9 March 2023
MISA, the Motor Industry Staff Association, says Government must find a solution to the pothole pandemic South Africa is faced with before simply reprimanding private companies and ordinary citizens doing repairs at their own cost.
Martlé Keyter, MISA’s Chief Executive Officer: Operations, says Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana’s budget of R142,9 billion to fund efforts to construct, upgrade and maintain the national and provincial road networks over the next 3 years, is adequate to include repairing the estimated 25 million potholes on our roads.
National Treasury specified that the budget is allocated to the Road Transport programme and the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) Road Oversight subprograms.
“Both programmes has specified targets including the Department’s strengthening and upgrade of the national non-toll network, the N2 Wild Coast project, the long awaited R573 Moloto Road development corridor and the Gauteng freeway improvement project.
“Sanral must also serve large debt redemptions due to its inability to generate enough toll revenue. No specific reference is made to the Department of Transport’s national campaign to fix potholes, Operation Vala Zonke, that was launched five months ago,” says Keyter.
Wayne Minnaar of the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) warned yesterday that it is illegal for citizens to repair potholes themselves. This, after officers of the JMPD threatened a Good Samaritan in the city with prosecution if they continued to fix potholes.
In the meantime communities all over South Africa started to fix their own potholes after the damage caused by the recent rains and floods.
Keyter says the Knysna Municipality has guidelines on its website explaining to residents how to go about fixing potholes. In Mamelodi East in Pretoria Vusi Manganyi puts bread on the table by filling potholes in Tsamaya Avenue in exchange for donations.
“MISA appeals to Government, Provinces and Municipalities to cooperate with initiatives from the private sector and citizens to ensure that potholes are fixed correctly. In Vanderbijlpark a steel company is already fixing potholes and lights worth R2.2 million in support of the Emfuleni Local Municipality (ELM).
“The opposite is happening in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal where a group of youngsters at Theku Plaza, Osizweni, are filling potholes with rubble to allow for a smoother drive and asking residents for donations. Councillor Imran Keeka, a member of the KZN Legislature, warned that residents were required to follow a series of steps before taking charge because there are legal implications if something happens and if the work is not up to standard.
“All these arguments will remain irrelevant to motorist who has to pay up every time they hit a pothole,” says Keyter.
Sanral disputes the estimated 25 million potholes on our roads. Although Sanral says this figure is “improbable” and “unlikely”, it is unable to provide South African motorists with a more accurate figure for our 168 000 kilometres of paved road network.
To date the Department of Transport could also not provide an accurate pothole figure despite the Operation Vala Zonke project. This project is a joint effort to fix potholes by the nine provinces and all 278 municipalities, comprising eight metropolitan, 44 district and 226 local municipalities.
According to insurer Dialdirect’s statistics for 2022, there was a 15% increase in pothole-related accident claims, compared to 2021 and a nine-percent increase in tyre-damage claims as a direct result of potholes. In 76% of these claims, the pothole damage was so severe it rendered the car undriveable.
“According to the budget, the future of transport is in the public transport network rapid bus services, that have already been implemented in ten cities, Cape Town, Ekurhuleni, George, Johannesburg, Nelson Mandela Bay and Tshwane. It also aims at continuing to revitalise the deteriorated passenger rail services.
“This can never be a sustainable solution for all South Africans. Our transport system is not nearly as advanced, our crime levels will remain a deterrent for potential users, if not addressed, and our current systems are not reliable enough due to numerous factors. MISA appreciates the work in progress, but fix the potholes first,” says Keyter.
Issued on behalf of MISA by Sonja Carstens, Media, Liaison and Communication Specialist.
For MISA Press Releases, phone Carstens on 082 463 6806 or email Sonja.Carstens@ms.org.za
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Caption: A Pothole near MISA’s Head Office in Northcliff, Johannesburg. Photo: MISA