Several doctors' rooms are also situated in Du Toitspan Road and it's not certain what arrangements have been made
WHILE Kimberley is fluffing its feathers in preparation for this month’s massive Armed Forces Day, which will take place over a full week, residents are in the dark about the arrangements, which are likely to result in chaos in the city with the closure of several roads.
Old Barkly Road will be closed from Thursday next week already, while several other roads will be closed for three days on February 19, 20 and 21 (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday).
Hospitals, schools, businesses and doctors’ offices situated in town are likely to be inaccessible to traffic as a host of roads leading to, as well as in the vicinity of, the Cenotaph World War Monument in Du Toitspan Road will be closed.
The only public information that has been issued so far is a list of the roads that will be closed.
The roads will be closed from 9am on February 19 and 20 for “rehearsals”, although there is no indication of how long they will be closed for, as well as on February 21, which is the actual day of the military parade and the handing over of the medals, which is due to be presided over by the State President.
No details have been released regarding the times that the roads will be closed on February 21.
It is believed that a logistics meeting will be held this morning to finalise the road closures and the pick-up and drop-off points.
Arrangements that have been made so far is that the motorised units will line up in Main Road, from the intersection of Atlas Street. The line-up will go down to Hercules Street, across Central Road, along Fabricia Road and up to Study Street.
The vehicle column is approximately 6.2km long and the vehicles in the parade will be positioned along the route so as to allow cross-flow traffic to proceed normally.
The marching columns, meanwhile, will form up in Memorial Road (between Synagogue Street and Du Toitspan Road), Carrington Road (between Main Road and Dalham Road) and in Du Toitspan Road (between Memorial Road and Carrington Road).
The identified roads that will be closed on the three days are: Memorial Road at the Monument; Carrington Road at Dalham Road; Lennox Street (confirmation on where the road is to be closed is still awaited); Du Toitspan Road between Hercules, Lennox and Regiment Way; Pniel Road between Stokroos Street and old Barkly Road (from February 15 to 21); Todd and Harley Street; and all roads connecting Du Toitspan Road.
The public has also been advised to avoid the area bordering on Lennox, Du Toitspan Road (from Regiment Way down to Hercules Street), Park Road, Synagogue Street, Dalham Road, Hercules Street, Fabricia Road, Pneil Road and Carrington Road (between Dalham and Elsmere Road).
Several questions, however, remained unanswered yesterday.
Concerned residents pointed out that the closures would have a massive impact on traffic, especially for schools in the area, and questions were raised about whether the schools would be closed or alternative arrangements would be made for parents to fetch and drop off their children.
Hospitals, including the Kimberley Hospital as well as Mediclinic Kimberley, will also be affected, as well as doctors’ consulting rooms, private ambulance depots, the SA National Blood Service and a host of other businesses in Du Toitspan Road.
Mediclinic Kimberley spokesperson, Denise Coetzee, said yesterday that meetings had been held with the co-ordinating committee and indications were that although Du Toitspan Road would be closed, the hospital could be accessed from Park Road. “We will put signs up informing our clients of the details,” she said.
Several doctors’ rooms are also situated in Du Toitspan Road and it is not certain what arrangements have been made in this regard in order for patients to access the surgeries.
Residents living in the affected streets have also questioned whether they will have access to their homes.
Spokesperson for the Northern Cape Department of Education, Geoffrey van der Merwe, said yesterday that no schools would be closed and, in fact, the department would be hosting approximately 18 000 pupils from across the Province over a period of six days, starting from Thursday next week.
The majority of the pupils will be from the Frances Baard District. Those from outside Kimberley will be transported to and from the city and around 880 pupils from the Namaqua District will be accommodated overnight in the city.
“We have issued a circular from the MEC’s office to all schools in the Province because a big part of the event is the attendance of pupils. Each of the 51 schools involved will identify approximately 118 pupils in Grades 9, 10 and 11 to attend. A total of 3 000 Grade 12 pupils will be accommodated over the weekend (February 16, 17 and 18) because the department does not want to lose out on valuable learning time for our matrics,” said Van der Merwe
He added that learning would also continue for all other pupils over this period.
The parade is likely to be the biggest Kimberley has ever seen, and will include 6 525 SANDF members, along with 41 aircraft from the SA Air Force, 222 specialised vehicles, 374 operational vehicles, 66 buses and 60 motorcycles.
Among the units participating in the parade will be a flag company, a gun carriage, marching columns, military bands, mechanised columns with hundreds of vehicles and a fly-past by the SA Air Force, with aircraft including Hawk and Gripen, C-130, CASA 212, King Air transports, and Rooivalk, Agusta A109 and BK117 helicopters as well as Pilatus PC-7 trainers, SAAF Museum aircraft as well as a performance by the Silver Falcons Aerobatic display team.
Guest houses, hotels and lodges in the city will be bursting at the seams over this period, with many of the military personnel already having arrived or due to arrive in the next day or two.
Vehicles have also started to roll into the city.
Meanwhile, municipal spokesperson Sello Matsie said yesterday that as the host city, the local authority was doing everything it could to co-operate with the Defence Force in the hosting of the event.
“This includes the condition of our roads, where the parade will be taking place, as well as the cleaning up of the area around the Cenotaph. We are also ensuring that the water and electricity supply will not be disrupted during this period,” said Matsie.
Already municipal teams have been hard at work patching potholes in affected roads, while a large numbers of workers, dressed in red overalls, are cleaning up the area around Du Toitspan Road and flowers have been planted on the islands in Egerton Road.