People who live in the Gauteng area are aware that the growth in the economy, subsequent improvement in living conditions and access to private vehicles, has caused a situation where the road system in the area around Johannesburg, Pretoria and Ekurhuleni is taking strain, particularly around peak hours.

Although South Africa is widely recognized as having the second best road system in the world, the traffic and congestion caused by the increase in vehicles in this particular region leads to a decline in the quality of life and wastage of valuable resources. The N1 between Pretoria and Johannesburg carries more than 180,000 vehicles daily. The congestion on the main routes has substantial adverse effects on the amount of time that people can spend with their families, their productivity in the workplace, levels of frustration and unhappiness of drivers, and also has an effect on the environment through excessive emissions.

The South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) is responsible for the development, maintenance and operation of 16 150 kms of roads which are considered to be of national importance, of which 2400 kms are tolled.

SANRAL has developed a project, together with its partners, the metro authorities in Tshwane, Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and the Province of Gauteng, to upgrade and/or construct approximately 500 kms of road around the three metros which will provide a safe and reliable strategic network and optimize the movement of freight and road based public transport. This will be done through the creation of an interconnected network of inner and outer ring-roads, and will also provide a direct link to the historically neglected areas of the South Western townships of Johannesburg.

The plans include inter-modal transport hubs to surface and rail based public transport facilities. The proposed system will also promote concepts such as Travel Demand Management through the provision of dedicated, high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes and associated infrastructure.

The project is planned to be implemented in phases, starting with the environmental impact assessment, expanding the carrying capacity of the roads, and other improvements including the further roll-out of the intelligent transport system currently operating on Ben Schoeman. The environmental impact assessment, which includes a public participation process, has begun on various sections of the road network including sections of the N14 and R21. The social and economic impact assessments are also under way.

The project will be financed through the “user pays” principle, which is an equitable way of paying for a service that is used. As an extension to the ITS, new technologies will be implemented which will allow for the free flow of traffic. The system will use a system of electronic toll collection that will allow the motorist to travel unhindered.

Due to the number of financial demands on Central Government for housing, education, health, social grants and other obligations in a developing economy, central government relies on SANRAL to find funding for infrastructure development, and a tolling system will enable the identification of investors to raise the money, without resorting to the national fiscus for the large sums required for such a sophisticated system.

A map is attached which gives details of the various aspects of the GFIP – in respect to improvements and upgrades, as well as new expansion.

For further information please contact Wendy Watson 083 283 6108 or Priya Pillay 083 283 6152.

AUTHOR: Issued by The South African National Roads Agency Ltd (SANRAL)
DATED: 4th May 2007