By Selenathi Botha
Frantic efforts to repair potholes before the National Arts Festival started to pay off, with some of the roads outside City Hall, in Sunnyside, and near popular guesthouses in Oatlands all receiving long-awaited repairs. Makana Municipality announced this week that repairs to Scotts Avenue and Hemming, Huntly, Thompson, and High Street were complete.
But as the rain set in, some of the long-neglected township roads in Makhanda became almost impassable. Grocott’s Mail visited the busy Makana Way, a major taxi route, in Joza on 28 June, and witnessed taxis and trucks ploughing through two giant pond-like potholes at a snail’s pace. Smaller hatchback cars turned back once they reached the potholes. A sedan belonging to Zethulele Gumenge was stuck next to the road after Gumenge, who lives one street away, had tried to use the muddy grass to avoid the impassable potholes.
Gumenge told Grocott’s Mail, “These potholes are affecting me badly, especially financially. I just recently bought new tyres and shock absorbers for my car but they are already damaged because of these roads”. He continued that the worst part is that people have been voting but there’s no change at all even though Makana Mayor, Yandiswa Vara, lives near Makana Way.
A young man who lives on Makana Way did not want to be named but told Grocott’s Mail he is regularly called on by motorists to help push their cars out of the mud.
A taxi driver and concerned citizen who wanted to remain anonymous, also voiced out his concerns. ”The roads in Makhanda are very bad, especially in the township. That has caused big damage to people who have cars. There’s no year that we don’t fix our cars because of these potholes,” he said. The man continued that the terrible potholes affect taxi drivers financially because they have to keep fixing their cars with the same money they are supposed to be making for their families.
Another concerned citizen who also wanted to remain anonymous, saying he feared retribution, said it seemed the municipality did not care about any local drivers, whether residents or taxis, “for the fact that they can quickly fix the potholes near the City Hall just because there will be people who came from other provinces for a festival, and leave the township potholes un-attended”. He says they have been experiencing this problem for a long time now, and it still looks like the township potholes won’t be attended to anytime soon.
He added that they had taken steps to highlight the matter by protesting (taxi drivers and people in the township) but all they had received in response were promises that the municipality would fix the potholes. Yet this never happened.
People keep asking ”What about the township?”, he says, adding that they have now given up hope of ever having decent roads to drive on.
On 21 June 2023, the municipality announced that it had appointed TMS Consulting Engineers to oversee a revamp of another busy taxi route, Ncame Street, and Makana Way.