Fleet Street project to finish in December

The multimillion-rand Fleet Street upgrade project in East London will be completed on December 1.

LONG ROAD: East London motorists and residents will be happy to know the completion date of the fleet Street upgrade project is December 1 this year. Picture: SIBONGILE NGALWA

A report to council by Buffalo City Metro (BCM) head of infrastructure Nceba Ncunyana confirmed the finish date.

The project has faced a number of problems since it was first awarded to Siyahlobisa Projects in May 2013, with the initial construction period expected to be two years.

Instead, the contract was cancelled with only 18% of the work done in the first year. The Daily Dispatch reported last year that one of the reasons for the delays had been labourers who complained the main sub-contractor was not paying them.

The workers said they had been asked to work one week a month instead of four because of contract changes between Siyahlobisa and BCM.

The project was suspended in September 2014, and in November that year BCM terminated the contract with Siyahlobisa due to “poor performance”.

Crossmoor Transport and Plant was subsequently awarded the R128.3-million tender to complete the project from Currie Street to Pontoon Road. Ncunyana said since Crossmoor started work on July 29 2016, progress had been made.

He confirmed the expected completion date as December 1. “At this stage Crossmoor is on target to meet the completion deadline,” Ncunyana said in the report.

“As Fleet Street is an important road for economic activities in the city, its rehabilitation may lead to traffic congestion and, therefore, a traffic impact assessment plan was undertaken and its recommendation was that a number of roads had to be rehabilitated and upgraded so as to divert traffic from Fleet Street,” Ncunyana said.

The streets to be utilised to divert traffic include Alston Street, Burns Street, Rhodes Street, Station Street, Terminus Street, Buffalo Street, Cambridge Street and Commercial Road.

BCM spokesman Samkelo Ngwenya said this weekend work would be completed on the northern side of Fleet Street (between Station Street and Oxford Street).

The section will be open to traffic by Monday next week.

“The contractor will then close the southern side, commence with excavations and layer works as of July 25, with completion of this work anticipated to be achieved by the second week of September 2017.

“Thereafter the works will move from Oxford to Pontoon Road with roadworks planned to be complete by December.”

He said they would inform motorists in due course about the “finer details and traffic accommodation”.

Ncunyana said BCM still intended to introduce a Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system in which the lower part of Oxford Street would be turned into a pedestrian zone.

“The objective is therefore to upgrade and rehabilitate Fleet Street to cater for the high axle loads as well as to cater for the new traffic patterns on completion of the BRT,” Ncunyana said.

Border-Kei Chamber of Business director Les Holbrook said: “We cannot comment on the news that they will be finished in December except to say let’s hope so. That is what we will hold them to.”

“Thank goodness it is not the first company that is doing the work now because the first phase of the project was a disaster. This one has been moving and meeting deadlines.

“The problem with these projects is that the companies are trying to fix the road and also keep the traffic moving.” — mamelag@dispatch.co.za

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