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All systems go for ‘invasion’

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'Gaps will be left at all the interlinking roads to allow vehicles to cross over on Monday and Tuesday but on Wednesday, the day of the actual parade, motors will not be able to use the interlinking roads'

Facilitator, General Mgobozi (SANDF).

IT’S ALL systems go for next Wednesday’s Armed Forces Day and the city’s first road closures are set to take place from Thursday this week, which will affect the road in front of the AR Abass Stadium, which is where the Fan Park will be situated.

This area, namely Pniel Road between Stokroos Street and old Barkly Road, as well as Todd and Harry streets, will be closed from Thursday (February 15) until next week Wednesday (February 21).

The remaining road closures will be on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday next week.

On Monday (February 19) the affected roads will be closed from 6am until 3pm and on Tuesday and Wednesday (February 20 and 21) they will be closed from 5am until 3pm.

The roads that will be affected on these days will be:

* Du Toitspan/Main Road between Hercules Street, Lennox Street and Regiment Road (i.e. from Beaconsfield to the Auto Pedigree intersection)

* Carrington Road

* Memorial Road

* Lyndhurst Road

* Lennox Street

Explaining the programme at a press conference yesterday, spokesperson for the Office of the Premier, Monwabisi Nkompela, said that the mechanised columns would form from the corner of Atlas Street and Main Road, go down Main Road to Hercules Street, across Central Road, into Fabrica Road, Study Street and into Oliver Road.

“Gaps will be left at all the interlinking roads to allow vehicles to cross over on Monday and Tuesday but on Wednesday, the day of the actual parade, motorists will not be able to use the interlinking roads.”

The drill platoons, meanwhile, will line up from the corner of Carrington Road and Memorial Road, up Memorial Road into Hemming Street, and into Synagogue Street and Du Toitspan Road.

The area in front of the Cenotaph, where the actual wreath-laying ceremony will take place, will be a red-zone area, where no public access will be allowed.

Nkompela said yesterday that the Department of Education would send out circulars to the 10 schools affected regarding access roads and pick-up points, while information would also be distributed to all the occupants of the flats, as well as affected businesses, hospitals and residents.

Negotiations have also been held with the local taxi associations.

The affected schools that have been identified are St Patrick’s College, St Cyprian’s, Girls’ HIgh School, Diamantveld, Boys’ High School, Kimberley Junior, Staats and Greenpoint primary and high school.

“Each pupil will receive a notification indicating which roads will be open to allow access to the various schools in order for parents to drop off and pick up their children. On these days, we just ask that the children be dropped off before 7.30am.”

Access to Kimberley Hospital will be from Synagogue Street, while for Mediclinic it will be Park Road. The paediatricians’ offices can be accessed from Loch Street.

Residents living in the affected areas and who need to get to work are also asked to leave by 7.30am.

“Unfortunately, once they have left they will not be able to access their homes by vehicle until after 3pm.”

He added that every effort would be made to mitigate any possible negative impact.

The drill platoons will lead the parade to the front of the Cenotaph, where the State President, as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, will lay a wreath in honour of the soldiers who died when the SS Mendi sank in 1917 on February 21.

“The more than 7 000 soldiers taking part in the event will march past the Cenotaph, left into Lennox Street and will fall out at McDonald’s in town.

The four mechanised columns will split into four different directions once they have passed the Cenotaph, with one column going into Roodepan, one into Galeshewe, one into Greenpoint and one into Hercules Street. Several roads will be affected as the columns drive through Kimberley’s streets but these will not be closed.

The SA Air Force will accompany the parade in the air.

Motorists have also been advised to use the R64 (the Boshof/Dealesville road) for all incoming and outgoing traffic to and from Bloemfontein. “This will prevent lengthy delays on the N8”.

Large screens will be placed at various locations around town, including in front of the Cecil John Rhodes statue, to allow the public to view the event on Wednesday next week. Screens will also be placed at the Fan Park at the AR Abass Stadium and everyone is encouraged to visit the Fan Park instead of attempting to view the parade from the road.

An acrobatic team will also be in action at the Fan Park.

The Department of Education will be hosting 18 000 pupils from around the Province over the week from this Thursday.

Department of Education spokesperson, Geoffrey van der Merwe, said 3 000 pupils form Grades 9 to 11 would be transported to Kimberley each day, while matric pupils will be accommodated on Saturday and Sunday.

“We are appealing to everyone for their patience and indulgence during the programme, especially the broader community of Kimberley to bear with us with the huge volumes of traffic and overcrowded places in and around the city, as well as the noise levels with the choppers and army vehicles in the city.”

Nkompela pointed out that while an event of this magnitude came with a bit of inconvenience for the residents, the large number of soldiers would give the economy of Kimberley a huge injection.

“All the accommodation places are fully booked, the restaurants and malls are overcrowded and the entertainment places are making a killing with all the soldiers hanging out when they get a chance.”