Cars navigate their way through potholes in Emms Drive in Philippi. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)
Cars navigate their way through potholes in Emms Drive in Philippi. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

Pothole problem in Cape Town townships getting bigger

By Mthuthuzeli Ntseku Time of article published Jul 23, 2021

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Cape Town - The City’s collapsed Transport Authority Management System, which underpinned the pothole repair service, has resulted in a 40-fold increase of the 900 threshold maintenance number set four years ago, according to the Good Party.

Party secretary Brett Herron said data from a report prepared by the City’s transport department showed that the City’s road network was in critical condition and at risk of “further deterioration”.

Herron said the report showed that before the last few weeks of heavy rainfall there was already a backlog of 35 000 potholes in need of repair across the city. He said following recent rains, the situation would be exacerbated.

“When you fall very far behind with the maintenance of critical infrastructure it can be very difficult to catch up again, as we’ve experienced with Eskom. Potholes and deteriorating road conditions create a serious danger for all road users, and a backlog of 35 000 potholes creates a massive financial and economic risk to the City of Cape Town and its residents,” said Herron.

He said the majority of potholed and poorly maintained roads were in poor communities.

Khayelitsha ward councillor Xolisa Ngwekazi said reported potholes in the area date back to 2019.

“Our challenge is that on top of the non-functioning street lights, these potholes are contributing negatively to the overall functioning of our community. Emergency medical services, taxis and even police vans are not able to access some parts of the area and every time we report this, the City tells us about budget constraints. The backlog had been there before the pandemic and they can’t use that as an excuse,” said Ngwekazi.

Nyanga policing forum chairperson Martin Makhasi, who raised concerns about the deteriorating condition of municipal roads in the area of Nyanga, Phillipi and Crossroads, said it had exacerbated car hijackings and smash-and-grabs incidents in the area.

Makhasi said there were incidents where residents partly contributed to this condition but said it was mostly caused by flooding and the unattended overflowing sewage draining system.

Mayor Dan Plato said it was often not possible to perform permanent repairs during winter months due to the ongoing rains and wet ground. He said temporary repairs were done wherever possible, with those repairs earmarked for more permanent repairs in the dry summer months.

“The city’s efforts to maintain road infrastructure has been further impacted by the hard lockdown of 2020 which prevented our transport staff from performing their duties. The national lockdown caused a severe backlog in repairs, but the City made huge strides when our road maintenance staff were allowed to return to work,” he said.

Plato said he launched a pothole repair campaign when the lockdown was lifted in 2020 and since June 1 last year more than 25 000 potholes were repaired.

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Cape Argus

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