The North West farming community has welcomed an announcement by the province’s premier Prof Tebogo Job Mokgoro that a total of R36,7 million has been spent in the first quarter of 2021 to repair roads that had been damaged by recent flooding.
Nonetheless, Willem de Chavonnes Vrucht, Agri North West chairperson, urged authorities to ensure that the roads were repaired according to the highest possible standards to prevent them from rapidly deteriorating again, as the majority of gravel roads in the province had been “in a deplorable condition even before the flooding”.
“It is of utmost importance that the provincial government makes use of the opportunity to [attend] to the gravel road network in particular. Just [scraping] and re-gravelling the road surface would be senseless. These roads, which have been in extremely poor condition for years, need to be rebuilt properly from scratch,” he told Farmer’s Weekly.
He said the entire agriculture sector, from the smallest farming enterprise to the largest commercial farming concern, was suffering due to constrained accessibility to markets because of the condition of the roads.
Proper stormwater drainage systems, for example, were of the essence. Without adequate drainage, water accumulated on road surfaces during the rainy season, rendering the roads impassable for long stretches.
According to him, a single rand spent on efficient road maintenance was worth much more than the cost of damage control over the long term.
Mokgoro said in a statement that R5,1 million was used to repair 24 roads in the Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati District Municipality, while R 10,87 million went towards roads in the Ngaka Modiri Molema District Municipality.
In the Bojanala Platinum District Municipality, 34 road projects amounting to R16,5 million had been completed, while several road rehabilitation projects were completed in the Dr Kenneth Kaunda District Municipality, at a cost of R4,3 million, since the flooding took place.
However, the total amount requested by municipalities for road repair projects in the province due to the flooding was R262,5 million. These municipalities, said Mokgoro, had been advised to reprioritise their municipal infrastructure grant budgets to attend to the damage.