Pothole volunteers project for Jeffreys Bay

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A group of Jeffreys Bay residents are fixing their roads – one pothole at a time.

A group of Jeffreys Bay residents are fixing their roads – one pothole at a time. Armed with spades, tar and a boatload of enthusiasm, two separate community projects have been launched and about 1000 potholes filled.

One of the projects covers the greater Jeffreys Bay area, while the other tackles the roads in Paradise Beach.

In just two weeks, more than 100 volunteers, including a music teacher, a novelist and an electrical engineer, have taken to the streets to fill in potholes, some as big as craters, to ready the town for the festive season.

Spearheaded by Paradise Beach Neighbourhood Watch chairman John Wiehahn, the group’s first task was to negotiate with Jeffreys Bay mayor Daphne Kettledas to avoid falling foul of municipal bylaws.

The talks ended with the municipality agreeing to provide sealing and filling material and the volunteers the manpower.

Residents also pitched in further with the provision of transport, trucks and equipment.

Wiehahn said budget constraints meant the sub-contractors appointed by the Kouga municipality could only repair some of the roads.

“This means that all other potholes and degraded road surfaces in the Paradise Beach area have to be resurfaced by us,” Wiehahn said yesterday.

On Saturday alone, Paradise Beach residents filled about 150 potholes.

“Several volunteers assist us over weekends, with some taking time off from work to assist during the week,” he said.

“Nearly 2000 litres of sealing tar and 58 tons of compact stone and tar mix, all provided by the municipality, have already been used to repair the craters and potholes.”

Wiehahn said the agreement with the municipality had come after months of negotiations.

“The reality is that we have to make alternative plans as the municipality simply doesn’t have the funds to do this,” he said.

“We all pay rates and taxes, but we realised after years of complaining that the only way was for us to take up the cause ourselves.”

Last week, volunteers filled more than 500 potholes and craters – some up to 12m long and 30cm deep.

“It was a learning curve for all of us. We stopped counting after we got to 500,” Wiehahn said.

“We started repairing the main roads first as they were in such a state that people’s cars were being damaged.

“We also decided to remove overgrown bushes which were growing onto the roads.

“Residents have donated a front- end loader, tractor and chainsaws for the bush-clearing exercise, which will probably end up being a continuous project.”

He said the operation coincided with the expected influx of tourists over the festive season.

“Our efforts will hopefully allow visitors to enjoy a pleasant stay and a safe motoring experience when visiting our little coastal town,” Wiehahn said.

The second initiative, run by the Jeffreys Bay chapter of AfriForum, started last week.

Chairman Frikkie Sutherland said the group had contracted a subcontractor to fill the holes in “problematic areas of Jeffreys Bay”.

“The municipality is giving us the mix and tar,” Sutherland said.

“To date, we have raised about R30000 and have since fixed about 200 potholes, which accounts for about 70m².”

The project aims to cover the entire Jeffreys Bay district.

“We will do as much as we can,” he said.

“This came about after several [Afriforum] members complained about the road surfaces and cars being damaged.

“Last week, my front tyre was gutted by a pothole.”

Retired electrical engineer Jannie Kruger, 65, said: “Hopefully, we are setting an example here that will inspire other communities to do the same thing.”

Former music teacher Joey Bezuidenhout, who helped fill in the potholes, said she loved the town and wanted to see it look better.

“This is why we now have to cut back all the overgrown bushes that hang onto the roads. Not only is it a fire risk, it is also a security risk.”

Former journalist-turned-novelist Annekie Heyns said the project came with challenges, which had led to residents standing together.

“At the end of the day, we want to show the world that it is possible,” she said.

Kouga municipality spokeswoman Laura-Leigh Randall said the tar and gravel roads in the Kouga region had taken a “bad beating” from the large amount of rain during winter.

“The summer holiday season is important to Kouga,” she said.

“We were concerned that we would not be able to fix all the potholes ahead of the festive season.

“We are very grateful to the Paradise Beach Neighbourhood Watch and Afriforum for coming on board to help us fast-track repairs.”

Asked why the municipality had not repaired the roads, Randall said: “The main challenge is time. We would like to have all the work done by the start of the holiday.

“We have the material, but not enough staff to get to all the places in time for the festive-season rush.”


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