The dire condition of South Africa’s roads are a safety and economic risk for the agriculture sector and for the public. Not only has it already had a significant impact on the economy, but it it is no longer safe on South Africa’s roads. This according to the Transvaal Agricultural Union of South Africa (TLU SA).
While there are several factors that play a role in the dilapidated state of SA roads, the heavy rain in recent weeks and the accompanying floods have damaged roads. However, many roads were already in a poor state before the inclement weather, the organisation pointed out.
According to Drickus Botha, TLU SA northern regional manager, Limpopo recently lost a leader farmer and food producer who died due to the dire and dangerous condition of the R522 between Vivo and Louis Trichardt.
“Mr. Gillie Fick was well-known in the cattle farming industry and tragically died on Friday due to a pothole in a road littered with potholes. Mr. Gert Fourie also recently died in a car accident on the same road. There are often serious accidents on the road with too many deaths,” said Botha.
He said despite the agricultural union and its structures having had regular discussions with the department of public works on behalf of the previous MEC, the department unilaterally suspended these productive and regular discussions.
Roads beyond repair
According to TLU SA, the excuse South Africans across the country get is: There is no money, no manpower and no machinery. “However, there is a large part of the fuel price – which rises almost every month – for the maintenance of roads. What happens to that money?”
Botha points out that recently R5000 was given to each taxi driver to compensate for losses they suffered due to the condition of the roads.
“Farmers suffer even more damage to their vehicles and products that must reach the markets to feed the people. There are even transport contractors who refuse to use these specific roads due to the condition of roads while other contractors increase their tariffs if they must make deliveries or transport food to farmers – to whom access can only be obtained on the neglected roads.”
Farming input costs are already very high, and this is even before the recent fuel price increase is taken into account, Botha says.
“We simply cannot afford another onslaught – like the national road conditions – in our effort to provide quality food to the people at affordable prices. The government must now come to the table and at all levels pay attention to the deterioration of our roads, because it is already a crisis,” Botha emphasised.
Furthermore TLU SA said both dirt and gravel roads need urgent attention, because due to the lack of regular maintenance, the condition of the roads are now so bad that they need to be rebuilt. The agricultural organisation says we are past the stage where maintenance is still a possible solution.
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