'Incorrigible' vandals damage pedestrian safety project on Garden Route
The South African National Roads Agency SOC Ltd (Sanral) has issued an urgent appeal to residents of George on the Garden Route to help stop the vandalism of road infrastructure along the N2‚ where safe pathways are being constructed. "This has a dramatic impact on the completion of the R43 million budget which is allocated by Treasury for road infrastructure‚" Sanral said on Thursday. The purpose-built walkways‚ which stretch over a distance of about 8km along the N2 between the York Street Interchange and the Garden Route Mall‚ is designed to provide safe access for residents of nearby residential areas - Thembalethu‚ Pacaltsdorp‚ Lawaaikamp and Ballotsview along the N2 corridor - and to provide safe movement for pedestrians during the day and evening‚ "which has experienced the incorrigible behaviour of vandalism by its own community". Sanral regional manager Kobus van der Walt commented‚ "It is a well-known fact that approximately 40% of all deaths on South African roads are pedestrians. They are the most vulnerable group of all road users and road safety is an important priority for Sanral"."The deliberate and willful destruction of the network jeopardizes not only the safety of pedestrians from the various communities which it is designed to assist‚ but also the livelihood of a number of workers on the project."To ensure that pedestrians do not cross the highway at will‚ part of the two metre high welded mesh fence erected along the N2 separating the pathways from the freeway has also been damaged and will need to be replaced. This affects seven subcontractors who have been appointed to carry out different aspects of the work and who are only paid once the work has been completed.Van der Walt says the targeted spend on SMMEs working on the project amounts to R24‚3m and the targeted spend on labour is R12‚2m with key elements of the project using locally sourced labour and at any one time about 210 workers are busy laying bricks‚ building walkways and erecting fences. Apart from the destruction of fences‚ which also allows stray animals to gain access to the freeway‚ causing fatal accidents‚ vandals have also targeted the electrics housed in concrete poles on which 177 energy efficient LED lights will be mounted along the pathways to enable pedestrians to move safely at night to their homes. A key feature of the project is a new pedestrian bridge which has been constructed alongside the N2 providing access for pedestrians and cyclists to move safely across the railway line at Meul River from their homes to their places of work. This has also been damaged with fire‚ burning the rubber bridge bearings."I’m appealing to leaders of the local community to help put a stop to the vandalism of infrastructure which has been designed to better the lives of those living in the George area‚" Van der Walt said.