The state of rural roads in the Eastern Cape has been the source of numerous public protests. But residents of Tsomo are not sitting idle. They are building their own roads. Residents say the Intsika Yethu Municipality has failed to construct or maintain its road for over a decade now. This road connects 12 villages and is in complete ruin. It is known for its huge holes and ruined bridges. It becomes even more dangerous when it rains. Four people have been reportedly swept away in the past.
“Three bridges that connect to us are in a bad state, one village doesn’t have a bridge at all. It becomes even worse if it’s raining, children cannot go to school. This road which is used by scholar transports is completely ruined,” says resident Mlungisi Sonyabashe.
“Learners from five villages are cut off when it rains. Scholar transport waits for them here and they have to walk a very long distance since their areas are not accessible. Four people have been swept away trying to cross low lying bridges,” says learner Asemahle Madinga.
Residents are now trying to fix their road. It is impossible for emergency vehicles and scholar transport to access the villages.
“We decided as residents to start this project to fix this road since it is in such a bad state. We started near R61 and we are hoping to continue to all these villages. Residents contributed so that we can eat and pay those who are working,” says Vukuzenzela Uzenzele Project’s Mlondolozi Mabhentsela.
“We struggle as taxi operators. It’s not a road anymore, it’s dongas. Even if someone is sick, they die in our cars so we see many bad things. Sixteen people were injured early this year after a car rolled over. We have high profile people from this area like General Tyemeza, Andile Lungisa also use this road,” says taxi operator Sbongile Sonyabashe.
The municipality says a program to fix the road has commenced.
“As Intsika Yethu we experienced heavy rains resulting to damaged road infrastructure in many wards. In 2019/2020, the municipality constructed and maintained through a municipal infrastructure grant which is the only grant we have. The municipality revised the intervention plan that is aimed at making a number of rural areas accessible,” says Khanyisa Mdleleni, Mayor: Intsika Yethu Municipality.
Residents refute the claim that work is being done on their roads. They say the Intsika Yethu Municipality also did not want to assist them with their project to fix the road.