Community News

Potholes: To fill or not to fill?

Michele du Plessis

Not all roads lead to Rome. Some roads lead to expensive repair of vehicles, expensive trips to the hospital or mortuary and some roads lead to the diminished tourist numbers in our area. Some roads lead straight to hell with all the swear words uttered because of the condition of our roads.

“We all know that we have a plethora of challenges within our municipality. We can summarise them as follows: Negative Audit opinion, Dilapidating infrastructure particularly roads, Mushrooming of Informal Settlements and Land Invasion…etc. … poor functioning of Administrative Units, poor revenue collection and Eskom Account debt are amongst the biggest problems we are faced with.

These challenges must be confronted with (the) velocity of a bull (sic). Failure to do so would create pitfalls that would be insurmountable where in some instances public representatives would be treated like lepers within the community they ought to serve,” said the Honourable Executive Mayor, Cllr S Mashigo-Sekgobela in her foreword in the Integrated Development Plan 2017-2022.

The neglect and lack of maintenance and upgrading have resulted in some roads becoming virtually beyond rehabilitation. These roads requiring major work and funds to get them to acceptable standards again.

Over the last few days, the state of the Old Lydenburg road was discussed on social media. Suggestions of a toll road, a Spring Day Street Market to raise funds to fix this road and various other comments made the social media rounds. This is just one of the roads that need to be refurbished. Will TCLM fix the roads or must private citizens fix the roads?

“Take note that TCLM does not have a maintenance plan in place, however, an analysis has been conducted that covered the priority roads and streets that requires urgent attention. A maintenance plan which is under development will include a comprehensive analysis of all road networks in the municipality. This assessment includes roads outside the municipal functions and jurisdiction i.e. provincial, national and SANRAL,” the IDP 2017-2022 stated.

What does the law say? Is it legal for private citizens to fill a pothole?

“It is an offense to cause damage to the road surface, so theoretically, members of the public can be prosecuted for taking matters into their own hands,” according to the Justice Project South Africa. “Road-building and maintenance is a job for properly qualified engineers and workers, using specialised equipment and materials. It is inadvisable for any unqualified person to do so since they can end up doing more damage than good.”

In March 2017, a High Court decision set a precedent that would allow private citizens and bodies, such a Rate Payers’ Associations, to perform basic service delivery functions with taxpayers’ money. In the judgement, the Eastern Cape High Court ordered the Provincial Roads Department to reimburse farmers who carried out maintenance themselves. However, this is subject to strict conditions including giving the department 30 days’ notice of the repairs and obtaining at least two independent quotes.

According to the Arrive Alive information, you may claim for damage to your vehicle. “There is a responsibility on the side of the authority to maintain roads and repair potholes. It will, however, also be a matter for the Law of Evidence as well as a matter to establish blame. The question would be whether there was negligence on the part of the roads or municipal authority in not repairing that pothole – thereby removing a clear and present danger to the road user. There are reported cases in our law of significant damages awarded to people injured in accidents caused by these potholes.”

Unfortunately, there is no short term fix for our roads. Government departments will still use the excuses of “budget cuts” and “staff shortages”. Road related tenders will still be awarded according to nepotistic rule resulting in incompetent, shoddy, sub-standard or even non-existing work. Long term solutions need to be found for the state of the roads and that is definitely going to happen overnight.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *