No funds to reseal road, court told

2010-01-29 00:00

MAINTENANCE work and pothole repairs were done on the road on which Hluphile Elda Zuma (53) was injured in an accident in 2004. However, the road had exceeded its life span and needed complete resealing, for which there were insufficient funds available, according to evidence presented in the Pietermaritzburg High Court yesterday.

Zuma, represented by Afzal Akoo & Partners, is suing the province for negligence for allegedly failing to maintain the road in a safe condition for road users. She lost her hand and part of her arm when the minibus she was in swerved to avoid an oncoming vehicle and hit a pothole, described as being 9 m long by 2,5 m wide.

The pothole was situated on the road between Keates Drift and Tugela Ferry.

Chief industrial technician for KwaZulu-Natal’s Transport Department, Bongani Ndaba, who was in charge of the road network in the area at the time, said the department had awarded private contractor Zamani Isizwe Esisha Building Construction a R145 000 contract to carry out “black-top” (pothole) repairs on the road in question, and they did carry out work on the road.

The tender for the contract was published in August 2004, he said. He quoted from numerous documents, detailing dates on which work was carried out, as well as the type and quantity of materials supplied and payments made to the contractors from October to December 2004.

Ndaba said he often travelled on the road in question and had, on occasion, inspected work that had been done. He was assisted in the task by a foreman who was appointed by the department to supervise the contractor.

Ndaba told the court that there were occasions when the “pre-mix” or asphalt (tar) used to effect repairs was not available, as it had not been manufactured by the suppliers.

During such periods — usually not more than two to three weeks — they would use quarry or stone to patch up potholes, especially bad ones, and then seal them once the asphalt became available.

In response to a suggestion by advocate Griffiths Madonsela (who represents the department) that one would have then expected there to be no potholes on the road at all, Ndaba responded that in a case where a road has reached the end of its life span and needs resealing, as was the case here, repairing potholes will not solve the problem.

“If not resealed, the road develops cracks and that results in potholes,” he said.

“The allocation we get from head office is not sufficient to reseal the roads,” said Ndaba.

Referring to the budget for the 2004/2005 financial year he said R1,5 million for black- top patching was allocated and R1,9 million was spent.

The case is proceeding.



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