What started as a way to beat the summer heat while protesting poor service delivery and road infrastructure for residents in Evaton West has resulted in some headway in fixing a road they say has had a giant pothole for over a decade.
On Sunday, pictures of community members in ward 26 swimming in a giant pothole in the street went viral on social media and provided a clear picture of how bad road infrastructure was in the embattled Emfuleni municipality.
“We wanted this street to be fixed because it has turned into a swimming pool, which is dangerous. We don’t want a dam. Why did they make a road if it was going to turn into a dam?” said Fikile Xaba.
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On Friday, News24 visited the street and found trucks working on the road. However, Xaba was not convinced that the work they were doing would be a permanent fix.
“They patch it, but the water still gathers in it, but this is the first time they have ever patched it like this. Because the community fought, they are patching it properly, but we don’t trust this is a permanent fix. We will see when it rains again,” she said.
Nomsa Khumalo, who has lived in the area for almost 30 years, said the road had been an issue since 2010 and the community was fed up with cars having to drive on the dusty sidewalk, which was a danger to their children.
“We didn’t want cars driving on the sidewalk because it puts our children’s lives in danger. We are not part of any organisation. We are a community that is trying to protect our children and area. It’s turned into a political thing. This road has been in ruins for a long time,” said Khumalo.
The Emfuleni Municipality, which was placed under administration by Gauteng Cogta MEC Lebogang Maile in 2019, has become notorious for bad road infrastructure, and according to Khumalo, residents were told by a previous councillor that the municipality’s council did not have the funds to fix the road.
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“We were told that the council doesn’t have money. We are under Emfuleni, so we know that council has no money. So other roads were fixed but we were told this one needs a lot more work and needs to be dug up,” she said.
Emfuleni Municipality spokesperson Makhosonke Sangweni told News24 that the road was one of those that were identified for rehabilitation and reconstruction by the provincial government.
During his 2021/22 budget Speech, Public Transport and Roads Infrastructure MEC, Jacob Mamabolo announced that the department had already spent over R170 million on roads maintenance and development in Emfuleni.