Traffic havoc for motorists on the N3 between Durban and Pietermaritzburg due to construction, frequent crashes

Vehicles queue in traffic on a busy highway.

A congested N3 highway in Durban. The construction work taking place on the route between Durban and Pietermaritzburg and frequent accidents has seen motorists sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic for extended hours over the past few weeks. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo African News Agency (ANA)

Published Aug 2, 2023


Durban - Construction work on the N3 between Durban and Pietermaritzburg, coupled with daily accidents, is causing severe congestion on the key route, with the taxi industry among the role-players who have seen their profits affected.

In recent weeks, accidents mostly involving trucks have resulted in motorists travelling between the two cities enduring extended delays often lasting for several hours.

South African National Taxi Council KwaZulu-Natal spokesperson Sthembiso Shangase said the roadworks had presented a massive challenge, but that the industry understood the need for the construction.

“It is quite a challenge, without any doubt, especially during peak hours, and it means that for now during such a period the profits are not like they used to be,” said Shangase.

“As a result of the frequency of the truck accidents, our drivers have had to explore other unconventional routes in order to avoid being stuck in traffic for longer than they have to,” he said. He added that they realised that the construction work once completed would lead to traffic flowing far better in future, and this was the reason that they were withstanding the current challenges.

KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport spokesperson Kwanele Ncalane said a joint management team, which included the department, the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) and local municipalities, had been formed to tackle the high frequency of accidents.

He said they were speeding up the repairs on the R103 to enable the easing of traffic, but admitted that this was made more difficult by the accidents that occurred.

Some of the measures they had implemented in a bid to deal with frequent accidents included:

  • Deploying more traffic officers at troublesome spots.
  • Providing more signage to alert motorists to the construction sites.
  • Scaling down on construction activities during peak hours. “Our appeal is for motorists to plan ahead for whatever trips they want to undertake, and try to be as early as possible and to be tolerant towards one another, because such steps may help in traffic flow,” said Ncalane.

Sanral said earlier this year that the upgrades to the N3 and N2, when completed, would bolster the capacities of the economic arteries from Durban to the rest of South Africa and Africa.