By Jacqueline Holloway and Nienke Botha
Local resident, Sylvester Bowles, took up the initiative to start fixing the potholes in Albany Road. This road is filled with treacherous potholes, so big that an accident had even occurred where a car was overturned. “When I looked at the street, my heart was broken. I feared for the people walking and for those driving as well – they have to swerve out of the way of the potholes,” Bowles said.
The deputy principal of George Dickerson Primary School, R.D. Coetzee, also expressed his concerns. “Where there are designated areas for the parents and taxis to park, there are large potholes,” he said.
Bowles took the initiative on starting a project in the area to fix the roads. He said the street looked unbearable, and his main concern was the possibility of accidents. He decided to gather up some of his friends and colleagues to fill up the potholes. One member of his team, Richard Alexander, tells us that they took it upon themselves to fix the roads, as the local municipality does not do a proper job. “They [the municipality]just come and fill the holes with sand, and then they leave,” he says. This presents a problem as the heavy rainfall of recent will simply wash out the sand and the holes will remain.
Bowles said lots of sponsors came forward when he and his team first started filling the holes. One of their first was Boldline Manufacturing, who brought a truck filled with sand, fine grit and five bags of cement. Another, J.D. Projects, brought five welcome bags of cement. Another offered that the local team could go and collect stones from his building site. Their biggest sponsor, CashBuild, gave them 40 bags of cement, 20 for Bowles and his team and 20 for another local who was fixing potholes near Mary Waters High School. CashBuild also gave them two wheelbarrows and four spades. “We thank CashBuild for giving us the material to complete this project,” Bowles said.
Regardless of these sponsorships, Bowles says he and his team still had to take from their own pockets to buy more sand and other equipment. They also used their own finances to pay some of the labourers who offered to help with the strenuous task of filling the potholes. Sometimes residents of the local neighbourhood would also donate. “Funds started to run out because we didn’t have any funds to start off with,” says Bowles. Funding is their largest obstacle at this stage, as it is the only way that they can buy materials to continue with this project.
What was the most challenging part of the task?
“We didn’t even have any problems, we just wanted to fix [the roads],” Bowles said. “We were so motivated that within the first two days we were done.” Bowles and his team, as well as people living and working in the surrounding area, are very happy with their work. Cars can now drive smoothly along that section of road without fear of any potholes.
This project would help the schools in the area as well, one resident said, as it would ensure the safety of the children who walk. Triumphantly, Bowles says that he and his team are planning to continue this project in other roads such as Currie and Fitchat streets. However, funding is crucial to this project and Bowles believes that if every member of the community would contribute a small amount, it would certainly be possible.