‘It’s a life and death situation’

2020-01-22 06:02
Willowfontein community members protest over the state of a road, which is in such bad condition that motorists can’t utilise it.PHOTO: lethiwe makhanya

Willowfontein community members protest over the state of a road, which is in such bad condition that motorists can’t utilise it.PHOTO: lethiwe makhanya

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WILLOWFONTEIN community members in the Bhakabha area threatened to go on strike if leadership does not attend to issues relating to a road construction that they have been waiting for since 2012.

They say the situation is dire — ‘a matter of life and death’ — as last November two people died in a house fire when firefighters could not enter the area due to the road’s dilapidated condition.

Prior to that a woman died in her home as the ambulance could not enter the area. Paramedics had to walk to the woman’s home, however she died before they could reach her home.

Community members have even had the experience of carrying dead bodies, in full view of others, to a mortuary van. They say this has happened on more than one occasion as the men from the community have no choice but to assist bereaved families as no vehicle can access Bhakabha past Willowfontein Road.

Vehicle owners who live in the area have to park their cars on other properties and walk to their homes.

On Monday, residents marched to the ward councillor’s office where they submitted a memorandum that raised issues relating to the state of the road.

They also told Echo that they were promised that the road would be attended to in 2012, however no work has been done on the road.

Shibase Zungu, who led the march, said residents decided to protest as answers were not forthcoming on why the road had not been fixed for the past eight years. “As a community, we feel we are being treated unfairly because other areas in Willowfontein have proper roads but we have nothing.

“ We want the ward councillor to call the people involved, including the Department of Transport, so that they can give us answers. After that we demand [they give us ] a start date for the construction because we are tired of waiting. “If they fail to [give us what we have asked for then] we will be forced to go on strike and it wont be nice,” he said.

Another resident, Thandeka Makhathini, said: “Since we started voting in 1994 nothing has been done for us in terms of service delivery.”

Resident Mbongiseni Dlomo said: “Not so long ago two people burnt to death inside a house because firefighters could not get through to help because of the state of the road.

“What must happen before they can see that this road construction is a matter of emergency?”

Ward councillor Thabiso Molefe confirmed that construction on the road had not taken place and said most of the community’s demands related promises made to them by province and municipality.

“A meeting will take place on Sunday and I will ask leadership from province and the municipality to be present so that they can respond to these issues.”

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