Residents demand answers on long-overdue road project

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Protesters from Mbutshane in Sweetwaters area blocked roads on Thursday to express their anger that a road construction project is unfinished after two years.
Protesters from Mbutshane in Sweetwaters area blocked roads on Thursday to express their anger that a road construction project is unfinished after two years.

Residents of Mbutshane, Sweetwaters, blockaded roads with burning tyres, broken bottles and trees on Thursday, demanding answers about what happened to funding that was allocated to fix road D2069 in the area.

An amount of R12 million was allocated to upgrade this gravel road to tar, but the project is still unfinished two years after it started. Work started on the road in February 2019 and was supposed to take only 10 months to complete.

Thursday’s protest is believed to have been triggered by news that there is nothing left over of the R12 million to finish the project.

Residents say their ward councillor, Sbusiso Mtshali, told them last week there is no money to finish the road, but he has disputed this and said there is a misunderstanding.

One resident who did not want to be named, told The Witness“All they had to do was to change the gravel road into a tar road, that was all. We were told that the project will only take 10 months but we are in 2021 now and still the road is not finished and no one is telling us anything. We are tired now, as the state of that road is terrible. Money was allocated for it to be fixed but that has not happened. Even taxis now hesitate to transport us because they complain that this road is damaging their cars. We want answers.

“There was a misunderstanding or miscommunication, I never said that there is no money. There is money available but the problem is with the contractor that is having some challenges and we are trying to engage with them.”
Ward councillor Sbusiso Mtshali

“We want to know when is this road going to be fixed and what it is that is making it to take so long.”

The residents vowed that they will not stop protesting until they get the answers that they are looking for.

Ward councillor Mtshali denied that he told the community that there are no funds available to finish the road construction.

“There was a misunderstanding or miscommunication, I never said that there is no money. There is money available but the problem is with the contractor that is having some challenges and we are trying to engage with them. We are going to meet with the community to discuss a way forward regarding this matter and clarify things,” he said.

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