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Provincial Roads department confident Hendrik Potgieter Road will be reopened by the end of the year

The provincial roads department hold a second public meeting to update the community on the progress of the Hendrik Potgieter Road bridge rebuild.

The Gauteng Provincial Department of Roads and Transport (GPDRT) made good on a promise to maintain community engagement.

Greeted by a more forgiving audience than previous meetings in the ward, officials from the provincial roads and transport department gave a debriefing on the Hendrik Potgieter Road rebuild on March 16.

Head of Department Dr Thulani Mdadane. Photo: Jarryd Westerdale.

MEC for Roads and Transport, Kedibone Diale-Thlabela apologised for her absence but several senior executives were on hand to provide a detailed breakdown of the project.

Also read: Reconstruction of Pierre Road bridge set to begin by October with project to take nine months

Head of Department, Dr Thulani Mdadane was assisted by contractors in explaining that work done so far had been preparatory. He said the project is now at an execution stage, with contractors having established what they called a ‘baseline’ based on detailed assessments. The project has been divided into several workstreams that will run concurrently and based on their projections, have set themselves a completion date of November 30, 316 days from the Thursday evening meeting.

Motorists have adjusted their travel times accordingly but large trucks remain a stubborn concern. Officials admitted that the biggest stumbling block to date has been the implementation of the traffic management plan. Director of Stakeholder Management, Mbali Seheri stated that only 19 out of 61 signs had been erected and that this delay in turn delayed the reconfiguring of traffic signals along the detour roads. Seheri reiterated that traffic management was a function of the Department of Community Safety and was not assisting optimally.

Dr Thulani Mdadane. Photo: Jarryd Westerdale.

Officials stressed that they were doing everything possible to shorten the project timelines, describing Hendrik Potgieter Road as an economic corridor linking provinces. Having seemingly listened to suggestions and complaints, contractors floated the idea of working both day and night shifts. Using the rebuild as an opportunity to plan for the future has been a recurring suggestion but, unfortunately, designing the new bridge to incorporate four lanes is ‘not part of the current scope of work’.

Also read: Hendrik Potgieter Road bridge reconstruction project not moving fast enough for ‘exhausted’ community

The logistics of the reconstruction project are firmly in place but they do not take into account curve-balls thrown by human behaviour. Grumbles of discontent were already being voiced by security and labourers claiming they had not been paid. Dr Mdadane vowed to address those concerns after the meeting, stating further that there would be a zero-tolerance approach towards delinquent subcontractors.

Lebelo Maloka and Mbali Seheri. Photo: Jarryd Westerdale.

The appointment of a Community Liaison Officer and sub-contractors for phases further down the reconstruction timeline is a key human resources topic. GPDRT officials confirmed the Community Liaison Officer (CLO) would be appointed from Ward 85 and would be limiting the turnaround times on the appointment of subcontractors to just 72 hours.

“We will have a structured and orderly fashion in appointing subcontractors that are not going to compromise the quality of work,” said Dr Mdadane.

The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between GPDRT and Johannesburg Roads Agency but provincial officials reiterated their desire to have this signed with a City of Johannesburg entities to streamline daily functions. Repairing the damage down to detour roads is often queried and the provincial officials stated that their department would absorb those costs.

While all parties are desperate to return to commuting normality, the general consensus was that communications from the department were satisfactory. GPDRT officials encouraged residents to monitor social media for regular updates as well as use the various platforms to send further questions and suggestions. GPDRT can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube by searching for the full name of the entity.

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