Investigation on road infrastructure, traffic and safety within the Port of Durban
An increase in road traffic, poor road conditions and high numbers of road accidents are major challenges at the Port of Durban. Roads are considered as the most important transport mode at the Port of Durban. Road transport has taken almost 80% of the import and export cargo while railway transport is left with approximately 20%. It is estimated that 75 million lives in the world will be lost and 750 million people injured in road accidents in the first half of the 21th century. The Port of Durban is an important vehicle for facilitating economic growth of local, regional and national industries. For the Port to maintain global competitiveness with the current trend of globalization, it has to ensure that roads are well maintained, safe and have a smooth traffic flow with no delays. This study provides an overview of the road infrastructure within the Port of Durban in relation to road condition, safety, law enforcement and traffic. Existing and ongoing studies conducted in South Africa and abroad form part of the literature review. This study identifies factors that are affecting the condition of road infrastructure such as growth of container cargo, an increase in the dimension and weight of trucks, transport deregulation, port layout and handling equipments. Deregulation of road transport over the past years has resulted in an 80:20 split between road and rail transport putting more pressure on roads. Cost and time are the major deciding factors in the freight industry. Most customers prefer to use road transport due to the lower cost and reduced time compared to rail transport. There are eight major roads within the Port that connect the South, West and North of eThekwini Municipality namely Bayhead, Quayside, Maydon, Rick Turner, Wisely, South Coast, Bluff and Iran Roads. Asset verification and assessment of the condition of the existing eight major roads found that Quayside Road is in a better condition compared to the other roads. Maydon and South Coast Roads are low rated roads which are in a poor condition. Identification and assessment of the condition of 210 000m² of asphalt paved areas which included minor roads within the Port of Durban was also conducted. Most paved areas and roads fall under D (fair) category which is reasonable but maintenance work may be required within six months. Comparison between the condition of the eight major roads within the Port and outside the Port was investigated. The findings indicate that sections of roads outside the Port are in a better condition than sections within the Port. Traffic counts were conducted in order to determine the utilization of the existing eight major roads. Bayhead and South Coast Road are highly utilized roads. Road accident reports and death reports were analyzed on these roads. Most of the road accidents take place on South Coast Road. A questionnaire survey was conducted, targeting road users who travel on these roads within the Port. Feedback was obtained on the status of road conditions, safety and traffic within the Port of Durban. Findings of this survey revealed that most of the respondents don’t know where to report road defect/s within the Port. Approximately 37.5% of the road users felt not safe to drive on roads within the Port especially on South Coast Road. A high percentage of people (93%) witnessed accidents on these roads. Traffic signals within the Port are maintained by eThekwini Municipality and are very often non-functional. When road signs need to be repaired or replaced, it takes longer than expected. Also, there are limited parking areas around the Port resulting in trucks parking closer to the premises while waiting to collect or deliver cargo. This causes major traffic congestion, for example, on Maydon Road where most trucks park on the side of the road. Recommendations include assessment guidelines that could improve road condition, safety and traffic flow. Areas to be improved with regard to road infrastructure are also highlighted.