Eastern Cape truckers are no strangers to potholes and will therefore be pleased to hear that a programme by the Department of Roads and Public Works (DRPW) is targeted on making potholes in the province a thing of the past. The Road Enterprise Development Programme (REDP), launched in March 2010, has been rolling out various roads maintenance projects throughout the Eastern Cape, including everything from large scale reseals and bridge-building to potholes and road failure reliefs.
“The Eastern Cape’s roads have long needed attention and the REDP strategically aims to facilitate meeting these ends, in the process developing emergent and small construction firms to build roads under the mentorship of established construction companies and engineers,’ says Ayanda Vilakazi, Coega Development Corporation (CDC) head of marketing and communications. The CDC is the implementing agent for the programme.
In the past year, over 25 685.7 cubic meters of potholes have been fixed throughout the province – either through the process of plugging or base and surface repair.
The process of plugging is when a pothole is immediately patched with cold premix. Base and surface repair is when the road layer is removed and a new layer is laid with a new blacktop surface.
The areas of concentration have been the Kouga District and the following Eastern Cape roads: R392, R410, R408, R409, R390, R39, R349, R396; with many more earmarked for repair in the near future.
The REDP sees the dual benefit of roads construction in the Eastern Cape along with the simultaneous training and development of small micro and medium enterprises (SMMEs). The programme targets contractors, material suppliers, quarry operators, plant hirers, consultants and mechanics on road infrastructure construction and maintenance in the region. “A simple approach to maintenance and infrastructure upgrade is seeing the creation of jobs and facilitation of skills development,’ says Vilakazi, adding that 80% of the total roads construction projects have been awarded to small businesses over the past year.
A Queenstown engineer working on the REDP, Lacier Wynne, says potholes are a perennial problem throughout the country and that only a complete overhaul of the roads system would address the problem. He adds, however, that the REDP initiative is a step in the right direction as an immediate solution.
Participants on the project include engineers, contractors, grass cutters, flag bearers and safety officers. The REDP engineers and construction workers repair potholes throughout the Eastern Cape and in the process, document the sites of repair to ensure they are monitored. When potholes are repaired, the date and time is recorded next to the pothole in visible road markings.
“We are essentially data-basing the state of the roads but this process is not without its challenges. The reality is that while the repair jobs are well done, it is not long before a new pothole appears directly next to the very area that had been repaired. In time, the capacitated SMMEs will be used for a complete overhaul of the Eastern Cape roads network but for now, this approach is the immediate solution.’
“The reality is that the Eastern Cape has many arterial routes which are used by trucks and the REDP is moving to mitigate immediate problems while creating a long-term solution in the form of enterprises which are empowered to provide the critical infrastructure needed in the province. This approach ensures delivery and high impact skills development.’
While FleetWatch commends this programme, we raise a concern that in many areas where potholes are being patched, it is only a matter of time , usually after the first rain , that the patch lifts and the repair has to be done again. I have personally seen this countless times in the West Rand area. Somehow the engineers have to train the contractors in the correct methods of fixing a pothole so that it lasts longer than one season. Otherwise the patch merely acts as a temporary solution to a recurring problem , and that pours a lot of money down the drain – or rather, into the pothole.
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