Besides the overall terrible state of roads in the North West, potholes big enough to cause serious damage to vehicles have formed all over the roads to such an extent that it is almost impossible to find roads without potholes.
Other than causing damage to vehicles, potholes on municipal, provincial and national roads endanger the lives of both motorists and pedestrians, causing motorists to swerve out to dodge them, sometimes into oncoming traffic and sometimes at the risk of those on foot beside the road.
The manager of the MBT garage in Hartbeespoort, Wessel Wessels spoke to the Kormorant about this problem. He said that, until recently, they would assist people with damaged tyres and rims on an almost daily basis. “We do not repair tyres at MBT, but always try to assist people who come in with damage to their wheels,” he says.
What has changed? Wessel said that on Sunday the biggest pothole, which had caused most of the damage to vehicles, in the middle of the three-way intersection on the R511 at the turn-off to Hartbeespoort High school, was filled with sand, that has seemingly made it better. “I think the fact that the Om-die-Dam Ultramarathon is happening this weekend has helped a lot and motivated the fixing of our roads,” he says.
Meanwhile a recent High Court decision has likely set a new precedent that could allow for private citizens and bodies to perform basic service delivery functions with taxpayers’ money.
This judgement, made in the Eastern Cape High Court, ordered the provincial Roads Department to reimburse farmers in the area who carry out maintenance themselves, subject to strict conditions including giving the department 30 days notice of the repairs and obtaining at least two independent quotes. This is a trend which may well work its way to other provinces in the country, although people seem weary of whether they will actually be reimbursed and whether there are available funds from the various municipalities to make payments to civilians. At the time of the judgement, president of Agri Eastern Cape, Douglas Steyn, told the Eastern Cape paper, Dispatch, that the ruling would likely have far-reaching consequences around the country as other farmers and civil society groups will follow suit. The Kormorant tried, to no avail, to contact North West department of Public Works and Roads, but unfortunately nobody was available for comments.