Popular Hillcrest market access road is repaired

Read : 299 times
Highway Mail

After what was thought to be an indefinite closure, cooperation between citizens and the municipality has resulted in a speedy repair.

The completed repair on the Mr551, the access road running between Hillcrest and the market.

WHEN the April floods decimated large parts of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), the road leading to one of the city’s most popular craft markets was in the path of the massive destruction.

More than 400 people lost their lives, 4 000 homes were destroyed and 40 000 people were displaced. Stallholders and market staff feared losing their livelihoods permanently, and then an extraordinary collaboration between citizens and government occurred.

How it all started

Christine Standeaven, owner of the Shongweni Farmers and Craft Market, explains, “We had the market on Saturday, April 9, and rain was predicted for the next day. By Wednesday, April 12, we had a gaping hole in the access road, the Mr551, near Hillcrest. At the market itself, we had some damage just before the entrance, and  one sinkhole in the DMOSS (Durban Metropolitan Open Space System) area at the back of the market.”

Standeaven immediately contacted the relevant government departments for assistance. She said that the Department of Transport (DOT) agreed to source the building material, and eThekwini Metro Municipality would undertake the construction of the project. The repair was planned for the first week of May.

“Then the second flood happened, and the North Coast was so badly affected. I thought we would be forgotten; they think we are a farm road, but we aren’t. The road repair is not only for our benefit as we have businesses down this hill that need access for their trucks. The road then leads into Nthshongweni,” said the business owner.

After the second flooding event in May, DOT was no longer able to supply the materials, and the market owners stepped in.

Standeaven says, “We offered to source and pay for all the materials required. eThekwini Metro came on board with their engineers, staff and equipment. Under the guidance of Manqoba Shange, senior manager at eThekwini Municipality, the work started on Friday, June 3. The first step was laying massive stormwater pipes that now run under the new road.”

“The engineer gave us a list of what he wanted. We sourced G7 soil, which is essential for building roads. We are grateful that a neighbour down the road had two cliff faces of it. We asked if we could buy the sand, and he offered it to us for free. We excavated what we needed,” she says.

The new section of road was completed the following Thursday, after the construction crew worked late into the night and through the weekend.

“Then the final thing we needed was the gabions, filled with a special type of rock. The gabions are for future storms – they will direct the water into the pipe. When assessing the damage, we realised that the scuff from sugar cane, which had just been cut in the field above the pipe, was washed down and jammed the small pipe. The force of the water just opened another path,” says Standeaven.

Challenges faced

Sourcing construction materials after the floods was challenging as they weren’t the only ones looking. The municipality has been under extreme pressure to repair damaged infrastructure in the wake of the April floods.

“This work would have been done in totality by the relevant departments, however, we could not wait until the end of the year for this road repair. Everyone was amazing and came together to do this project,” says the Shongweni Farmers and Craft Market owner.

The Standeaven family funded the road repair, and those stallholders who could put something towards it.

The market was founded 23 years ago by the family as an outlet for their surplus mushroom stock from their farm. The market has been at the current location for the past eight years.

Sign up for Free Daily Building and Construction News