By Bheki Mbanjwa
KwaZulu-Natal is the province with the worst roads in the country, a response from the national Department of Transport has revealed.
In a written reply, on March 30, to DA parliamentary questions earlier in the month, the Department of Transport revealed that 49,6 percent (3 354km of the total 6 749km) of paved roads in the province were in a very poor condition.
But the data is based on a visual assessment of the province's roads in 2008.
The response further states that in KZN only 1,4 percent (96km) of the entire road network could be considered very good, while a further 14,1 percent (956 km) was classified as good and 34,5 percent (2 335km) was reported to be fair.
Behind KZN, according to the report) is Mpumalanga where only 3,2 percent of the entire road network was reported to be in a very good condition.
The data is based on an inspection conducted in Mpumalanga in 2004.
"Mpumalanga has updated their visuals and this data is being uploaded into the South African National Road Agency's Information Systems," reads the response.
The national average as given in the report as 18,9 percent (12 165km out of the total 64 346 km) for roads considered very poor, 33,5 percent (21 570km) for those found to be fair, 37,6 percent (24 220km) for good roads and only 8,24 percent (5 303 km) of roads were reported to be in very good condition.
The DA warned that poor maintenance of roads was hampering economic growth and endangering many lives.
The party called for the establishment of a dedicated fund for road maintenance.
"Clear and decisive assurances from the department on whether the fund will be established is necessary. Too many lives have been lost and economic growth has been stunted as a result of poor road maintenance and the rapid downhill plunge in road quality demands an urgent response," said Manny de Freitas, the DA spokesman on Transport.