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Focus now on ‘township’ roads

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The condition of many roads continues to deteriorate on a daily basis

DANGER: A hole has formed on the corner of Boshof and Park road in Belgravia and a water is seen running below a water pipe.

WHILE the Sol Plaatje Municipality has committed itself to focusing on upgrading roads in the township, declaring that it has “done well in the past to upgrade city roads”, roads throughout Kimberley continue to deteriorate on a daily basis.

In the draft budget for 2018/19, the executive report states: “Roads are as critical; it is what investors see as they prospect business opportunities. We did well in the past in the upgrade of city roads; focus now is back to the township, be it the township of Roodepan, or the township of Roylden, our eyes and plans are there.”

According to the city’s executive mayor, Mangaliso Matika, the municipality is set to “invest”
R23 million of MIG Funds in the resealing and paving of roads.

Despite the millions spent every year on the maintenance of roads in the city, the condition of many roads continues to deteriorate on a daily basis. In the current financial year, a total of R22.88 million was spent on repairs and maintenance of city roads.

City residents have reported potholes across the city, from Homestead, where the holes are said to be a “real nightmare with little holes becoming huge following the rain”, to Cassandra, Colville, Roodepan and even directly opposite the municipality’s offices in Bultfontein Road. “If you try to miss one pothole, you hit two more,” one resident commented.

Another pointed out that if a driver hit the massive pothole in Bultfontein Road, he or she was “likely to lose all four wheels of their vehicle, and even the rims”.

“What is being done about the roads? Is there a plan in action to restore the roads? This needs attention, we are paying thousands of rand for tyres, rims and wheel alignment,” the resident stated.

According to the measurable performance objectives of the municipality for roads for the 2018/19 financial year, the aim for the coming financial year is to upgrade at least 12km of Galeshewe access roads to a paved surface by June 30, 2019 (wards 6, 7, 9, 10 and 15), as well as to upgrade 2.2 km of Roodepan access roads to a paved surface.

No mention is made of any planned work on other roads in the city.

Municipal spokesperson Sello Matsie admitted that the state of roads in the city had deteriorated, adding that this was aggravated by the heavy rains and floods experienced in Kimberley since the beginning of the year.

“We are aware of the state of some of the roads mentioned by residents, while those that are coming to our attention for the first time will also be added onto our priority list.”

Matsie added that most of the tarred roads in Kimberley were already very old and susceptible to cracking and deterioration during heavy rains, which resulted in potholes opening up in a very short period.

“The excessive rains we experienced over the past three months has adversely affected our pothole patching and has resulted in a number of new potholes opening up, increasing the pothole backlog. Added to this problem, is the fact that road maintenance teams cannot attend to any of the road defects whilst the surface is wet, which further delayed our response time.”

He pointed out, however, that with the rainy season coming to an end, the municipality had developed an accelerated maintenance plan to deal with all the damage caused by the rain and to ensure that the city’s roads were in a good state when the next rainy season started.

“This will, however, come at a high cost. We are constantly looking at different ways to improve our maintenance techniques in order to increase our internal production capacity so that we can keep up with the maintenance demand.”

Matsie stated that roads had been allocated approximately
R10 million for maintenance in the 2017/18 (current) financial year, which, he pointed out, was nowhere close to meeting the maintenance demand, considering the state of the roads.

“Notwithstanding our financial constraints, we are constantly seeking external financial assistance. It has, however, been a challenge to secure funding that will enable us to focus more on applying preventative measures which would be more effective than patching and would increase enormously the lifespan of our roads and thereby reducing the frequency and cost of future maintenance.”

Matsie added that the inadequate size of several intersections, such as Du Toitspan Road (at Burger King) and many other intersections in the CBD, posed a challenge as abnormal vehicles and heavy trucks were unable to smoothly negotiate the turns, resulting in the rear wheels skidding on the road surface and damaging the surface.

“This is something that the municipality intends addressing by increasing the turning radius of our intersections, and upgrading specific routes dedicated to heavy vehicles.”

He explained further that the budget allocated to roads was not earmarked for any particular area, suburb or township. “All wards and all residential areas are given the same attention, depending on their need at the time of evaluation. The draft budget for maintenance does not specify the areas where the money will be spent.”