There appears to be a complete financial collapse for the Department of Roads and Public Works’ road maintenance budget for the 2016 financial year in the Kouga and Koukamma area, which has a devastating influence on the economic drivers of these two municipalities. This will result in job losses if not rectified immediately.
At present, an amount of around R 75 million has been diverted from the road maintenance budget for the Sarah Baartman District area (Kouga, Koukamma, Baviaans, Ikwezi, Camdeboo, Blue Crane, Sundays River Valley, Ndlambe and Makana Municipalities) to supplement the Provinces over-commitment on capital projects in other district municipal areas.
The general road maintenance programme has ground to a halt this year. Since the start of the financial year in April 2015, some roads and areas damaged by flash flooding have only been maintained through disaster or emergency intervention funding.
The recent fires in Kouga are partly the consequences of poor road reserve maintenance, as well as a lack of bush clearing.
It was virtually impossible for the fire engines and other support vehicles to turn on the R330 and the overgrown verges were conducive to the spreading of the fires.
The road marking on tar or surface roads are also a safety aspect which must be addressed because the lines on the road are not clear and will be a certain safety issue in heavy rain.
“It is now the third year running that the provincial department has not put out road maintenance tenders in time and this calls for an investigation as to why in the past two years, money was returned to national treasury as not utilised by the department, said Elza Van Lingen, the leader of the DA in Kouga.
“The lack of funding for maintenance is not just affecting the economic drivers such as agriculture and tourism. It has severe impact on the social support services such as health, access to social services, scholar transport, police services,” said Van Lingen.
The Democratic Alliance is investigating the current collapse of financial support for road maintenance programmes in the SBDM.
Vicky Knoetze, DA MPL has undertaken to call for a proper investigation on the department of roads and public works’ projects in each district municipality – how on time and over budget both the maintenance and capital projects are.
“We will also investigate the financial management of the department and the Eastern Cape as a province.
The DA will call for an urgent programme shift to top up and service the roads in Kouga, Koukamma and the Sarah Baartman District Municipality,” added Van Lingen.