PMB’s pothole problem

2019-09-17 15:00
Pietermaritzburg resident Lindokuhle Zwane and motorcyclist Gerald Gouws inspecting a deep ‘trench-like’ pothole along Willowton Road on Monday.

Pietermaritzburg resident Lindokuhle Zwane and motorcyclist Gerald Gouws inspecting a deep ‘trench-like’ pothole along Willowton Road on Monday. (MOEKETSI MAMANE)

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It's an epidemic.

That is how Pro-Phalt, the contractor appointed to fix the city’s pothole problem, has described the scale of the dire road infrastructure.

Since February, the contractor, which was appointed by Msunduzi, said it has filled about 15 000 potholes.

“That’s not even the tip of the iceberg. There are still thousands of potholes … the potholes are an epidemic in Pietermaritzburg,” Gerard Lowe, site manager of Pro-Phalt said.

“After every major rain, new ones open up and it’s just an ongoing problem,” he said.

The Witness was inundated by more than 80 comments from local residents complaining about the state of the roads in Msunduzi — the majority pulling no punches about the potholes that abound, with one resident saying that most roads were beyond repair.

Worst affected areas include Prestbury, Hayfields, Athlone, Chase Valley, Scottsville, Greater Edendale, Willowton Road, Mountview, Belfort and Raisethorpe.

“One of our vehicles does not even leave the Edendale area. It stays permanently in that area. The other vehicle does the CBD and outlying areas like Prestbury and the northern suburbs. We try and do a little bit where we can,” Lowe said.

Lowe said while they were continuing with the daunting task of fixing potholes in the city, their operations had been halted for September while they were waiting for Msunduzi to give them a new purchase order number.

“We cannot do any work until we get a purchase order number to go ahead and continue with fixing potholes. It’s difficult to do things in good faith when legally you are not covered, and the invoice won’t get paid.”

“Once the municipality issues us with that order number, we’ll carry on with the work. The municipality gave us an order number last month, but it is now finished. We are getting order numbers of between 1 000 and 1 100 square metres per month.”

“With the change in administration, there is more red tape, which delays the process,” he said.

Lowe said while they were the only company contracted to fix the pothole, municipal workers were also doing repairs.

“As we are busy working, the municipal staff are also busy patching. Potholes that we fix, we repair at our own cost and so far, we haven’t had any failures.”

Ntobeko Ngcobo, Msunduzi acting spokesperson, said workers from the road unit are also doing repairs. “The teams are also attending to the reinstatement project to close the trenches on the roads. Potholes are repaired as they occur and when residents report them to the municipality. The residents are requested to please report potholes in their areas, before the heavy rains come, so that we can ensure that the roads are able to cope when it rains,” said Ngcobo.

Pietermaritzburg residents took to The Witness Facebook page to post their complaints about the state of the roads within the city.

Facebook user Ronald Hulley said: “Most of the roads are beyond repair. They will have to be dug up and redone from the base up. A lot of the roads could have been given an extension on their working lives if they had been covered with a slurry seal. A lot of the patching is a total waste of time and money. The road is beyond repair with a patch. Look at Murray Road behind the airport.”

Lindy Fourie Meyer posted: “Morcom Road is a nightmare. There are so many potholes which causes cars to come down on the wrong side. It’s an accident waiting to happen.”

Rooplal Maharaj reiterated that all roads in Pietermaritzburg need attention.

Julian Naicker posted that in January, he had a “huge” insurance claim due to a big pothole that could not be avoided.

“Orthman Road and Willowton Road have huge potholes that can seriously damage a vehicle and cause a serious accident. Wiganthorpe and Fitzmons roads have had a whole chunk of tar missing for years now, that section is a gravel road,” said Naicker, who listed other pothole riddled roads.

Karen Rushton posted: “Potholes that were fixed have made their appearance again and some places worse. Golf Road and intersection of Golf /Hutchison Rd on the doorstep of the varsity and schools.

Chase Valley resident Gareth Dovey said he has sent numerous e-mails since April regarding unattended potholes in the area.

“It seems like no one from the municipality is showing interest and it’s embarrassing,” he said. “The pothole just below Chase Valley Road was ripped up to repair a burst water main and has been left to ruin,” said Dovey.

Dovey said he made attempts to reach the municipality telephonically but has reached a dead-end multiple times. “I keep getting transferred and cut off. It’s frustrating”, Dovey added.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  potholes

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