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Road infrastructure and maintenance in Johannesburg was studied by a group of stakeholders from various African countries, following the Roads Africa 2011 conference.
A TOUR of Joburg’s roads blew away visitors from other African countries, leading one to compare it with an American city.


JRA managing directorJRA managing director Dudu Maseko takes visitors through Alex roads“Look at this; it is just like anywhere in California,” exclaimed an excited Kenyan delegate during the tour, which was organised by the Johannesburg Road Agency (JRA) on 11 March.

The tour was held to show Joburg’s road infrastructure to leading industry players and heads of transport and road infrastructure from countries like Zambia, Uganda, Lesotho, Kenya and Nigeria. It followed one of the biggest road and infrastructure conferences, Roads Africa 2011, which was held from 8 to 11 March at the Sandton Convention Centre.

At the conference, critical issues affecting the continent were discussed, such as road development projects, planned road development and maintenance requirements.

Friday’s tour began at Vincent Tshabalala Road in Alexandra, where the JRA is upgrading and widening streets. “One of the biggest challenges was to relocate families to create more space,” explained the agency’s managing director, Dudu Maseko.

It had met resistance from residents who were not keen on relocation, despite the fact that they were given new houses, she said.

From here, the delegation moved to Vasco da Gama Bridge, where the JRA has upgraded the roads and the bridge over the Jukskei River. Another stop was Bulelwa Makomane Street in Ivory Park. There is no road infrastructure on the street because Joburg Water dug a channel on it to control the flow of water.

Jean Pierre Mathe, the JRA operations manager for project implementation, said the agency was waiting for Joburg Water to put in a storm water drain before they built a road. “We are working very hard to address the situation,” he said.

The visitors seemed unimpressed at this, and did not hesitate to offer solutions to the problem. They advised JRA to look for funding rather than incur costs while waiting for Joburg Water to install a storm water drain.


Vasco da Gama bridgeVasco da Gama bridge: one of the City's projects in Alex“You can never develop a city if all arms of the government are not co-operating,” pointed out Kepha Oyamo, the director of Kenya National Highways Authority.

From Bulelwa Makomane, the delegation stopped along September 29 Road in Ivory Park to motivate JRA workers who were busy filling potholes. They hopped off the bus to greet and exchange a few words with the workers.

Maseko said the JRA did not have enough budget to fix the whole road, and therefore was sticking to filling potholes. “If we are able to get enough funding, it will be easier for us to ensure that infrastructure is maintained.”

Maseko expressed disappointment with workers who took shortcuts to complete their work, saying this made it costly.

The tour ended in Soweto on Vilakazi Street, where they visitors were shown the two houses belonging to the Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela.

After the tour, Uganda Road Fund engineer, Michael Odongo, thanked the JRA for taking them around the city. “You have a wonderful infrastructure here,” he said. “Please maintain it and don’t let us down.”

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