Pothole fixers in overdrive

2019-02-26 14:52
Pro-Phalt workers fix a pothole in Echo Road on Monday morning.

Pro-Phalt workers fix a pothole in Echo Road on Monday morning. (Ian Carbutt)

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It's a mammoth task. 

Since February 11 the contractor appointed to solve the city’s pothole problem has filled 1 520 potholes in Msunduzi but thousands more await.

The Witness was inundated by more than 90 comments on Monday from local residents complaining about the state of the roads in Msunduzi, Howick and Hilton — the majority pulling no punches about the potholes that abound, with one resident likening them to “sinkholes” rather than potholes.

But Gerard Lowe, site manager, and Hayden Blessie, project manager of Pro-Phalt, the company recently appointed by the City to tackle the problem, remain upbeat about their daunting task and believe they are equal to the challenge.

They told The Witness that they have fixed 1 520 potholes in Msunduzi since February 11, and depending on factors like traffic and weather, are currently busy repairing 35 to 120 potholes daily.

“We are busy training more workers so we will be at full capacity soon,” added Lowe.

The team said they are told daily by Msunduzi where to work and their aim is to focus first on the “headache potholes” — those the municipality has received the most complaints about.

“We have already started in Scottsville. Leinster Road is 95% completed except for a few small potholes,” said Lowe.

“We are also busy in Prestbury, and Athlone. The CBD is a bit difficult because of traffic but we are looking at working on weekends when there will be less traffic or working a night shift here and there so we do not cause too many disruptions.”

Blessie said that once they were fully up and running the number of potholes fixed per day would increase to between 120 to 150.

“It takes us about 15 minutes to fix a pothole, but we use specialised equipment and methods.

“When we fix potholes, there is a one-year guarantee on the work. If that pothole opens up before the one year is up, we will come and fix the pothole at our own expense,” he said.

Lowe said they were “over the moon” to accept this challenge as he and Blessie are both from Pietermaritzburg.

“We are really happy to be back in our home town. Our friends see us and hoot and wave at us when they see us,” said Blessie.

Lowe said people have been very supportive wherever they work and said members of the community have even come out to offer the workers cooldrinks and cigarettes.

Although it could not be confirmed exactly how many potholes still need fixing across the city, Blessie and Lowe said they are confident they “will get it all done”.

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

Facebook user Careen Seaward posted: “Merrivale has been struggling with potholes for a few years and they are only getting worse. It seems that we are expected to pay taxes and rates but our roads are becoming a danger and unroadworthy. We pay for everything but potholes are getting bigger in our area.”

Ranel van der Walt posted: “Pietermaritzburg should get a medal. City with the most potholes in KwaZulu-Natal. Well done.”

“The lower end of Bombay road, Chota Motala road and [Ohrtmann] road have sink holes. They are no longer potholes,” posted Koraysha Boodhoo.

Alethea Rae Rampersad posted that they have had to fix their vehicle rims three times in three weeks and get three new tyres as well.

Michelle Driemeyer Dally posted: “Craters and more craters on Golf Road. So bad now that you either risk damaging your car or waiting to bypass them via the oncoming lane. Shocking considering there are three schools and the university traffic that this road serves.”

Kimberley Govender posted: “Absolutely terrible in Northdale. Tyres get damaged. Your entire body shakes when travelling on these roads due to potholes and uneven roads.”

uMngeni municipal spokesperson Thando Mgaga said on Monday that the municipality has an audit of potholes within its jurisdiction — from the worst affected roads to the least affected.

“On a regular basis the municipality utilises its internal potholes repair team, which has a target of repairing 500 square metres per month or 2 500 square metres per quarter.

“Moreover, when the budget permits the municipality employs reputable service providers to assist with pothole repairs.”

Msunduzi Municipality had not responded to a media query at the time of going to print.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  potholes

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