President Jacob Zuma officially opened the new Dumisani Makhaye Drive (Main Road P577) for public use on Saturday, December 2.
The road was named after the late struggle hero who served in various capacities including as MEC in the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Executive Council.
The naming of the road is part of the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government’s Roads Naming and Renaming Legacy Project, which is aimed at naming and renaming roads and bridges infrastructure in the province’s roads network to help communities reclaim their historical legacy, pride and heritage by giving new, meaningful names to new and existing provincial roads and bridges.
According to Presidential spokesman, Dr Bongani Ngqulunga, the completion of the main road works, which paves the way for the use of the road by members of the public, especially motorists, is a major step in the government’s drive to create easy access for communities for socio-economic development.
The event-packed weekend began with a gravesite visit on Friday by MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, Mxolisi Kaunda, who was joined by eThekwini mayor, Zandile Gumede, and the Makhaye family to pay homage ahead of the official opening.
Later that day, a memorial lecture was delivered by KwaZulu-Natal’s MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs at the KwaMashu Indoor Sports Centre, Sihle Zikalala.
The official opening held at Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium in Clermont marked a historical occasion for the Makhaye family. In his address, Makhaye’s son, Xolani Zondi, expressed delight that his father is being recognised for the contribution he made in the fight for freedom and democracy, though it costed him his father as a child.
“As a son, this is one of the proudest moments of my life. A man who left me when I was a few months old in 1976 and came back when I was in my teens, today is being honoured. He is indeed among a rare and dying breed. We are eternally grateful to the ANC, the one which my father would call ‘indlovu’, is finally stepping aside from the unending fight to make the lives of all our people better, to honour one of their own” he said.
The completion of the R1, 3 billion road infrastructure project makes it the biggest road infrastructure development in the country in five years and epitomizes government’s service delivery excellence and is part of government’s nationwide programme of infrastructure development.
For the first time, the road will connect, among others, the communities of Newlands, KwaMashu, Inanda, KwaDabeka, Clermont and Pinetown. The road which is a new alternative route to the King Shaka International Airport for traffic coming from the Pietermaritzburg and Pinetown areas, will now ease traffic congestion on the N2/ N3 interchange.
The Dumisani Makhaye Drive spans the uMngeni River and provides a strategic link between Duffs Road in KwaMashu to Dinkelman in New Germany. It cuts off a massive 16 kilometers of traffic using the N3 to connect to N2, and will help eradicate the legacy of colonialism and apartheid-based spatial planning.
In her closing remarks, Mayor Gumede noted that the launch of this major road infrastructure programme is a landmark event for eThekwini communities.
“The opening of main road P577 (Dumisani Makhaye Drive) has benefitted our people from construction and it will benefit more people once it is opened. Most of our people spend more money on transport.”
She added, “As the government, it is our duty to intervene by ensuring that at least people spend their monies on other households needs. This 14, 8km road has large retaining walls that create room for our municipality’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, which is part of the Go! Durban infrastructure investment initiative of the city. We will continue with our discussions with the taxi industries and other role-players in ensuring that this project becomes a success for our people. We are committed in the radical economic transformation agenda and will not destroy business of own people. We want to see more opportunities for our informal traders and everyone along this route.”