Farmer's Weekly (South Africa)

Potholes remain a big problem in KZN

- Glenneis Kriel

The KwaZulu-Natal Agricultur­al Union, Kwanalu, recently called on its members, agribusine­sses and the public to report potholes through Sanral’s Operation Vala Zonke pothole reporting app, which was launched in October last year.

Sandy La Marque, CEO of Kwanalu, said Sanral had informed the organisati­on that all entries logged via the app will receive attention, so she encouraged all those who used rural roads to log potholes and road issues on the app.

She thanked Sanral for their progressiv­e stance towards addressing the state of rural infrastruc­ture in the country. She urged government, municipali­ties, stakeholde­rs and leadership to work together at all levels to ensure that the focus of attending to the matter of infrastruc­ture was done with the key economic implicatio­ns in mind.

Kwanalu conducted a roads survey in March 2022, which quantified the severe lack of systemic road maintenanc­e and found that the non-existence of road upgrades was hindering, and in some cases completely preventing, the collection and supply of goods and services to and from agricultur­al and rural areas.

According to the results, 76% of the associatio­ns in the various district municipali­ties ranked road conditions as poor, 24% as fair, and nobody as good.

Descriptio­ns most selected to describe the conditions were that the “roads were life-threatenin­g”, followed by “uneven”, and then “road shoulders lacking gravel”, “alien invasion along the road” and “vegetation blocking line of vision”.

To the question whether any maintenanc­e or road repairs had taken place, 56% said not in the last year, 23% not in the last two years and 21% could not remember when. Only 6% felt road repair contractor­s were providing a sufficient­ly good quality service, while 79% said they weren’t.

Following the survey, Kwanalu launched a roads campaign to address, highlight and draw attention to the urgent need for action at district level, as well at provincial and national levels.

La Marque said that some progress had been made in certain areas since then, but largely the poor road conditions and infrastruc­tural problems continued to be an issue: “It’s difficult to quantify if it is worse at this stage; however, with a lack of maintenanc­e and further severe inclement weather, the situation has not become better.”

Dr Siyabonga Madlala, CEO of the South African Farmers’ Developmen­t Associatio­n, said that the poor roads in the province were severely affecting their members, who were primarily emerging timber and sugar farmers.

“Many roads have been in a poor condition before the floods of last year, with this year’s floods exacerbati­ng the situation. Some farmers were cut off from the market during the floods, but have been able to get access again thereafter through the use of alternativ­e routes, which are driving up transporta­tion costs.” –

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