East Cape country roads in crisis

Duncan Reyneke

A DRIVE into the rural Eastern Cape this winter may be more than your bakkie or 4×4 can take, thanks to heavy and persistent rains that have reduced roads to gorges.

Game reserves and farmers in the Paterson district are frustrated at having to drive craggy, potholed roads – many of which become impassable in the rainy conditions.

Paterson ostrich farmer Jenny Fischer said roads to and from her property had deteriorated steadily in recent years.

Gravel paths leading to and around her home had been worn down to the underlying clay, dotted with massive potholes and hazardous, sloping ravines running alongside them.

“We go to the Department of Roads all the time with this – we have been for years. Nothing’s been done yet to make it any better – they always just send out another grader to flatten the land, but we need gravel,” she said.

Wildlife manager at the Shamwari Game Reserve, Bruce Main, said the condition of the roads had resulted in damage to lodge and visitors’ vehicles.

Main said that talks with Eastern Cape roads authorities were usually met with promises to grade the gravel roads, which, he agreed, would not help the situation.

Provincial Department of Roads and Transport engineer Thys Groenewald, who has previously been called out to inspect the Paterson area’s gravel roads, went out to inspect the area’s roads yesterday. “The roads are still quite bad,” he said.

Groenewald said the lack of road development in the area was due, in part, to the contract being handed over to the Coega Development Corporation (CDC) last year.

“Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a lot of movement on this project to date, and it now seems they’re having some trouble getting it off the ground,” he said.

CDC representatives were not available for comment yesterday.

Groenewald said the department had, since inspecting the area’s roads network, assigned R4-million to R5- million to construction tenders, which were being adjudicated.

“We should know within the next three to four weeks when we’ll be able to start working on improving the road conditions in this area,” he said.

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