Dirt and gravel roads also need to be maintained and regravelled as not all roads can be upgraded to tar due to the expensive cost of upgrading roads, or to ensure that when the time comes for an upgrade to tarred surface that this is done in a cost effective manner.
The economic impact in terms of mining, industrial, agricultural and tourism also needs to be greater in order to justify the cost of upgrading from gravel to tar. According to Kishan Tulsi, RAL’s General Manager for Planning and Design, gravel roads provide a means of transporting agricultural products in and out of farms.
And many of the gravel roads in Limpopo also serve residential needs as well. This, says Mr Tulsi, is done by creating smart infrastructure in rural areas to drive social and economic development. “Some of these roads will remain gravel due to the low traffic and lack of funds to convert these roads to tar (paved).
Over the years, with the increase in size and weight of vehicles travelling on gravel roads, it requires of us to think differently on how to maintain them to withstand the increase in traffic volumes as well as climate change effects,” says Mr Tulsi. as well as climate change effects,” says Mr Tulsi. A new smarter approach, says Mr Tulsi, is needed through research and development to reduce the cost of construction of gravel layers to withstand heavier traffic,
“ONCE TRAFFIC VOLUMES INCREASE … THEN IT IS SUITABLE FOR UPGRADING.”
but extended the time the avocados are transported to the packhouse and causes damage to the products. “These critical areas were identified and it was decided to use gravel to build up the roadbed to ensure avocados are transported within time and without excessive damage to the packhouse,” says Niël Scholtz, Technical Manager at ZZ2.
Eight kilometres of road was regravelled and 20km was graded. “Parts of the road that were still in a fairly good condition were not regravelled but only maintained by grading to ensure proper drainage and to remove the corrugations,” says Mr Scholtz. “Part of this project was to open up the culverts, storm water channels and waterways, bush clearing and grass cutting, and installation of new safety signs along the stretch of the road.”
In terms of the MoA between the two organisations, ZZ2 bears all the costs (100%) if the road usage of a specific road is more than 95%. The mining and farming sectors use heavy-duty vehicles that shorten the lifespan of any road surface as part of their logistics road map.
Although their usage of the Houtbosdorp Road is less than 95%, ZZ2 is still absorbing all the costs for this road of more than half a million rands. The Houtbosdorp Road is maintained throughout the year by ZZ2 to provide a good riding surface for all road users.
“The ZZ2 Road Construction Team received on-the-job training to specifically reach targets like doing the maintenance within timen and cost constraints. Local labourers are empowered with entry level Routine Road Maintenance (RRM) functions such as grass cutting, clearing storm-water culverts, and flagman to direct traffic.”
“ZZ2 IS LOOKING FORWARD TO BUILD ON THIS RELATIONSHIP AND EXTEND IT TO OTHER ROADS IN THE PROVINCE..”
RRM jobs are the best way for local communities and cooperatives to get involved in road maintenance, a gateway to participating in the economy through RAL. Expounding on the benefits of regravelled roads to ZZ2 farming operations, Mr Scholtz said, “Proper and on time maintenance of the roads ensure that agricultural produce, such as avocados and tomatoes,
can be transported in such a way that it reaches the market without being damaged.” “If the road is not maintained, the produce gets damaged to such an extent that it does not make economical sense to transport the avocados and tomatoes on the road,” says Mr Scholtz.
It is hoped the all year round maintenance of road D617 will galvanise job creation and retention on the farms. ZZ2 operations in the province currently employs just over 9 500 people, majority of which work out of the Mooketsi area.
D854 (CULVERTS REPAIR)
Also recently, ZZ2 was involved in the rehabilitation of damaged stormwater culverts on road D854 between Waterpoort and Alldays in the Vhembe District. In terms of the strategic partnership agreement, RAL contributed 90% to the road D854 project budget of just over R1.6 million with ZZ2 carrying the balance of 10% as they are not the primary road user.
Road D854, an alternative route between Alldays and Waterpoort, opposed to the national route via roads R521 and R523, is a rural access road serving the agricultural community who farm game, cattle and tomatoes. There is no human settlement along the entire length of the road and daily traffic counts are less than 500, with heavy vehicle counts estimated to be less than 10.
That heavy vehicle traffic is limited to farming activities in the direct vicinity of road D2931; hence traffic growth rate is thus insignificant.
Tommie van Zyl, CEO of the ZZ2 Group, says logistics and functional road networks are key determinants for economic development and growth. This, he says, necessitates the maintenance of rural road infrastructure in spite of budget constraints from RAL.
“The RAL and ZZ2 partnership is an example of how we can build a future in South Africa by working together in a cooperative, authentic, positive and principled way,” says Mr van Zyl. Every little contribution to RAL’s Strategic Partnership Approach counts, and goes a long way to develop local areas, municipalities, province and ultimately the country.
Other benefits of these roads to the public and the community include lower vehicle operating cost, safer and improved road traction, and reduced travel time for road users. ZZ2 has other progressive corporate social responsibility initiatives and programmes for its employees and immediate community.
Recently they have been donating food produce to local communities as part of their own relief efforts to ease distress brought upon by the COVID-19 pandemic, a disease caused by the novel Coronavirus. m