People-power plugs potholes

2019-12-19 16:39
ABOVE and BELOW: Workers from Singh’s contractors repair a deep trench along Pentrich Road. The private contractor was hired by the Eden Gardens Private Hospital board after numerous failed attempts to get the municipality to fix the road. PHOTOS: moeketsi mamane

ABOVE and BELOW: Workers from Singh’s contractors repair a deep trench along Pentrich Road. The private contractor was hired by the Eden Gardens Private Hospital board after numerous failed attempts to get the municipality to fix the road. PHOTOS: moeketsi mamane

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Fed-up residents who are tired of waiting for the municipality to fix pitted roads are hiring private contractors and footing the bill themselves.

After about 40 phone calls to the Msunduzi Municipality in the last three months to report a deep trench along Pentrich Road, Eden Gardens Private Hospital board members this week elected to hire a private contractor to repair the road.

“It’s unfair for a lot of our doctors, patients and the local community to be prejudiced and put in that position for such a long period of time,” said Eden Gardens Private Hospital board member and Pietermaritzburg attorney, Rikesh Sewgoolam.

Sewgoolam said numerous calls to the municipality had fallen on deaf ears.

“We have been calling the municipality for months now; unfortunately they are not doing anything.

“In an emergency, it is very difficult to get onto that road because of the traffic, especially in the mornings and afternoons.

“The trench causes problems for the doctors, emergency services and patients to get to the hospital. It is a huge issue,” he said.

Sewgoolam said the hospital hired a private contractor to fix a water leak on the road before repairing the ditch.

“In the last three months, my office has called the municipality two to three times a week without fail.

“Now and then you get a response with a reference number, but it doesn’t go beyond that,” he said.

Meanwhile, residents of Joseph Chamberlain Road in Mount Michael have also pledged an amount per household to help fix their road.

The residents said that while a private contractor has agreed to help them fix the road free of charge, they will supply the crusher, cement and bitumen.

Resident Deon van der Merwe told The Witness that for the past eight years, they have been asking the municipality to repair the road, without success.

Last month, the residents decided to band together and donated R1 000 each to buy materials.

“I have actually been maintaining this road for the past eight years trying to keep it in a respectable condition but with the heavy rains it deteriorates.

“It has reached a point where I can’t do it myself because it’s going to cost too much,” said Van der Merwe.

He said numerous efforts to get the municipality to fix the road had fallen on deaf ears.

“Residents have been sending e-mails and we have only had one reply.”

“Everyone decided to pitch in money, and we got a contractor who is not going to charge us anything, we must just pay for the material. It is still going to cost us about R20 000.”

Van der Merwe said he had spent about R27 000 out of his own pocket to maintain the road.

“Safety is our biggest concern, and potholes can cause serious accidents. Therefore we, as residents, have to act and help remove this safety hazard.”

Van der Merwe said residents complained of tyre, shock absorber and wheel alignment damage as a result of driving on the road.

“It’s criminal to allow a community asset to deteriorate to no value. People with smaller vehicles can hardly drive on that road. We have no services for our rates,” he said.

Msunduzi Municipality spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha told The Witness that most of the municipal roads had exceeded their designed life span.

“More than 80% of the road network has exceeded the design life span hence there are potholes mushrooming all over the city,” Mafumbatha said.

She said while there is a five-year maintenance plan, due to a limited budget the plan cannot be implemented.

“We are currently trying to source funding,” she said.

• nokuthula.khanyile@media24.com

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg
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