Durban - THE KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport has urged the angry Nkandla community to calm down following protests over the poor state of roads in the area, saying steady progress is being made to improve the roads.
Nkandla Local Municipality mayor Mbhekiseni Biyela said the protests were sparked by lack of progress in fixing the roads, which are littered with potholes despite former Transport MEC Peggy Nkonyeni pledging more than R2 billion for the repairs in 2021.
“In 2021 MEC Nkonyeni said they had set aside R2.4bn to fix all damaged roads in Nkandla. Now the department is sending us documents saying they will assist us, but if you look at that document it does not say anything.
“Before the strike began on Monday, Transport HoD Simphiwe Nkosi arrived but Transport MEC Hlomuka did not arrive, so the residents wanted Hlomuka, not Nkosi,” Biyela said.
He said the protests were disruptive to the community as people could not go to clinics, and some schools might not open today.
“In Nkandla everything is at a standstill, parents cannot go to school to register their children because of the protest action, and I think some schools will not open for learning,” said Biyela.
Mgcobeni Khanyile, an Nkandla resident, described the state of the roads in the area as “unbearable”.
“The protest was not violent, residents did not destroy infrastructure and there were no cases of looting and vandalism reported. People have been complaining about this for years now and have had talks with many MECs, but the roads are still damaged.
“Even the taxi drivers have joined the protest because this is affecting everyone. Many promises have been made and this is a big issue all over Nkandla, not a small section. What is sad is that these roads are provincial roads that intersect with other neighbouring small towns,” Khanyile said.
Thando Biyela, the Department of Transport spokesperson, said the department was aware of the protests.
She urged residents to be calm, saying the department was working on fixing the roads.
“We know about the situation in Nkandla, we are doing everything we can to fix the roads. We had a meeting with the mayor and the community the day before yesterday to tell them about the plan and the progress.
“In terms of fixing the roads, the department is making progress, but there were challenges like the coronavirus, which caused delays. I can confirm that the contractor will start soon, we ask that they be patient with us and the issue will be fixed,” said Biyela.