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Pothole patrol: New partnership geared to making a marked difference to SA’s road users

From left: Anton Ossip, CEO of Discovery Insure; Kenny Kunene, Joburg Transport MMC; Ramasela Ganda, Group CEO of ZEDA Limited and Avis Southern Africa; Zweli Nyathi, Acting CEO at JRA; Kgodiso Mokonyane, Head of Strategy and Value-Added Products at Discovery Insure; Litha Nkombisa, Executive: commercial sales at Avis. Picture: Supplied

From left: Anton Ossip, CEO of Discovery Insure; Kenny Kunene, Joburg Transport MMC; Ramasela Ganda, Group CEO of ZEDA Limited and Avis Southern Africa; Zweli Nyathi, Acting CEO at JRA; Kgodiso Mokonyane, Head of Strategy and Value-Added Products at Discovery Insure; Litha Nkombisa, Executive: commercial sales at Avis. Picture: Supplied

Published Jul 4, 2023


Johannesburg - Discovery Insure and Avis Southern Africa have announced a partnership to support the Discovery Pothole Patrol in Johannesburg.

This partnership, which was announced on Thursday, will see the two companies working together to identify and repair potholes on major roads in the city.

Pothole Patrol was initially launched in May 2021 to support the Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA) and the City of Johannesburg to deal head on with the serious pothole problem in the city.

“Together with the Johannesburg Roads Agency, we are excited to have Avis join the Discovery Pothole Patrol,” CEO of Discovery Insure Anton Ossip said.

He explained that potholes are a major safety hazard, and he believes that this cross-sector partnership aimed at tackling the problem of potholes in the city, will help to make Johannesburg’s roads safer.

Meanwhile, Group CEO of ZEDA Limited and Avis Southern Africa, Ramasela Ganda said they believe everyone has a role to play in making our roads safer.

“As an integrated mobility business we are committed to providing our customers with a safe and reliable driving experience,” said Ganda

“This partnership will ensure that we stay true to this commitment. By working together with Discovery Insure and the JRA, we can make a real difference in the lives of our customers and broader society.”

In addition, JRA Acting CEO Zweli Nyathi said providing quality roads that are accessible and liveable for our communities is their mission as the entity manages a 13 599 km road network across the City of Johannesburg.

“We therefore welcome this extended partnership in support of the Discovery Pothole Patrol, which is assisting our depots with some of our reactive maintenance on our extensive road network and thus ensuring safer mobility for road users,” Nyathi said.

Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) for Transport councillor Kenny Kunene also applauded the extended partnership.

“The Discovery Pothole Patrol Initiative, eliminating one pothole at a time is just one example of how the JRA and the City’s Transport department is transforming the way in which it looks at service delivery. Through partnerships and developmental models where citizens and business are no longer the passive recipients of services but active participants, working together for the greater good.”

Supplied image.

A partnership marked with milestones

Those involved with this partnership to eradicate potholes in the city said the monthly impact of pothole damage to South Africa is concerning.

Discovery has estimated the cost to South Africans is approximately R500 million per month and this is equivalent to buying 550 000 new tyres each month.

“Notwithstanding this worrying picture, we have achieved our core purpose to enhance and protect lives by making our roads safer, through Pothole Patrol,” said the head of strategy and value-added products at Discovery Insure, Kgodiso Mokonyane.

He said that through the initiative, all motorists in the City of Johannesburg have made great savings in preventing pothole-related incidents.

“That would have resulted in them needing to make a significant financial outlay to fix their vehicles, while Discovery Insure clients have made a potential saving of 21% from expected pothole claims,” said Mokonyane.

Pothole Patrol also made a marked difference on Johannesburg roads, by repairing close to 175 000 potholes and road defects across Johannesburg. Discovery Insure data shows a 26% drop in pothole-related claims in Johannesburg since its launch in May 2021 to December 2021, compared to an increase of 45% in the rest of Gauteng over the same period. In 2022, pothole-related incidents per 100km had increased by 29% throughout the country, and remained flat in Johannesburg.

“We are deeply encouraged by Discovery’s shared-value insurance model, which enables us to be a force for good and positively impact the lives of our clients and the broader society. In just two years, there have been fewer pothole incidents on Johannesburg roads, made possible through Pothole Patrol,” said Mokonyane.

The initiative has also accomplished the following:

– Approximately 13 000 Pothole Patrol App downloads

– 58 000 potholes have been reported through the App

– It has used 7 000 tons of asphalt to fill 175 000 potholes

Meanwhile, the Discovery Pothole Patrol will operate seven days a week, and it will focus on major roads in Johannesburg that are known to have potholes and those reported on the Pothole Patrol app. The team of technicians will also work with local authorities to identify and repair potholes in areas that are not regularly patrolled.

Discovery Pothole Patrol will contribute skills to road maintenance in Johannesburg through the launch of the Discovery Pothole Patrol Academy (Academy). This shared-value initiative is intended to not only improve road safety in Johannesburg, but also to be a force for social good.

The Academy is a skills development programme which aims to empower youth from nearby communities with viable skills that can be used immediately after the training and to improve their income generating prospects.

“The academy will create a pipeline for the Discovery Pothole Patrol, and add capacity to the existing team of technicians. The graduates will also be equipped with business skills, “and therefore encouraged to start their own small businesses in the road maintenance industry,” said Mokonyane.

Meanwhile, Ganda said that Avis are pleased that through the Pothole Patrol initiative, they will continue to embed their social impact by uplifting local communities and creating skills development opportunities.

“We therefore look forward to achieving many more milestones through this initiative," he said.

Enhanced technology to Pothole Patrol

Since the initial launch, Discovery Insure has applied its assets and capabilities such as the telematics technology applied in Vitality Drive to identify potholes.

They explained that this process of identifying potholes has been enhanced to improve efficiencies, by introducing game-changing artificial intelligence (AI) software that is able to detect road defects with unparalleled accuracy and efficiency.

The advanced AI technology scans every inch of the road, identifying potholes, cracks, and imperfections in real-time. The technology also measures and categorises them, providing invaluable insights for prioritisation and swift action.

“The data collected by this AI software becomes a roadmap to success, empowering our graduates and partnering municipalities to make informed decisions and deliver exceptional results,” Mokonyane said.

“Through shared-value and by keeping safety for all at the heart of what we do, repairing potholes is just one way we get to make a difference. And we look forward to continuing the good work already achieved with Avis on board," he added.

Report your pothole today

Being able to repair potholes depends on being able to identify their exact locations.

Although Discovery Insure’s unrivalled telematics data enables them to locate potholes quite accurately via their clients, many more road defects can be reached with invaluable community input.

To help make a positive difference go even further, report potholes with the Discovery Pothole Patrol App.

Simply download the Discovery Pothole Patrol App, which is available on the IOS app store and Google Play. Once downloaded, follow the registration prompts and you're all set to report potholes as you come across them on the roads.