BUDGET FOR FIXING POTHOLES MAY GO TO RACE ROUTE:
ROUTE PRIORITY: Slice of budget for fixing potholes, cracks may now go to race route, write Ntombesizwe Botha and Sibulele Mboyi
KOHLER Road in Swartkops, Port Elizabeth, is cracked and riddled with potholes. About R1.6-million was budgeted by the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality to fix it in the 2016/17 financial year.
But half of its budget will likely be diverted to help fix roads earmarked for the Ironman World Championship route which the city plans to host next year.
The 40km Ironman route stretches from Marine Drive up to Sardinia Bay Road and then on to Seaview Road.
Kohler Road is one of at least 46 roads throughout the city expected to forfeit a portion of their budget to collectively contribute R13-million to the R200-million needed to resurface the Ironman route.
The decision to divert the money must still be approved by council.
Weekend Post visited half of the 46 roads from where budgets could be cut.
Many of the roads visited are in a treacherous state, with pits, cracks, bumps, lumps and potholes.
Kohler Road resident Onke Mjuleni, 25, said it made no sense to deduct the money that was already earmarked and urgently needed.
“I definitely do not see this as a feasible option. In the long run, I am sure it’ll have consequences of some sort.
“I have no doubt in my mind that this is an important event as Port Elizabeth needs a bit of recognition, but to deduct it from places that also need the money?
“I don’t know, I’m not too sure I agree with that,” he said.
Some of the roads, like Baird Street in Uitenhage, will forfeit as much as R1-million this financial year.
Baird Street is filled with potholes in the middle of the road and some residents are not happy about the proposal to delay work on the road.
Baird Street resident Zizo Mbonyana, 28, said he did not understand why the money had to be taken for just one event.
“It is for one weekend. The municipality really does not prioritise properly. Hopefully, this doesn’t come back to backfire,” he said.
Other streets to suffer an impact should this be approved will include:
• Ngedle Road, Motherwell, losing R100 000, with R1 131 875 remaining;
• Gazania Road, Sunridge Park, losing R75 000, with R154 500 remaining;
• Penford Avenue, Uitenhage, losing its entire R524 250 budget;
• Lockheed Street, Walmer, losing its entire R198 000 budget; and
• Four sections of Crammer Street, Malabar, losing R518 500 collectively, with R978 800 remaining.
While some residents understood the potential benefit of hosting the event, they were unhappy about the proposal to redirect funds.
Crammer Street resident Phumelela Mbujana, 24, said: “They must actually put it to good use. I have lived in Malabar for four years now and in the time I have lived here I’ve never seen any serious roadworks being done.”
Joshua McLenon, 30, of Gazania Road, Sunridge Park, said it was a small price to pay to host the event.
“Ironman is a world-class event and I think that the municipality is doing the right thing. Ironman is an event that brings in local and international participants,” he said.
The Ironman 70.3 World Champ- ionships – the first of its kind to be held in Africa – is expected to draw 15 000 people, which is 5 000 more than the annual Ironman African Championship.
Budget and treasury political head Retief Odendaal said this was not a matter of taking money away from the wards but rather a reshuffling of the funds.
This money would be returned later in the 2018/19 budget, he said.
Odendaal said if they could not find the funds required for the road resurfacing, the municipality would be approaching different corporate entities for assistance.
“It is my understanding that the postponement of the resurfacing and refurbishing of the roads in certain wards will be in areas that are not in urgent need of this upgrade,” he said.
The metro’s political head of economic development, tourism and agriculture, Andrew Whitfield, said: “About 15 000 people are going to be descending on Nelson Mandela Bay for about 10 days.”
He said this meant that every single hotel would be filled.
“Ironman is the anchor event on our events calendar and helps boost the economy. Every single community in Nelson Mandela Bay benefits directly or indirectly from the tourism industry.”
He said the municipality was working with Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism to promote township tours.
“This will ultimately promote the informal trading economy by connecting tourists to the arts and craft traders who exist all around the metro.
“We’re putting together packages for tourist to explore each and every corner of the metro, so that we’re able to ensure that we integrate the benefits that the Ironman has into the community.”
Mandela Bay Development Agency spokesman Luvuyo Bangazi said reallocation of funds should not be seen as taking money away but rather showcasing Nelson Mandela Bay as a world-class city.
HONOUR AT A PRICE: Fixing Port Elizabeth’s Ironman route might see some residents putting up with potholes in their streets a little longer
GAZANIA ROAD – SUNRIDGE PARK Money deducted – R75 000 Balance remaining – R154 500 Condition of the road: This road is rough with more than one pothole
KOHLER ROAD – SWARTKOPS Money deducted – R812 500 Balance remaining – R800 000 Condition of the road: Big potholes with crocodile cracks on the sides and centre of the road. Uneven surface and no pavements
PENFORD AVENUE – UITENHAGE Money deducted – Everything (R524 250) Balance remaining – Nothing Condition of the road: Residents say municipality has to thoroughly think through deducting money
CRAMMER STREET – MALABAR Money deducted in total – R518 500 Balance remaining – R978 800 Condition of the road: There are cracks, potholes and bumps on the road and the surface is uneven
NGEDLE ROAD – MOTHERWELL Money deducted – R100 000 Balance remaining – R1 131 875 Condition of the road: Riddled with potholes and cracks