on Friday, 15 April from 9:00 to 12:00.
South Coast road closures
According to the South Coast Herald, the following roads have been reported as ones to avoid or take great care of while driving:
- Old Pont Road Port Edward.
- Pioneer Road in Ramsgate on the way to Pistols, two trees in the left hand side of the road.
- Glenmarkie Road in Ramsgate – Road partially washed away.
- Banks Street and Collison street in Margate/Manaba.
- National Road between Margate Saps and Sasol Garage.
- N2 Shelly Beach to Port Shepstone (landslides – cleared).
- R620 Oslo Beach.
- Port Shepstone Marine Drive and R620 – watch out for big potholes between Southport and Sea Park in both directions.
- Sugar Mill Road in Port Shepstone towards Batstone’s Drift low level bridge to lime jetty to the Illovo Sugar Mill is a definite no go area. Extensive assessment by RNM and BAC members. Barricaded with danger tape.
- Batstone’s Drift low level bridge – closed.
- P200 Gamalake to Port Shepstone.
- Umbango Area.
- Knox-Gore Road in St Mike’s.
- R102 Umtentweni near Caltex garage (still mud on the road).
- Oshabeni area.
- N2 northbound closed – N2 southbound open (not sure of alternative routes).
- N2 to Scottsburgh and Durban – Ilfracombe area N2 north bound before Ultra City – Closed
*Note, some these situations may have since been cleared.
North Coast Road closures
According to the North Coast Courier, the following roads were reported as closed on Wednesday afternoon:
- N2 bridge collapsing Umhlanga to Sibaya, northbound lane. Only one lane open.
- M4 at the Tongaat River Bridge, which may potentially collapse.
- R102 Compensation closed at Paul Naidoo’s bend owing to collapse.
- Etete River bridge closed.
- R102 towards Tongaat is closed owing to maintenance teams being on site.
- Shakaskraal bridge on the R102 heading toward Stanger has collapsed.
- M4 between La Mercy and Umdloti closed due to unsafe bridge.
- Flag Farm road to Palm Lakes inaccessible (P445)
- R102 from Ballito to Stanger inaccessible owing to blockage at Umhlali – it is being cleared at the moment (3pm).
- Heavy traffic congestion can be expected at all other alternative roads.
Roads which are clear:
- Ndwedwe to Verulam.
- Verulam to King Shaka International Airport.
- King Shaka International Airport to N2.
- King Shaka International Airport to Tongaat.
- Watson Highway (a portion of the M4).
Roads to avoid, if possible:
- Shakaskraal – stop and go with slow traffic.
- N2 northbound between Salt Rock (Shaka’s Head) and Tinley Manor.
- R102 Stanger to Darnall – mud and debris across road before Prince’s Grant. One lane obstructed.
- R614 Nzuze toward Ballito/Tongaat – verge collapsing. Right line open.