Road construction, accidents, reckless driving, and insufficient police presence have been identified as the main factors contributing to severe traffic gridlocks on the N3.
The traffic congestion on the N3 stretch between Pietermaritzburg to Durban, which is arguably the busiest road in KwaZulu-Natal, has left many residents frustrated.
The Witness has reported on several tragic accidents and incidents of standstill traffic on the N3 that has left motorists stranded for over three hours and more.
Joey Govender, owner of Joey’s Towing, said the main issue on the N3 is that there is not enough police visibility on the N3.
What we’re seeing is that at night once the majority of traffic police have knocked off, there are more incidents on the freeway. If we can get more road traffic police manning the road at night, we would have won half the battle.
He said more visible policing will help motorists to slow down and that would help reduce accidents on the N3.
“We also need to see more road blocks where traffic cops check roadworthiness of vehicles and fine truck drivers so that they know they need to do better.”
He said another issue is the road construction zones because people don’t adhere to the rules.
“Those are tight spaces and people need to follow the speed limits displayed at construction sites.”
He said problematic areas he has identified include the construction site from Market Road in Pietermaritzburg to Camperdown, Cato Ridge to Market Road, down Town Hill and the Nottingham Road area.
We’re seeing a lot of incidents there [Market Road to Camperdown] mainly because people are not adhering to the road construction rules. People need to just slow down.
He said the traffic jams resulting from road construction had a ripple effect of speeding truck drivers.
He said truck drivers are speeding to meet their delivery times. If they miss delivery times, they lose money, he said.
“Whoever designed these construction areas should have thought how this would affect traffic. The N3 is the gateway into Africa. There is a large volume of trucks using this road so better planning is needed there,” he said.
Nightmare driving between PMB and Durban
Eshveer Ramprasad, a Pietermaritzburg resident who drives to Umhlanga and back for work three times a week, said driving on the N3 can be daunting.
Ramprasad said he leaves Pietermaritzburg around 6.30 am and a trip that should be taking him about an hour and 15 minutes usually takes him about two hours.
It’s either I get caught up along the N3 construction, or the construction on the N2 in Durban, or both. Construction brings traffic to a complete standstill. We do have good days where traffic is just flowing and then we have days where traffic is at a standstill for at least an hour.
On a daily basis, Ramprasad said there is bound to be a truck that’s broken down, a truck that has lost its load or a vehicle that has collided with construction barriers in the Ashburton area.
He said he finishes work at 4.30 pm but only leaves for Pietermaritzburg at 6 pm to avoid traffic.
“It’s generally not a stressful drive, but it can be daunting at the construction stretch where the barriers are narrow and other vehicles are closer. That’s the stressful part, especially at night,” he said.
Traffic officers are out and about on the N3
Speaking to The Witness, spokesperson for the Road Traffic Inspectorate (RTI) Zinhle Mngomezulu-Mali said the most problematic area on the N3 stretch recently has been between Cedara and Cato Ridge, as well as the Balgowan area.
We are trying our level best to ensure the safety of motorists but the main issue is the behaviour of the drivers. They’re becoming very negligent, inconsiderate and are killing other people unnecessarily. We normally sing the same tune that says, ‘road safety is a shared responsibility’. However, if it was truly a shared responsibility, we wouldn’t have so many problems on roadways.
Mngomezulu-Mali said this was a national issue, and not just a KZN problem.
“Drivers just don’t care anymore. They just fly on the roads no matter how much we tell them that speed kills.”
Responding to concerns about traffic police visibility along the N3, Mngomezulu-Mali said traffic officers are out and about on the freeway.
She said their 365 road safety programme, which ensures that roads are safe and that there are traffic officers on duty patrolling and running operations, is in full swing.
“The sad part is that we’re working alone, whereas we’re supposed to be working with motorists,” she said.