Fed up Joburg residents take matters into own hands by fixing potholes, cleaning streets
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Johannesburg - As City of Joburg streets crumble beneath residents’ feet with ever-increasing potholes, residents have taken it upon themselves to fill potholes in some areas, either with asphalt or with rubbish.
The situation has become so bad that the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) has intervened with its #StopCitizenAbuse campaign. Representatives last week visited Weltevreden Park/ Panorama residents, who, pushed by the inaction and apparent non-response by the Johannesburg Road Agency (JRA) and other entities, have taken the initiative and filled more than 80 potholes along the busiest routes in the area.
“We visited the community to learn more about the steps it has taken to look after local infrastructure, and take a stand against the neglect and abuse of citizens meted out by their municipality. The IRR encourages communities either struggling with getting their municipality to attend to infrastructure and service delivery, or taking the initiative to fix things themselves and thereby acting to stop citizen abuse, to reach out to us. Doing so will enable us to use such examples to inspire other communities and arm us with the real-life examples of citizen abuse that will help to put pressure on the government. Together we can #StopCitizenAbuse,” said Amy-Claire Morton of the IRR.
The initiative was spearheaded by the Panorama Residents’ Association (PRA), which is responsible for the area bounded by Jim Fouche Street, Hendrik Potgieter Drive, Tennis Street and JG Strydom Drive. The PRA, along with EC Security, got together with members of the community to fill the potholes, using a total of 875 kg of asphalt and tar.
Chairperson Dave Baxter told MetroWatch that the community had decided to take its neighbourhood back because of lack of service delivery by the council.
“Our efforts were funded by annual membership fees of residents. We have spent almost R200 000 on filling potholes with asphalt and compacting them. We are also doing grass cutting and removing weeds and trees growing between the pavement stones and stormwater drains,” he said.
MetroWatch receives numerous calls from across Joburg, with residents expressing huge concerns over the potholes which are getting larger every day, posing a danger to motorists and pedestrians.
Louis Botha Avenue, along which the Rea Vaya is under construction, is one of the worst to navigate. Besides the potholes and construction works, which have been blocking the road for many months now, the pavements are waist-high with grass and weeds, which are now spilling onto the roads in the Yeoville/Berea areas, disrupting traffic.
The Kensington, Malvern and Jeppe areas are also riddled with holes, many of which are being “filled” by concerned residents with bricks or other materials to avoid motorists falling into them.
In Jeppe, residents placed a broken chair into one of the holes to warn motorists of its presence.
The city however, said all will be well when it announced earlier this week that its Johannesburg Roads Agency’s (JRA) asphalt plant, which has not been operational since August, is now functional.
The JRA said the plant had been closed due to technical and operational challenges, but is now fully-functional.
The downtime affected the speed of service delivery in relation to road maintenance, as the JRA had to source asphalt from private suppliers. Key measures now in place include the procurement of input materials, the appointment of specialist and key strategies personnel, as well as specialised skills training for staff, said chairman of the board, Albert Mokoena, who added that the JRA will now work to full capacity.
The city and Gauteng province have also launched a “120 days of service delivery plan.”
The City of Joburg’s acting mayor, Loyiso Masuku and Gauteng Roads and Transport MEC, Jacob Mamabolo launched the road network improvement drive, Smart Mobility Weekends Campaign – a move aimed at improving the overall conditions of the province’s road network.