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Sunday / 23 June 2024
HomeFeaturesWhy some roads in Cape Town deteriorate a lot faster than others

Why some roads in Cape Town deteriorate a lot faster than others

According to the City of Cape Town’s Roads Infrastructure Management Department, some roads in and around the major metro degrade faster than others due to external factors such as illegal occupation and activities in certain areas, criminal elements that hamper critical road maintenance and upgrade projects, and, particularly in winter, heavy rainfall that amplifies the damages cars inflict on tarmac when driving over it.

This in response to allegations that the city “ignores requests to repair dilapidated roads in certain parts of Cape Town,” said Councillor Rob Quintas, Mayoral Committee Member for Urban Mobility.

“The deterioration of roads and formation of potholes during winter is a common occurrence as it is directly related to heavy rainfall,” he said.

When it rains and the water accumulates on the road, vehicle tyres squeeze the water into the pavement. In turn, the repeated pump action between the road surface and the tyres causes the road to crack and thus potholes are formed.

Matters are exacerbated in specific parts of Cape Town by external factors such as illegal occupation of territory, illegally discharged grey water from washing machine outlets, water stand pipes next to the road being left open and running, and illegal dumping within stormwater and sewer infrastructure that lead to overspills and blockages, said Quintas.

The most recent complaint centred around the current state of Oliver Tambo Drive in Samora Machel, which has been resurfaced twice within the past three years; in June 2021 and again in May 2022.

“The cause of Oliver Tambo Drive’s deterioration can be attributed to heavy rainfall, open-stand pipes left running, vandalism of infrastructure, illegal car wash establishments, and illegal water and sewer connections,” said the councillor.

The city has also received criticism over Japtha K Masemola Road in Makhaza.

“The main contributing factor to Japtha K Masemola Road’s deterioration is the illegal occupation of the wetland,” said Quintas.

“Structures have been built over critical stormwater infrastructure which prevents stormwater from draining, which then floods the road thus affecting the road surface.”

For this specific area, the city is currently engaging with the Human Settlements Department to look at the possible relocation of such structures to ensure alternative drainage options are available.

As Japtha K Masemola Road is near a wetland, this intervention also requires participation from the Environmental Management department before any permanent resurfacing works can be scheduled.

“In the interim, the City will continue infilling potholes with ‘coldmix’ under the current wet winter conditions to ensure the road surface is drivable,” said Quintas.

“Permanent repairs will not be effectively achieved when a road or the base layers underneath the road are still wet.”

Permanent repairs entail cutting the existing road surface around the pothole, preparing the base course, applying tack coat to the prepared base course, and finally placing the hot premix, which must be done after the annual rainfall period.

“The City urges residents to please refrain from throwing dishwater onto the roads and dumping solid waste items illegally. Soap, effluent, and fats eat through the asphalt. If we do not stop illegal dumping into the system, we cannot guarantee that sewer spills will ever stop or even occur less frequently,” said the councillor.

“We further plead with residents to not illegally occupy canals or retention ponds, or build over our stormwater infrastructure.”

7 road upgrades stopped by Mafias

In addition to the above elements, “extortion and other criminal activities such as hijackings and armed robberies” in certain areas of Cape Town affect the speedy rehabilitation of roads, said Quintas.

In June, the city’s Urban Mobility Directorate issued a notice that at least seven major projects to the tune of R58.6 million, ranging from the construction of new public transport infrastructure to road and stormwater maintenance, were held up or completely stopped due to threats and intimidation by “mafia-style extortionists.”

The jobs included:

  • Delft – Roads resealing and stormwater repairs project
  • Bishop Lavis – Upgrading of various roads and associated works
  • Khayelitsha – Walter Sisulu / Lindela roundabout with R600,000 at risk in unspent capital budget
  • Kalksteenfontein – Roads rehabilitation project with R16.9 million at risk in unspent capital budget
  • Delft – Rehabilitation of Delft Main Road, from Stellenbosch Arterial to Silversands Road with R13.5 million at risk in unspent capital budget
  • Brooklyn – Installation of traffic calming measures and footways, including sidewalk and embayment construction with R195,000 at risk in unspent capital budget
  • Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain – Construction of new MyCiTi depots on the corner of Spine Road and Mew Way with R27.4 million at risk in unspent capital budget

Quintas said these groups are holding the city ransom with “threats, intimidation, and tragically, outright murder” of the contractors on site in an attempt to “siphon public capital into their own pockets.”

This comes at the expense of the citizens living in the areas, which primarily include Cape Town’s “most vulnerable communities” such as Delft, Khayelitsha, and Mitchells Plain, he said.

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