Traffic ahead: Businesses, motorists fuming over planned Malibongwe Drive roadworks

12 July 2018 - 11:54 By Penwell Dlamini
Image: 123rf/ Iuliia Mikhalitskaia

Businesses and motorists who will be directly affected by the closure of a section of Malibongwe Drive in Johannesburg are devastated by the plan‚ saying it will result in serious losses.

Judith Biti‚ who manages an Engen filling station on Malibongwe Drive in Kya Sands‚ said she had not known about the closure until TimesLIVE advised her.

“If you had not walked into my filling station‚ I would not have known! I don’t even know how I’m going to lodge a complaint. This will have a devastating impact on us. Employees will have to sit at home for two weeks. This means they will not get paid. I’m talking about 25 people!” said Biti on Thursday.

The Gauteng department of roads and transport this week announced the closure of a stretch of Malibongwe Drive's northbound section and the “accommodation of traffic on the southbound carriage" between the Epsom Avenue and River Road intersections.

The department said motorists must note that the 700m stretch in the northbound section between Epsom Avenue and Boundary Road will be completely closed off to traffic.

Malibongwe Road will be closed between Epsom Avenue and Boundary Road.
Malibongwe Road will be closed between Epsom Avenue and Boundary Road.
Image: Google Maps

The roadworks are scheduled to start on Monday July 16. They will run for 24 hours a day and are expected to take between 10 and 14 days to complete.

The current state of this part of Malibongwe Drive is very poor. It is not properly surfaced and is full of potholes.

The department said it will be conducting "a milling-off exercise of the existing surface and replacing with new asphalt to improve the route’s ability to carry traffic at adequate speeds while also enhancing road safety over the long term.”

"Motorists are advised to use alternative routes and to not attempt to drive on the closed section of the road‚" said the department.

Imagine how much traffic will be here with other lanes closed.

Alternatives routes on the R114‚ Witkoppen Road‚ Northumberland Avenue and Christiaan de Wet Road are also expected to be affected by the roadworks.

Biti said while she appreciates that government is fixing the road‚ she would like the department to consider doing the work only at night. "They did this when they fixed Malibongwe/Witkoppen and it worked. Alternatively‚ they can close one lane at a time."

She explained: "This is the only route to our business‚ so what this will basically do is shut our business for that period."

"We have tanks filled with fuel. That is money sitting underground for two weeks. This is our livelihood. All our turnover will be gone for half a month. The petrol price has gone up and customers have been filling up less.

“Now we have to close for two weeks. This is a big blow for us!" she said.

Other motorists who spoke to TimesLIVE also called for the closure of the road to happen only during night hours‚ due to the heavy congestion on Malibongwe Drive.

"I'm not happy about this. I did not even know that the road would be closed!" said Mike Radebe‚ who travels between Cosmo City and Kya Sands.

“Their timing was really bad. This road has busy traffic during peak hours. Imagine how much traffic will be here with other lanes closed. They should have actually done their work during the night‚ maybe closing one lane during the day‚” said Radebe.

Another motorist‚ who wished not to be named‚ also complained about communication from the department."I didn't know anything about the closure until you told me now! I don't understand why they didn't put up posters or something for us to know‚" he said.

“I run my business along this road. I see between five and 10 clients a day. I have to travel in and out of the office so I have to use the road in both directions. It is really going to affect me negatively‚" he said.

Thandiwe Shabalala‚ who runs a food outlet close to River Road‚ said she is hoping that the closure will not affect her business.

"If the Engen garage [the one run by Biti] next to us is still working‚ I will be fine. I get a number of customers from there‚" she said.