A resident of Potchefstroom in the North West, Dirk Venter, has taken upon himself to repair 2 500 potholes in the town every year, at his own expense.
Dirk Venter says he is motivated by the desire to keep the roads in a good condition.
The ripple effects of COVID-19 have, caused support for Venter’s initiative to dwindle.
The 67 year-old Dirk has been fixing potholes in Potchefstroom for nearly a decade.
He has done this without receiving support from the JB Marks local municipality, who is responsible to maintain the town’s infrastructure.
South Africa is facing a huge road infrastructure maintenance backlog:
Venter says he has been supported by local businesses in the form of donations.
But the after-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic saw those businesses withdrawing their support.
However, this has not deterred Venter, who says the sight of potholes unsettles him.
“From the beginning, the potholes bothered me a lot, and if you want to do it with your brain, you will never do it, you have to do it with your heart, and even you support something like this, you must not think with your brain to support. You must think with your heart otherwise you will make no success.”
Venter creatively recycles leftover material dumped on the side of the roads during road construction and uses it to patch the potholes.
He then uses the donations to supplement the material when there’s shortages.
His good initiative has created jobs for five men, some of whom had lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The employees says they are grateful for this initiative.
His deeds are not going unnoticed in the town. The residents of Potchefstroom have thanked Venter for his initiative.
“He is doing an excellent job for the town and must really thank him for what he is doing for the town. As a taxi driver, I must say, he is doing a very good job and we are very grateful for what he is doing.”
The JB Marks Local Municipality five years ago said it was considering working with Venter unfortunately nothing came of it.
The municipality’s acting communications manager, Jeanette Tshite says they lost contact with him.
“Due to changes in the administration in the municipality over time, there could be a loss of information and breakdown in communication between the municipality Venter. However, the municipality does support any initiative that may come from any member of community that is done in the best interest of our communities to improve their lives.”
Some roads in Lichtenburg and Mahikeng are also riddled with potholes. The motorists’ plea is for government to consistently maintain the roads, to avoid potholes, which may very well be mistaken for fishponds.
Operation Vala Zonke
The Department of Transport is embarking on an ambitious national project to repair potholes across South Africa (SA). Government launched Operation Vala Zonke on Monday morning. The initiative aims to repair potholes across South Africa.
It is part of a 16-month campaign, focusing on provincial and municipal roads.
Operation Vala Zonke I SANRAL aims to ensure the national road network is in an acceptable condition
Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula says his department is willing to assist municipalities that lack capabilities and skills to fix the potholes on their local roads. Mbalula launched the multi-million-rand Vala Zonke project in Sasolburg at Emfuleni Municipality.
Potholes in SA – Operation Vala Zonke launch
Gallery: Department of Transport and Sanral launch Operation Vala Zonke campaign