TRANS African Concessions (TRAC), manager of the only cross-border toll route in Africa – N4 Maputo Corridor, has begun a series of major upgrades and expansion on the national route connecting Pretoria to Maputo, set to gulp 1.8 billion rand ($202 million).
In 1997, TRAC was awarded a 30-year Concession contract to build, manage and expand the N4 network stretching 503 km under the purview of a public-private partnership, involving the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) and Mozambique’s National Roads Administration.
According to BDlive, TRAC CEO Arthur Coy while commenting on the maintenance exercise during a media tour of the toll route said: “Roads require ongoing investment to continue adding value to road users.”
Mr Coy added that an efficiently managed road infrastructure facilitates trade, transaction speed, economic growth and creates opportunities for tourism growth.
The development of the N4 infrastructure significantly cut down to four hours, the six to nine hours it previously took to cover the across-border journey. The corridor has also become an increasingly important export route for mining companies operating in South Africa.
South African travelling to Mozambique on vacation and many Mozambicans who work and live in South Africa access the concession to cross the border. According to Mozambique’s tourism authorities, over 50 percent of the country’s tourist visitors in 2011came from South Africa.
Since adding a further 80km between Witbank and Pretoria TRAC has planned major maintenance and rehabilitation work to be executed over the next ten years. During the 2012-13 financial year, the South African company awarded a 600 million rand ($67.5 million) contract for expansion projects and another 300 million rand ($33.5 million) for rehabilitation exercise.
A further estimated R500m will be awarded during the 2013-14 financial year for road improvements and about R400m for rehabilitation work.
Upgrades are expected to start early next year between Nelspruit and Malalane, Middelburg and Wonderfontein, and Moamba and Matola in Mozambique.
Trac spent 1.5 billion rand ($169 million) on improvements to the world-class highway at the start of its 30-year contract.
The 571km road network begins at the Solomon Mahlangu Street interchange (formerly Hans Strijdom) in Pretoria and ends at Port Maputo in Mozambique. TRAC operates six toll plazas along the route.