19 March 2019

South Africa: Fix Our Roads, Demand Pietermaritzburg Residents

On Monday, residents of Maqongqo, Pietermaritzburg, supported by the local taxi association, bus drivers and businesses, blocked all access to the area with trees and stones in a protest for better roads.

Residents want the busy D1026 and the D1000 roads fixed as well as the road to Ezibhananeni.

"The only language our government understands is protests," said Mphe Ngcobo, chairperson of the local Gcina Taxi Association. "The roads are a mess ... We buy Quantum taxis and they only last for two years."

Ngcobo said, "It's not even potholes any more. The roads have one lane. Each car has to wait for another one to pass. We fix tyres and other parts almost every month."

"In 2018, we were told that there were processes underway for these three roads ... The roads are getting worse every day. We had no option but to take it to the streets. They understand this language better," said Ngcobo.

He said the authorities were quick to hand out fines and say taxis were not roadworthy, but the roads were the reason the taxis were not in a good condition.

Resident Zethu Malinga said, "The taxis refuse to transport us to our taxi stops. The drivers complain about the condition of the roads. The situation becomes worse when it is raining. Taxis can't drive on the roads. We are suffering."

Ward councillor Nhlanhla Zondo (ANC) said, "The Department of Transport is working on these three roads. The community has run out of patience. The surveyors have started the process. The department has promised that by August and September, there would be visible intervention."

Spokesperson for the Department of Transport Mluleki Mntungwa said, "The department is currently busy with the designs. The MEC (Mxolisi Kaunda) made the residents aware of that when he addressed them. By September, the contractors will be able to start with the roads."

He said gravel roads had been affected by floods and officials had been deployed to check conditions.

Protests in Mpumuza

Residents in Mpumuza also blockaded their roads with burning tyres and taxi drivers stopped services for Khumalo, Mankonyane and Shange location.

Community spokesperson and taxi rank manager Vusi Shange said, "I receive complaints from the drivers everyday. Some of the roads have ditches which have become holes. One can bury a cat or a dog in the holes. Taxis cannot use some of these roads. They must bring at least a grader ... to fix these roads while we wait for their empty promises."

Ward 1 Councillor Jabu Ngubo (ANC) addressed the residents at Ephayiphini. She said: "The Department of Transport has agreed to assist me. The challenge they raise is that they only have four trucks. Those trucks service four municipalities. However, they have promised to come next week Monday to check on the matter."

Taxi rank manager Vusi Shange shows GroundUp the state of the roads in Khumalo location. "One can bury a cat or a dog in the holes. Taxis cannot use some of these roads," says Shange.

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