Durban - The old adage about a farmer making a plan has proved true in those parts of the province where the recent floods washed away or damaged many rural access roads, hampering travel and threatening the movement of goods to market.
The KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union (Kwanalu) said farmers, tired of waiting for local government to act, have taken it upon themselves to repair roads – which they described as being “nearly impassable or near a state of collapse” – for the sake of general food security.
In the Mid-Illovo area, the farmers used their own funds.
“We have used 15 tractors and trailers, five TLBs [tractor-loader-backhoes], brush cutters, chainsaws, quarry and rock loads.
"In addition, each of these needed drivers and operators, and a further eight conductors, eight supervisors and 60 staff members were needed to get the job done,” said Mid-Illovo Farmers’ Association chairperson Brett Chubb.
He added that grateful local taxi drivers were also beneficiaries of their efforts.
Kwanalu said there had been acknowledgement of the state of the D170 road between Creighton and Tarr’s Valley, where people commuting into Creighton, or to work on farms, had to navigate on foot around a 5m-wide sinkhole.
“At the farmer’s expense, at nearly R20 a litre of diesel, this is what we have to do to use our roads. It is disastrous for farmers and rural communities, who depend on these roads.
"Roads have become nearly impassable and... dangerous to use; we are now filling with shale to try and prevent the road from further falling away,” said farmer Hayden Stokes.
Before repairing roads at their own cost, both Mid-Illovo and Ingwe Farmers’ Associations were in constant communication with the Department of Roads and Transport, said Kwanalu
Now, to address the need for collective action at district level and to seek urgent action, Kwanalu has been implementing a roads campaign to work within the relevant structures at local, district, provincial and national level and also seek other interventions.
The Independent on Saturday