EDITORIAL | Joburg shouldn’t need help to fix potholes. That’s its job
Once again local government needs help from the private sector to perform its core functions
Johannesburg mayor Geoff Makhubo last week launched the Pothole Patrol, a campaign to manage the repair of potholes in the city. “We are confident that the launch of this initiative is a game-changer in resolving the scourge of potholes on our roads,” he announced with great fanfare. What he should have done, however, was to find a hole and hide in it out of shame. For this initiative is happening thanks to the support of two private insurance companies, Dialdirect and Discovery, and not because of the city of Joburg’s outstanding commitment to keep our roads pothole-free.
This happened as it came to light that the Johannesburg Road Agency’s grand plan to launch an app for residents to report potholes went on the road to nowhere. After spending a staggering R15m on the now defunct “Find&Fix” mobile application, it has also forked out R10m in damages to more than 300 motorists and businesses that had lodged claims for damages to their vehicles brought on by badly maintained roads.
Now the JRA, in partnership with the Gauteng transport department, has launched the Smart Mobility Weekends project, worth R53m, aimed at revamping and maintaining the city’s roads. It has identified 51 priority areas where potholes need to be fixed, surfaces need to be scraped and signage needs to be replaced. JRA spokesperson Themba Mathibe warned that this R53m would not be enough to fix all the infrastructure problems. It’s an excuse that leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. If the roads had been properly maintained from the start, there would have been much less fixing to do...