PEOPLE and businesses who regularly use the N2 between Port Elizabeth and Grahamstown face months of costly, time-consuming detours while a 45m gap in the road is repaired.
The damage was caused by the heavy rains last weekend.
Provincial Arrive Alive spokesman Tshepo Machaea said the Transport Department was assessing the damage and it should be known by tomorrow how long repairs would take.
Eastern Cape Traffic Department deputy director Charles Bramwell said in the interim there were only two detours which vehicles travelling between Port Elizabeth and Grahamstown could use.
Heavy vehicles would not be allowed to use the R72 between East London, Port Alfred and Port Elizabeth, and officials would divert large trucks and buses to the N10.
"The road [N2] was damaged about 20km outside Grahamstown but we are diverting traffic at the Nanaga junction 55km east of Port Elizabeth. All light motor vehicles are directed on to the R72 towards Alexandria while heavy vehicles are diverted towards Paterson and the N10 towards the Olifantskop Pass and Cookhouse," Bramwell said.
From Cookhouse, trucks and buses would continue on the R63 to Bedford and then use the Riebeek East road to Grahamstown.
"Light vehicles will take the R72 from Nanaga towards Alexandria and then, between Kenton-on-Sea and Alexandria, they will take the Salem turn and then go back on to the N2 towards Grahamstown."
Heavy vehicles travelling from East London to Port Elizabeth would take the N2 to King William's Town and then be diverted to the R63 to Alice, Fort Beaufort and Adelaide, and then 10km outside Bedford, take the N10 towards Cookhouse. These vehicles would then join the N2 again at the Nanaga junction.
"For light vehicles travelling between East London and Port Elizabeth, there are three stop-and-go controls on the R72 where there will only be a single lane of traffic allowed.
"The first one is 8km east of Port Alfred, the second is between Port Alfred and Kenton-on-Sea at the Kasouga Bridge. The third stop-and-go is 13km from Alexandria," Bramwell said.
Transport and logistics company Grindrod's regional manager, Frederico Andrews, said "smaller courier companies or taxi businesses that use that road oftenwill feel the pinch the most".
The South African National Roads Agency Limited said it was assessing the damage to the N2 and how long it would take to be repaired.