The seemingly neglected residents of Gwatyu farms resorted to R50 contributions from households who can afford it, towards the purchasing of required material to refurbish the area’s dilapidated R351 access road last month.
For years the situation at Gwatyu farms has been dire, with minimal service delivery reaching the area where the majority of residents depend on social grants.
The bad state of the Gwatyu access road has been blamed for local government’s lack of service delivery, as some required and important services could not reach the people due to the impassable road.
The residents have previously reported to The Rep that emergency services, including the police and ambulances, did not go to the area due to the condition of the road, especially after it had rained.
Last month, Gwatyu residents decided to take it upon themselves to fix the road by contributing money towards a fund to buy material to refurbish it.
Community leader in the area, Thembakazi Matsheke, indicated they were doing this as a construction company appointed to do the roadworks, was not carrying out its mandate.
“For many years the condition of Gwatyu roads has been so bad that when it rained, the roads became impassable, meaning schools had to be shut down. The situation has now become worse and the community realised we might find ourselves completely cut off from places we needed to go for our daily needs. All this while a company was contracted to fix the roads some years ago. The residents were not even consulted so we do not know what was expected of the company.”
Gwatyu residents have also been battling to get running water in their houses and are dependent on the Chris Hani District Municipality (CHDM) for rationed water, for which there is no delivery schedule.
“The community had to devise its own means to keep the road. The problem of companies being paid to provide a service to the community of Gwatyu and the residents ending up having to provide the service themselves predates the Covid-19 lockdown. The pandemic has only made a bad situation worse.
“We have no running tap water and the CHDM does not have a set delivery schedule. Gwatyu 42 000ha and is made up of 88 farms. One would learn that a delivery had been made at farm on a particular day and out of the blue. This is a major concern because people are trying to earn a living so the truck would come and some people would miss it.”
Matsheke indicated the water situation made it difficult for residents to adhere to the hygiene requirements like regular washing of hands in light of Covid-19.
Community members volunteered to work on the road which largely involved the filling of potholes, leveling and putting gravel on slippery patches and the installation of culverts that were left by a construction company that worked there some years ago.
“The R50 we collected from the households is used to buy diesel for a truck one of the community members lent us. We use gravel from a nearby quarry and hope one day government will heed the call and assist us in our problems. We are a forgotten community and are doing everything we can to seek help, but nothing has come of it yet.”
Department of transport spokesperson Unathi Bhinqose had not responded by the time of going to print.