Residents’ road rage

PRIORITIES, PRIORITIES: A grader levelling the surface of Bells Road before it is paved, as residents are angry over the prioritisation of the road over commonly used ones Picture: ANDISA BONANI

Komani residents have expressed discontentment over the latest service delivery developments that proved the Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality (EMLM) paving Bells Road, where the headquarters of the district municipality is located.

Residents criticised the local authority for priorisiting a “hardly used” road over routes people regularly used to get to work, including the ones in residential areas.

The decaying Bells Road rehabilitation project began on Tuesday, and entails the paving of the road to improve its surface quality and outlook, and the repairing of the concrete kerbs.

The R4m project funded by the Chris Hani District Municipality (CHDM) also seeks to improve the function of the storm water drainage system in the area.

EMLM spokesperson Lonwabo Kowa indicated the 1.8km road stretch would be resurfaced, stabilised and compacted.

“The four-month project will be implemented in phases; the first one will cover the stretch from Griffiths Street and cover a portion of Wodehouse, up to the traffic lights on Bells Road.  The second phase will start from the Bells Road traffic lights through to New Rest residential area, and up to where it joins Victoria Road.

He said the improved road would improve business and residential prospects, while also providing smooth driving for motorists.

“The municipality will continue to work on rehabilitating its roads and streets as clearly stated in its adopted Integrated Development Plan (IDP) and budget. The project is funded by CHDM, we are just providing project management skills and expertise from our staff complement.”

Kowa indicated the project was structured to encourage community participation and skills development, as over 20 local people that include the youth and women were recruited to work for the duration of the project through the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).

However, the news of the refurbishment of Bells Road was not received well by Komani residents who said the local authority failed in all aspects of service delivery as it struggled to conclude its pothole-filling project.

The backlashing comments by irate residents who lambasted the municipality were posted on the institution’s Facebook page, with some campaigning for the ANC to be voted out of power in the next year’s local government elections.

Mazu KaMapete said both the district and local municipalities were a joke for only recruiting 20 people when hundreds of Komani youth were unemployed.

“You have no shame, we will remember all this when we are at the ballot box come 2021.”

“Woaw wait, is this the road where the municipal offices are? Is it the road you [decided to] start with in all of Komani? Of all the bad roads in this town you start with the one which is better than most,” asked Yonelani Qinisile.

Sammy Mamdlane said all roads and streets in Komani had potholes and that Bells Road was not the worst of them all.

“There are huge potholes on Green Street heading towards Man Pub and Braai from Midas, going into Westbourne that need to be fixed.”

Responding to why the road was prioritised over other dilapidated ones, Kowa said it was one of the “most used” stretches of road as it had a lot of business activity.

“The road was decaying and in a bad state.There are other known roads that are in a poor state but can only be repaired when funds are available.”

CHDM spokesperson Thobeka Mqamelo said CHDM recently approved innovative projects that would be implemented in various municipalities under it, which include the refurbishment of parts of Wodehouse Street and Bells Road.

“To kick-start the implementation, we have partnered with EMLM and have embarked on upgrading the two stretches of road. To this effect, council approved a budget of R4m towards its implementation which will be utilised for required material, machinery and stipends for EPWP workers.”

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