THE reopening of uMhlali River Bridge is significant for the people of KwaZulu-Natal “as it once again allows for the free movement of traffic and travellers using the N2, particularly in and out of the main economic centres of Ballito, Umhlanga and Durban,” said Sanral CEO, Reginald Demana.
The uMhlali River Bridge was among those worst affected by the floods in April 2022. The northbound road was closed and traffic was diverted as the bridge shifted. The re-opening of the bridge means that traffic can once again operate to its optimum level on this road.
The extent of the damage to the bridge was so huge that the far-left lane on the N2 northbound carriageway collapsed and moved down the embankment, which resulted in a serious safety issue, hence the closure of that section. As a short-term measure, traffic was diverted to the provincial network via the R197 and R102.
According to the Minister of Transport, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga, the reopening of the uMhlali River Bridge is a significant event in the resuscitation of KwaZulu-Natal’s economic development following the devastating floods.
“The N2 national road is an important road for the economy of KwaZulu-Natal and South Africa, especially between the Lovu River and uMdloti. This highway is a major mobility route and services the northern and southern parts of South Africa, which includes Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, and the Eastern and Western Cape. It moves freight that is intended to be imported or exported through the Port of Durban”, said Chikunga.
“Portions of the N2 also form part of the SADC North-South Freight Corridor. The N2 corridor continues north linking the port of Richards Bay to the N11 at Ermelo which then links to the N1 as part of the North-South Corridor linking Beit Bridge”, added the Minister.
“That we are able to reopen this bridge in less than 18 months since the floods is a testament to the hard work put in by Sanral, working with their provincial counterparts and affected municipalities. I would like to thank Sanral and its contractors, the provincial and local roads authorities. Thank you to the community and SMMEs who played their part, and more importantly, we would like to thank the motorist for their patience and understanding”, said Chikunga.
“The significant damage to the bridge caused by the floods in April 2022, created immense disruptions to the lives of the local communities and therefore today’s event ushers in a new period of normality. Sanral is committed to improving the lives of South Africans and the reopening of the N2 means that this important economic gateway resumes business as usual”, added Sanral’s Demana.
Demana said that 150 more jobs will be created as the project comes to an end, for cleaning the river debris upstream and downstream.
Sanral board member Noluphumuzo Noxaka said the reopening is an important event as the bridge is a vital “connector between the people of the south and north of the province. People now have free mobility and it will reduce the time that it took to move between these areas.”