SA’s pothole crisis: Meet PMB’s Mr Pothole who’s on a one man mission to fix them all



Published Aug 26, 2022


Durban – Meet Pietermaritzburg’s Mr Pothole or Pothole Paul, whichever takes your fancy.

Chartered accountant and independent financial adviser by day and a pothole-fixer in his free time, Paul Moschides is passionate about active citizenry.

“This is my third year of fixing potholes. When lockdown started in March 2020, I went for walks in my Pietermaritzburg suburb of Oak Park, and noticed to my dismay, that potholes were appearing due to Municipality neglect.

“I then went onto YouTube and spent hours researching pothole repairs. I first started filling in cracks in the roads. I ground them out with a circular wire brush attached to my drill which was powered by my load-shedding generator. I then heated the (technically correct) product and poured it into the cracks. This has halted the ingression of water into the substructure of the road which adds to its longevity.”

While most people wonder why Moschides started this, he said there was a need for active citizenry.

“We own our country, not the municipality, not the government.”

He said the issue of potholes was dire and widespread in Pietermaritzburg.

Moschides said he was overwhelmed by the community response:

“I get heaps of enthusiasm. People drop off cool drinks, takeaway meals, chocolates and sweets, etc.”

Moschides began fixing potholes with a start-up of R20 000 of his own money.

“Then I thought, if there are 250 homes in Oak Park and each one contributes R40 per month, that’s R10 000 per month.

“So I went door to door and compiled a schedule.

“In two and a half years I have not changed the contribution. It’s a numbers game, I prefer to keep the R40 the same and just add contributors.”

“After two years, all the potholes in Oak Park were done.”

Moschides said he then started working on the road to town.

Mr Pothole on the job. Picture: Supplied

“The Community Police Forum (CPF) saw me and invited me to their meetings. The response to my 10-minute presentation was amazing. Since then, I have been invited to several suburbs represented by the suburb ‘leader’ and we have had a great time doing potholes together.

“In the process, I have made sure to empower them so that they can be independent of me and able to carry on by themselves.

“After each session, I carry five camp chairs in my van, pull them out, and distribute cold beers to each “team”. This is the best part, by far,” Moschides said.

So what does it cost to repair a pothole?

“On average R300. The most expensive part is the cold tar, at R100 a bag. We generally use an average of 2.5 bags per pothole.”

Steps to Repair the Pothole:

– Sweep the pothole.

– Cut straight lines around the pothole with an angle grinder because the new tar has to key itself into the repair.

– Vertical sides are a must.

– Can’t have a deep end and shallow end in a pothole: it will unravel at the shallow end.

– Clean the base layer with a wire brush and a leaf blower to ensure all loose dirt is removed.

– Apply some anionic 60 stable to the base (this is the sticky stuff that forms a bond between the old and new tar).

– Wait for it to go black from brown and then apply the cold tar.

– Whack it in place with a light plate compactor.

– Pour anionic 60 into the pothole sides, this helps keep the old and new tar bound.

– And your’e done!

“Potholes can be immediately driven on, if the plate compactor has been used properly.”

Over the years, Moschides’ family has had to replace tyres and rims at great expense after hitting potholes.

“I once popped two tyres on a single pothole, while 450km from home.

“Unarmed, I had a very nervous wait on the roadside with all my belongings in a stuck car, until the repairer in the next town did several trips to get me going.”

So where to from here?

“I have set up a website called from which anyone can make a contribution. Either once off, (the website takes one to a PayPal portal) or one can set up one’s own monthly contribution of R40 per month using the “CPF Potholes” Investec account.

“I set up this Investec account with a firm of chartered accountants in Pietermaritzburg, which has independent signatories and to whom I present my expenses.

“I use my own money and then claim back after scrutiny by the honorary treasurer.”

“After seeing me in the roads, a corporate sponsor will be starting soon. They will provide a manned vehicle and trailer, pothole repair equipment and cold tar. Their reward will be the exposure they will get from the advertising on the vehicle and trailer. They want to be known as the ones who fix potholes in Pietermaritzburg.”

Moschides said his next biggest drive, is to engender active citizenry: “Where we take back our city from the municipality and take responsibility for things under our control. I love being part of the solution and encouraging others to do so too.”