Farmer's Weekly (South Africa)
Potholes remain a big problem in KZN
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.” –