The SANParks roads research team of the Department of Civil Engineering Science
at the University of Johannesburg, consisting of Deon Kruger (research leader) with Geoffrey Sewart and Christopher Gau as research assistants, found themselves in the heart of the lion’s den during the recent university April recess. The team had ventured off up to the Kruger National Park to inspect and investigate the nature and state of the 1800km dirt roads that feature in the park.
Partnered with Isuzu, and working closely with SANParks and the CSIR, the team has been tasked with the mammoth duty of developing a method of chemically stabilising the dirt roads that currently exist in the extensive road networks contained within the park itself. The main objective that has been defined by the relevant stakeholders, is to develop a sustainable method of road material stabilisation that would prevent gravel loss on the road networks as well as improve dust suppression whilst remaining environmentally friendly and green.
One of the most crucial requirements for this project is the aesthetic appeal that the dirt roads will take on after stabilisation has been applied. This park is a world renowned conservation area and the environmental heritage is of utmost importance. It is thus crucial to create an environment that functions as well as any modern society would with the conveniences and luxuries as demanded by visitors from all over the globe, but with the look and feel of the natural heart of the bushveld around them. With this in mind, the gravel roads that the many tourists travel on need to look as natural as can be while functioning as well as any paved road would.
Digging for soil samples with Zebras as spectators
The team’s recent visit to the Kruger National Park is but the first step on a long journey to success. The foundation has been laid and the seeds of success have been sown by the team, and this is where the hard research and development work now begins. Long hours of laboratory testing, many pages of researching and investigating are scheduled for the months to follow.
Success in this project would not only affect the Kruger National Park, but may be rolled out to other parks and rural roads in areas which rely on dirt roads as transportation platforms. This project has the potential to revolutionise the unpaved world and bring all remote places closer to technological advancement.
The SANParks roads research team at UJ invites any company or institution who wishes to contribute to this exciting project, to make contact with the project leader.