The minibus taxi industry may soon lead the fight against gaping holes in some of the country’s biggest municipalities as the state of the roads in some provinces getting worse.
Industry insiders have confirmed that in some municipalities vehicles just struggle to move as they have to painfully negotiate their ways through scattered and at times deep potholes. Free State, Limpopo, North West and even Northern Cape, as well as Gauteng, are believed to be leading the way as potholes capital provinces.
In Limpopo Santaco-affiliated Polokwane Local and Long Distance (Pollta) general secretary Tertius Mohlala said there were potholes in the R101 between Polokwane and Mokopane and also in the Warmbaths area to Northem.
“We have seen these potholes but they are not as bad as such but they are not needed in national and public roads. Our upper structure of Limpopo Capricorn Santaco region would have to take it up with government authorities,” said Mohlala.
In the Free State, seen and the capital city of potholes, taxi operators say they have been horrified at the bad conditions of some roads in areas like Senekal. Lady Brand and Welkom. Theo Malele, spokesperson for the National Taxi Alliance (NTA) says the roads are not fit for public transport and had mentioned steps they would like to take to address the issue.
“But of course when people and in particular those elected in positions of authority day service delivery this is what they should also be referring to and try to address. We hope to get it to some provincial authorities when we find time because for us this a very serious situation,” said Malele.
He said the Free State has some areas where the roads are so bad one may think there are two lanes for vehicles and bicycles.
“There is a situation in one area where the road sort of peels off and you see the other side as if it is made for bicycles and the other one for vehicles,” Malele said.
In Limpopo’s rural areas in municipalities such as Giyani. Collins Chabane, Thulamela, Polokwane and Ba-Phalaborwa the situation is so bad to such as extent that taxi associations have complained to authorities but said they have only received assurances but no real work has begun.
“Many people in some rural areas in a place like Dzumeri, K, Loloka, Mshiyani in the Giyani municipalities have to make do with roads in such disgusting conditions and many incidents have happened because of that,” says FELLDTA deputy chairman Solly Zitha.
Efforts to speak to a number of MECs and councillors for various provinces and municipalities have not been fully utilized at the time of going to press. Dickson Masemola, Limpopo MEC for roads and transport told a SABC radio station recently that his department, working with counterparts from public works had identified quite a number of roads within municipalities that needed to be redesigned and worked from the start.
“We would be working with various municipalities like Giyani, Collins Chabane and Thulamela as well as others to revamps these roads. For instance, the road from Giyani to Phalaborwa is just so bad it needs to be closed while work commences,” said Masemola, adding that even the road between Polokwane and Tzaneen needed to be worked on.
In Gauteng Santaco provincial secretary Phineas Chabalala confirmed that the problem was so big to such an extent that in areas like Hammanskraal drivers have always complained about big potholes that at times damage vehicles that need repairs at a cost.
“This is just too bad. As the taxi industry we take this issue in a very serious light and hope that a solution for this would be found by all stakeholders,” said Chabalala.