After a year long sufffering, the community and the business people welcomed the opening of one of Soweto’s biggest artillery roads last month. They were all relieved that the Klipspruit Valley Road was finally reopened. It even spots a new 3km of stormwater infrastructure, bigger pipes that can direct water underground when it rains. Photo by Nhlanhla Khomola-Daily Sun

By Philiswa Mbanjwa

Soweto’s Klipspruit Valley Road has finally reopened after almost a year of closure due to stormwater drain rehabilitation project.

The road opening has been met with immense relief from proximate residents and businesses who suffered great inconvenience and loss of income respectively.

This is one of the oldest and main arterial roads, going in and out of Soweto. The township’s public transport relies on it as one of the main routes for Rea Vaya buses and taxis.

It was rendered unsafe for use due to a massive sinkhole and had to be closed for rehabilitation.

The Joburg Roads Agency (JRA) identified it’s structural instability and the need for the reconstruction of the stormwater culvert system in 2022. It was Initially set for closure for construction from August to November last year but the project encountered challenges.

The JRA discovered that the bridge over the stormwater infrastructure was constructed from corroded corrugated iron and had collapsed during heavy floods.

The recently appointed City of Joburg’s Transport MMC, Kenny Kunene has been vocal about addressing the city’s road infrastructure issues. On June 23 he officially opened the Klipspruit Valley Road in a ribbon-cutting fanfare.

He highlighted the importance of the project, saying, “there was a collapse of this road due to flooding. When I came to the City of Joburg in February, I said to the team, ‘let us speed up the process because this road is inconveniencing the citizens of Soweto since they can’t use it.

“I am happy to announce that the road is officially opened. We now have an all-weather river crossing, which will ensure easy access and mobility for the community, with minimised flooding,” Kunene boasted.

As part of reopening ceremony, Kunene also visited other ongoing JRA infrastructure projects around Soweto. Among them were the Protea Glen emergency stormwater improvements program, which aims to enhance the area’s resilience to floods, and the newly completed Phiri stormwater upgrade project.

According to JRA, the reconstruction of the Klipspruit Valley Road cost R33 million. They said they did not just focus on restoring the road but also on enhanced stormwater drainage capacity.

Acting CEO, Zweli Nyathi, said the initiative replaced five smaller drainage pipes (1.8m ARMCO culverts) with eight larger ones (2.1m x 2m) and they also ensured longevity by putting anti erosion protection.

“This project is extremely significant. It has ensured a very important upgrade of stormwater system, which will greatly alleviate localised flooding along the section of Klipspruit Valley Road between Sofasonke Street/Kumalo Main Road and Moroka Nancefield Road, Orlando. Furthermore, the road’s layer works were rebuilt and resurfaced,” he said.

The reopening of Klipspruit Valley Road is a welcome development for businesses and commuters. Local businesses, such as Avis, a car-hiring company situated above the road, were severely impacted during the extended closure.

Felicity Moloi, an employee at Avis, expressed her relief, saying, “It was awfully quiet, and business was slow. It was really bad,” she said expressing safety as the area was always empty.

However, now that the road is operational again, Moloi said they’re hopeful for a return to normalcy.

“We’re slowly but surely getting back to normal. Some people are still not aware that the road is operating. But let’s give it a chance, we will pick up as time goes by,” Moloi added.

Zimasa Sosibo one of the commuters, the road closure meant adding more minutes to their daily routines as they were forced to take longer alternative routes.

Sosibo shared her experience, saying, “it’s great to see it opened and upgraded, it is a long time coming. It was frustrating because I had to take a longer, alternative route.”

The road reconstruction did not only bring convenience but also uplifted the local community by creating employment opportunities. A total of 20 locals were hired by a contractor under JRA to work on the project.

One such individual is Mbulelo Mncube, a resident of Dube, who expressed his gratitude for the opportunity. He stated, “before getting this chance, I was selling sweets at the station. This made a huge difference in my life; I got to provide for my two children.”

Mncube highlighted the valuable experience and training he gained during the project, including a two-week training program that resulted in certificates.

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