Building Bridges

Cape Town’s unfinished freeways have become something of a cult icon for the city.
Of course, we have other cult icons as well – many of them – but for those individuals who get off on major roads which have not been completed, perhaps unsurprisingly, the unfinished freeways are the cult icon of choice.

They’re famous too. They’ve been in films, music videos and just about every advert in South Africa.
They even held a giant vuvuzela during the World Cup.

Just last year, ever popular Transport MEC Robin Carlisle announced that the unfinished freeways would not be finished on his watch, citing their poor state of repair, the fact that it wouldn’t do anything to relieve traffic congestion and the huge cost involved. It seems likely that Carlisle is a descendant of Franz Schubert, who never finished his 8th Symphony for at least two of the same reasons.

However, now it seems that a young pretender to Carlisle’s throne, Councillor Brett Herron, Mayoral Committee Member for Transport, Roads and Stormwater, has other ideas about the freeways – and presumably therefore, also over the length of Carlisle’s Provincial tenure.

A proposal to partner with the University of Cape Town (UCT) to find creative ways to complete the unfinished highway on the city’s foreshore has been approved by the Portfolio Committee for Transport, Roads and Stormwater. It will soon be submitted to a full Council meeting for approval.
Students at UCT will be asked to review and consider existing proposed conceptual design reports of the incomplete sections of the Foreshore Freeway. They will then draft innovative design proposals for the incomplete sections of the Freeway taking into account its importance and critical function not only in improving access to the City, but also in improving living and working conditions for people in the CBD and surrounds.

Somewhere, towards the back of my battle worn brain, alarm bells are sounding. I think it could be something to do with the fact that despite the fact fully trained engineers and economists have suggested that there is no value in completing the freeways, Councillor Herron seems to think that students – students – may know better. And he’s asked them to be “creative” while they do it.

Oh dear.

Forgive my naivety, but surely the best way of completing the freeways – if that is the course of action you’re going to take – would be to simply join the ends of the bridges together? Sure, I know that “creativity” and “design” are ever so trendy right now, but we have enough road deaths without drunk engineering students playing on Upper Campus computers late one Friday night and us ending up with a big loop the loop outside the CTICC.

But no:

“We trust that the bright young minds of UCT’s Engineering and Built Environment faculty will find the best solution” said Cllr Herron.

Oh, do you?
And have you run that past Uncle Robin yet?

  • Ronnie

    Brilliant as ever

  • Gary

    Well, you know the old saying…hire a teenager while they still know everything.

    So maybe using students to work out a way to get something done old heads couldn’t work out is out of that same book.

    Or else Robin Carlisle is an absolute idiot who has no clue what he’s talking about.

    Nah, can’t be that.

    Could it?