There's an excavator on my stoep...

2012-02-05 22:33

Barberton - "There's a government excavator on my stoep," says Mpumalanga farmer Gerrie Roets.

For more than five months, Roets, who lives in Barberton, has been telling his friends and relatives that the provincial government left a Volvo excavator valued more than R2m just several metres from his front door.

He told African Eye News Service that the 30 ton machine was left by government contractors and officials who were working on the Snymansbult dirt road that connects Barberton and Kaapsehoop.

“The road is worse than when construction work was started late last year. They messed up badly; excavations were left half done. Rocks and gravel fall into the road, making it very dangerous,” Roets said.

The farmer said  he had suffered more than R100 000 in damages to his truck and his business due to the road.

“I’m so frustrated. I just want to sell the farm and buy a farm next to the tarred road,” he said.

He said officials from the provincial department of public works, roads and transport brought the excavator in August 2011.

“I first thought it was funny why government equipment was used by a private contractor to work on the road, but was happy that at least something was being done,” he said.


Road workers worked on the road for a month before an official asked Roets if they could , "meanwhile", park the excavator in his yard.

He said that “meanwhile” turned into months and by December weeds started growing out of the excavator.

Roets said an official wanted to remove the excavator late last year but his wife Anelette prevented him from taking it away.

“She told the official straight: ‘First fix the road before you remove this thing’. She doesn’t take kak,” Roets said proudly.

He said an official visited the area again in December to see if the machine was still in good working order.

When AENS first contacted the department about the excavator on January 26, department of public works, roads and transport spokesperson David Nkambule denied that the excavator was abandoned next to the road.

The next day, government sent a technician and officials to remove the excavator from Roets' farm.

“I was not at home and first saw the excavator on the road driving towards my house. I thought, ‘ Good, they've come to fix the road,' but later saw a truck with a low bed trailer come fetch the excavator,” said Roets.

 “It is disheartening to think the equipment has been there for months, but the road is still is such a poor state.”


Nkambule denies the excavator was ever abandoned.

“According to the information we have the excavator was not abandoned but was left on site as it was broken. It has since been removed and parked at the departmental premises,” he said this week.

Roets denies it was ever broken.

Meanwhile Nkambule admitted that a moratorium has been placed on all road maintenance work in the province as the department has a projected shortfall of over R50m. 

  • Assis - 2012-02-05 23:33

    As within as without... road works working without equipment and civil service working without brains...a sign of the electorate.

  • braamc - 2012-02-06 02:28

    e,e,e, eyes.

  • Comrade - 2012-02-06 06:55

    eeeeeish, ay forgoteet da e'excavator! eeeiah

  • Graeme - 2012-02-06 07:04

    get in it - start it and repair your road, then give it to the farmer next door - or sell it, possession is 9/10 of the law, and fix your trucks

  • Zion - 2012-02-06 07:28

    Even the apartheid government had its problems with displaced equipment. During the 1970's a contingent of Water Affairs workers were building a weir in a riverbed. The job required the grading of the bed to accommodate the concrete foundation and remove rubble in the area. After that aspect of the job was completed the Bulldozer was no longer needed and so was parked under a tree at the Water Affairs camp. The camp was situated on a farm. After the job was completed the camp was packed up and the workers left the sight. Four years later the department receives a call from the farmer asking if he can have the bulldozer seeing that it was on his property for the last 4 years. Nobody believed him until he went to Windhoek and asked the Department for somebody to identify the bulldozer which was done. It was later discovered the 'dozer had been missing on the lists of equipment. The farm was situated in the northern part of South West Africa.

      Zion - 2012-02-06 07:30

      correction: line 6 word 6 Sight to be changed to site.

      Marion - 2012-02-06 07:45

      Well said. No government is perfect and with all the associated red tape and form A1 through to Z99999 that always has to be completed to get the simplest thing done it is no wonder things get lost. Surprised no one has lost the houses of parliament or the union buildings yet.

      Zion - 2012-02-06 08:53

      As a matter of curiosity: I see there are 4 thumbs down for this comment. Yes people have the right to put that thumbs down where they see fit. I accept that and will give a wider explanation re the comment. The incident occurred in the northern section of Namibia. I used South West Africa because at the time Namibia never existed. SWA at the time was part of the SA. apartheid regime. I was working for the Dept. of water Affairs when the farmer Telephoned the headquarters where I worked in Windhoek. At the time it was seen as a huge joke. If you feel you want to thumbs-down that, well, it is ok by me go ahead.

      John - 2012-02-06 12:16

      SWA was NEVER a part of South Africa.

      Zion - 2012-02-06 14:26

      John, SWA was administered as part of SA since the time it was nominated by the UN, as a mandate to SA. Every single aspect of SWA was under the hand of South Africa. You may be right it was never GEOGRAPHICALLY part of SA. SA controlled all the government departments and the police and the military in fact everything. SWA was treated on par with SA as if it was just another province. I grew up and lived and was taught the history of SWA (Namibia). I lived there in excess of 30years. SWA as a mandate under SA simply means it was under SA protection and control.

      Zion - 2012-02-06 14:34

      Oh! for all the Frivolous minds. I can get no peace! even my correction has now been targeted for thumbs down. Today I checked that word 6 on line 6 to be site instead of sight 100 times to see if something was amiss and found nothing. A case of small things amuse small minds and that is why I keep on smiling.

  • Vivian - 2012-02-06 08:59

    Typical dodgy works ongoing again, when will the money stealing stop????

  • ludlowdj - 2012-02-06 09:52

    The ANC strikes again (cue "dark star" music)

  • Frank - 2012-02-06 10:14

    Just another day in sunny africa with a full dose of incompetence and lies, all covered over with the usual quantity of BS

  • Erich - 2012-02-06 13:05

    I think Leon Shuster's 'Zulu on my stoep' is to be blamed for this incident.

  • bmcottier - 2012-02-06 18:03

    No wonder that the government has a shortfall of R50m if they dont look after their equipment and dont even know where it is maybe the farmer could have sold it and paid someone to fix the road, a bit of a joke why would the government give a toss plenty of tax payers money to buy new stuff if you loose the equipment.

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