Fields Hill: MEC’s decision based purely on guesswork

Radley Keys, MPP

Member of the DA Caucus in the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature

The recent executive statement on Fields Hill, by KZN Transport MEC Willies Mchunu, and the department’s decision not to close the road to all heavy vehicles on the basis that it will severely impact commercial and business activity in the area appears to be based entirely on assumption.

Last week the MEC also announced a proposal to spend hundreds of millions of rand on upgrading Fields Hill – again without any indication of research having been carried out.

It is unacceptable that the MEC should put such proposals to the Legislature without clear evidence.

Most “heavies” use Fields Hill, not to deliver goods to businesses along the M13, but to escape the tolls at Mariannhill. There are very few businesses along the Kloof/Gillitts stretch while an exit from Hillcrest back onto the N3 can also be made more safely via Kassier road.  Access to Pinetown’s main industrial areas is also far better via Richmond road.

The DA has submitted the following questions to MEC Mchunu;

–        How many “heavies” enter the M13 at Key Ridge on average a day?

–        How many of these “heavies” exit the M13 before Fields Hill daily?

–        How many “heavies” exiting at Hillcrest choose the M13 rather than Kassier Road and the N2?

–        In light of the above, what is the estimated cost to business if Fields Hill was closed to “heavies”

The DA has already proposed a simple solution to the MEC’S dilemma. We have suggested that the department test the effect on business communities along the M13 by banning heavy vehicles from Fields Hill for 6 months. Placing a temporary embargo on “heavies” will very soon show the precise extent and areas of concern that this closure creates and what alternate solutions need to be found.

This suggestion has been stubbornly ignored, not because it is a bad idea but because it has been made by the DA.

The MEC’s executive report is also yet another attempt to deflect attention from the Transport department’s failure to respond to numerous submissions, over many years, from various people including DA MPP’s and councilors to close Fields Hill to heavy vehicles. The responsibility for this oversight must ultimately fall squarely on the person in charge, MEC Mchunu.

The DA expects MEC Mchunu to substantiate his claims.