- Free State farmers and taxi drivers have blocked a road in Ficksburg during an early morning protest.
- Protesters are demanding that the provincial government take action by fixing deteriorating roads.
- The farmers' association has called the R26 "life threatening", saying it is becoming impossible to farm in the area.
Ficksburg farmers and taxi drivers – an unusual pairing – have blocked the R26 road to protest the deteriorating road conditions in the area.
The local farmers' association and taxi organisations parked tractors and taxis on the road, saying a lack of maintenance has made travelling on roads in the area "life threatening". They are now demanding that the provincial government fix the roads before harvest season.
Ficksburg farmer Theunis Pretorius said the community was witnessing the "total collapse of essential infrastructure". He added that the roads were barely passable in vehicles and posed a danger to the upcoming corn harvest.
"It's not just the rain that has damaged the road, they are just not maintained. The roads are life threatening," he said.
However, Free State Department of Police, Roads and Transport spokesperson Hillary Mophethe said the provincial government was currently carrying out work on the R26 as part of a pothole eradication programme.
She said the work started around three weeks ago, and contractors would be prioritising the worst areas between Fouriesburg and Ficksburg, as well as between Fouriesburg and Bethlehem.
Police spokesperson Brigadier Motantsi Makhele confirmed that a protest was under way, saying the R26 and R70 were affected.
"No violence nor damages have been reported so far. Police are monitoring the situation," he said.