Transport department to embark on nationwide pothole eradicating program

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South Africa is facing a huge road infrastructure maintenance backlog estimated to be more than R 200-billion.

As much as 40% of the provincial road network has reached the end of its design life, and approximately 80% of the national road network is now older than the 20-year design life.

Bad roads

The state of roads has also been the spark of numerous protests by irate residents and motorists.  Dilapidated roads are a common sight in the Eastern Cape. One such is the R411 from Viedgesville to Coffee Bay – a 75 km exercise in extreme driving caution.

The R411 takes tourists to the world-famous Coffee Bay, but it barely resembles a proper road. For the past two decades residents have been calling for action. Local businesses and taxi associations say they have suffered a huge blow due to the condition of the road.

Transport Department promises to repair Eastern Cape roads

Lives lost

“It’s been a while as we are actually hearing from our elders because since 2000 we’ve been actually saying this road needs to be fixed, so it’s been a while. It’s more than 15 years or 20 years”. …”We lost many lives here, they caused many accidents. We have tyre bursts, many things that happened here. So it affects us a lot.” says disgruntled motorists.

Nasiphi Jobodwana, from Coffee Bay believes poor roads also impact service delivery.

She says, “You would call an ambulance at around seven in the evening, but it will arrive around about 10 at night due to the poor condition of the road.”

High traffic levels

The nearby Lusikisiki is also known for its potholed roads. High traffic volumes and extreme weather conditions make the situation even worse.

Residents say, “Lusikisiki roads are in a very bad condition, you’d swear you are not driving in town due to the condition of the road- there are so many potholes here.”… “It’s been long since the municipality fixed the road, so much that some people have filled the potholes with soil, but that does not last because they do re-open soon after they fill them in.”

Road backlogs

South Africa’s Road maintenance backlogs continue to grow, Transport Minister, Fikile Mbalula, says a national program is coming, to address the backlogs. He says the launching of the vala zonke programme which will target potholes in the main roads, in the regional roads in the provinces.

Mbalula elaborates, “President has directed me that I must launch this project nationally and I must go and work with the private sector and anyone else and then also bring the necessary skill in terms of closing of potholes, so that when you close the pothole, you know you don’t do it for cameras, the pothole is closed. After two weeks when heavy rains comes the potholes open up.

Thousands of jobs

Thousands of job opportunities are expected to be created during the Vala Zonke project. This project will be evaluated on a six-monthly basis.