Newcastle petitions Free State ‘on worst road in the country’

2013-06-20 00:00

IT’S the worst road in the country. Driving there is terrible. No one should travel on that road at night.

This is what Newcastle Mayor Afzul Rehman and other town residents have to say about the condition of the R34 between Memel and Vrede, which is considered to be a corridor for tourism in the Free State. Rehman will lead a group of Newcastle businessmen to Bloemfontein, where they will petition Free State Premier Ace Magashule to have the road fixed.

One of the businessmen, Johan Pieters, told The Witness that a copy of the petition will be sent to KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize.

“It’s very bad driving on this road. It’s a death road,” Pieters said, adding that the struggle to have the road repaired had been going on for eight years.

“Two years ago we tried to have the road closed down due to the danger it posed, but we were threatened with arrest,” he said.

This time around he hoped they would succeed in getting the road fixed, especially with the backing of Rehman. “It is the corridor to tourism in Newcastle and we need to fix this road.”

Another businessman, Danie Scholtz, said there were also a lot of cattle on the road, forcing cars to drive into oncoming traffic. “In KZN, the road is in good condition, but about a few metres after crossing the Free State/KZN border, you hit this big pothole and you see a sign that says ‘You’re now in the Free State’,” he said.

Scholtz uses the road often to deliver vases to Memel, and said his business was running at a loss due to the amount of stock breaking on the road despite putting the vases in bubble wrap.

Scholtz said the road was very dangerous and he was aware of accidents that resulted in four deaths.

He also warned people against driving small cars or travelling on the road at night, when visibility was poor.

Mayor Rehman said he supported the initiative to get the road fixed.

“The KZN portion of the road is in tip-top condition and we have to applaud the KZN Department of Transport for that,” Rehman told The Witness.

On the road in the Free State, he said: “One portion of the road does not have tar, while another is full of potholes.

“The road is terrible. It’s the worst road in the country,” the mayor said.

Last week, a woman in her 20s died after her husband lost control of their car after allegedly hitting a pothole on the road.

The husband was taken to hospital in a critical condition.

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