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There are more than 25 million potholes and counting

In the last five years, the number of potholes on the nation’s roads has dramatically increased. According to estimates, there are currently 25 million potholes nationwide, which is 10 million higher than in 2017.

According to a statement from the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral), this information was presented at the 7th South African Roads Federation (Sarf) Regional Conference of Africa on Tuesday in Cape Town. This was according to Moneyweb.

The main causes of the problem’s acceleration in recent years have been identified as inadequate maintenance of the road infrastructure and a lack of political will, with enormous financial ramifications not only for road users but also for business and, ultimately, the economy.

The state-owned company adds that, should complete road rehabilitation become necessary, a delay in repairing the dangerous road depressions could increase repair costs by 18 times.

Making progress

Operation Vala Zonke, a nationwide effort to combat potholes, was launched in August by the Department of Transportation, with Sanral serving as the implementing organization.

The issue may not be receiving enough government funding, according to former Sarf president Mutshutshu Nxumalo, who also noted that the 5% allotted from the national fiscus is insufficient to maintain the nation’s most valuable asset.

Sanral is working hard, but it can’t do it all by itself. The political will and awareness as to what must be done are out of balance. Nxumalo said, “We have legislation, but the wrong leadership.

“Without maintenance, our roads reach the end of their useful lives, which eventually causes bigger issues. Particularly in our case, potholes are caused by a delay in timely repairs.

Because road-related accident claims were putting a strain on private insurance players’ balance sheets, they were forced to intervene as the condition of the nation’s roads deteriorated so drastically over the past few years.

In May 2021, Discovery Insure launched a public-private partnership with the City of Johannesburg and Dialdirect Insurance to fix potholes in the Johannesburg area. The partnership, which goes by the name Pothole Patrol, claimed in February that it had already patched nearly 80 000 potholes in the nation’s commercial center.

The collaboration appears to be fruitful, as the Department of Transportation announced earlier this year its plans to create a new regulation that would permit more private parties to effectively perform the government’s function of maintaining vital infrastructure.

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