Ci­ti­zens tackle potholes

Grocott's Mail - - NEWS - By KATHRYN CLEARY

As Makana Mu­nic­i­pal­ity an­nounced this week it had just re­ceived R3.5mil­lion to re­ha­bil­i­tate roads, a group of ci­ti­zens tired of wait­ing had al­ready taken mat­ters into their own hands.

“Why must your car be road­wor­thy when the roads aren’t car wor­thy?” posed a res­i­dent on so­cial me­dia in early Jan­uary. Gra­ham­stown’s mu­nic­i­pal, pro­vin­cial and na­tional roads are no­to­ri­ous among res­i­dents and vis­i­tors. Though roads rid­den with potholes large enough to bathe in are the most note­wor­thy, many of the gravel roads lead­ing to out­ly­ing ru­ral ar­eas are also in des­per­ate need of at­ten­tion. In re­cent months, im­prove­ments have in­cluded fill­ing potholes and sink­holes with sand and gravel, a tem­po­rary fix.

Long term res­i­dent Martin Rush­ton stated, “As ur­gent as the need is for rain in Cape Town, so is the need for ma­jor re­pairs to our roads.” This week’s rain­fall has wors­ened road con­di­tions and they are con­sis­tently grow­ing worse. The rain­wa­ter grad­u­ally washes away the sand and gravel used to fix blem­ishes in the roads, while runoff seeps deeper into small cracks, caus­ing dan­ger­ous ero­sion.

On­go­ing dam­age to roads is only one piece of the prob­lem. Sub­se­quent dam­age to mo­tor ve­hi­cles and scoot­ers is a huge ex­pense and in­con­ve­nience. Res­i­dents com­plained of tyre, shock ab­sorber and wheel align­ment dam­age as a re­sult of driv­ing on the roads. Charles Pre­to­rius said he’d had two ac­ci­dents as a re­sult of potholes, cost­ing him R75 000.

Ed­ward Gaybba said, “My shocks are only four months old but are fin­ished and need to be re­placed. Also need to re­place my Con­trol Arm Bushes and an Idler Arm (which were all re­placed just over a year ago). My fam­ily has to use car­a­vans and a tent as we sim­ply can­not save to­wards build­ing ma­te­rial for our lit­tle home. Thanks Makana - ap­par­ently you think a small home, elec­tric­ity, and run­ning wa­ter is not some­thing my fam­ily is en­ti­tled to.”

Glenn Koch from Wes­son’s on High Street said that on av­er­age wheel align­ment can cost R200-R600, and shock ab­sorbers are R300-R5 000 each. Usu­ally an an­nual ex­pense, th­ese have be­come quar­terly ex­penses for Gra­ham­stown res­i­dents. “Wheel align­ment is im­me­di­ately out when you hit a pot­hole, guar­an­teed, very few cars are in align­ment af­ter about two weeks of driv­ing in town,” said Koch.

Res­i­dent Kath Barnard drives a scooter. “I can’t think of a sin­gle road in Gra­ham­stown where scooter rid­ers are safe from potholes, pot­hole gravel, or crum­bling tar­mac,” she said. Scoot­ers are pop­u­lar among stu­dents.

With the mu­nic­i­pal­ity fail­ing to meet ser­vice de­liv­ery needs, Makana Re­vive is look- ing for al­ter­na­tive so­lu­tions. “There’s no ex­cuse why it should have got­ten to this level,” the com­mu­nity ini­tia­tive's Ron Weis­senberg told Gro­cott’s Mail. Weis­senberg said in the past six months, roads that were pre­vi­ously re­pairable have dis­in­te­grated to the stage where they now need to­tal re­con­struc­tion and resur­fac­ing.

Re­con­struc­tion of one kilo­me­tre of a two-lane road can cost up­wards of R3.5 mil­lion, Weis­senberg said. Resur­fac­ing and grad­ing of gravel is sig­nif­i­cantly cheaper.

If ev­ery res­i­dent con­trib­uted R150, Makana Re­vive could fully re­pair sal­vage­able mu­nic­i­pal roads, Weis­senberg said. “Pro­fes­sion­ally and with cor­rect guar­an­tees.” He said R50 000 would al­low for nearly 800 potholes to be prop­erly re­paired by use of a jet patcher. This would come to just un­der R2 per ci­ti­zen, less than the cost of car and scooter re­pairs.

“It’s crim­i­nal to al­low a com­mu­nity as­set to de­te­ri­o­rate to no value,” said Weis­senberg.

Yes­ter­day morn­ing Makana Re­vive fi­nally took mat­ters into their own hands. With spon­sor­ship from the com­mu­nity, the jet patcher made its way down Al­bert Street in Fingo Vil­lage, work­ing to clear potholes of re­main­ing de­bris and then ef­fi­ciently fill­ing them with a wet gravel mix­ture sourced lo­cally from Ama­tola quarry. Weis­senberg over­saw the patch­ing process along with Makana Re­vive sup­port­ers Tim Bull of the Gra­ham­stown Res­i­dents' Asso- cia­tion, Richard Gaybba of the Gra­ham­stown Busi­ness Fo­rum, and Myn­hardt van Dyk, owner of The Rat and Par­rot.

Bull said Al­bert Street was a pri­or­ity for re­pairs as a main taxi route be­tween the town­ship and the CBD. Taxi driv­ers hooted in ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the work be­ing done, and vol­un­teer traf­fic of­fi­cers made sure pass­ing cars did not drive over the freshly re­paired road. To­day (2 Fe­bru­ary) the patcher will move to the CBD, start­ing on African Street.

Gro­cott’s Mail ap­proached Makana Mu­nic­i­pal­ity for com­ment:

“Makana Mu­nic­i­pal­ity has just re­ceived R3.5 mil­lion for roads re­sus­ci­ta­tion from the eq­ui­table share. This money will be used for re-seal­ing and slurry seal for the main and ac­cess roads around Gra­ham­stown. Sup­ply Chain Man­age­ment pro­cesses have al­ready been done and re­quests for quo­ta­tions have been ad­ver­tised for this process. With the as­sis­tance from Mam­lambo Con­struc­tion with their equip­ment, the mu­nic­i­pal­ity will be able to do chip and spray be­fore the Na­tional Arts Fes­ti­val and most of the roads will be re­vamped dur­ing that pe­riod as SANRAL has agreed on re­vamp­ing all the roads be­long­ing to Depart­ment of Roads...

“The Roads and Stormwa­ter team are cur­rently do­ing pot­hole patch­ing and chip and spray on the ma­jor roads dam­aged by heavy rains. The St An­drew's Col­lege Mainte- nance team have ap­proached Makana Roads and Stormwa­ter sec­tion and agreed to test the jet patcher ma­chine in three main streets of Gra­ham­stown. This is cur­rently hap­pen­ing as some of th­ese streets are be­ing re­paired. African, Mil­ner Street and Park Road are among the streets that will be re­paired us­ing the jet patcher. Makana Brick also as­sisted with cold­mix to do pot­hole patch­ing in sev­eral streets around town.”

Should the com­mu­nity wish to con­trib­ute to road re­pairs please email jolandi

for more in­for­ma­tion.

Photo: Kathryn Cleary

The jet-patcher at work on Al­bert Street.

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