Schaapkraal’s gravel roads turn into a muddy mess when it rains, and countless potholes are damaging vehicles, say residents who want the roads tarred.
“Over the course of two decades, residents have consistently expressed their concerns and sought assistance with roads and infrastructure in the greater Schaapkraal area, which encompasses Schaapkraal, Knole Park, Highlands, and approximately 19 informal settlements within this region,” said Riyad Isaac, deputy chairman of the Schaapkraal Ratepayers’ Association.
The mostly gravel roads in the area were hard to navigate after wet weather, and they caused “significant damage to vehicles”, he said, adding that residents were paying tens of thousands of rand to fix damaged shocks and undercarriages and replace wheels and tyres.
“By providing durable and properly maintained road infrastructure, we can improve accessibility, enhance safety, and mitigate the financial strain on residents and ensure a better quality of life for all,” he said.
The community had been waiting since May 11 for the City’s roads department to tar Second Avenue and fix the potholes, he said, adding, “The only response received thus far is an assurance that the matter will be escalated.”
Ra’ees Ameeroedien, of Vlei Road, said the roads had been in a “terrible state” even before the flooding caused by the rains. “I bought the car last year. I noticed that over the course of driving through here, the suspension is completely messed up. My brother’s, mother’s and father’s cars’ and bakkies’ suspensions were also damaged.”
And when municipal road workers graded the gravel road to flatten the potholes they did so when the road was still deluged, leaving behind a “muddy mess”, he said.
“Visitors don’t want to come visit us because of how bad the road is. One friend had to be dropped off at the end of the road and he had to walk down to come to my house.”
Ra’ees’s father, Ebrahim Ameeroedien, said: “We had very poor service and seemed totally ignored by the City. It was disturbing to see pedestrians clinging to fencing along the road to keep out of the water.
He added: “Our septic tanks flooded and the toilets were out of service. And now presently once again due to the high water table, our animals had to be removed from the barn, and we lost quite a few chickens. A vacant plot next to us looks like a dam. My neighbours are pumping water out of their properties daily. We spoke to a few City officials, but it seemed like it was falling on deaf ears.”
Abbas Gamieldien, who has lived in Kraal Road for 13 years, said potholes had become a norm in the area, and the rains made them worse.
“It becomes so unbearable that our vehicles get damaged, and the cost for repairs hurts our pockets so badly. It now becomes part of our budget.
“Our family refuse to use our road, and we end up having to meet up with them on the corner. There are certain areas where potholes are no longer visible which are covered with water. Now it becomes not only a problem but dangerous too.
“Why are we paying rates and not getting the proper service, no tar and street lights?”
Mayoral committee member for urban mobility Rob Quintas said most of the roads were gravel because Schaapkraal and surrounds had developed from mostly agricultural or semi-rural areas, but the City was tarring the roads in phases, and, to date, the City’s roads department had upgraded six gravel roads and was planning on upgrading two more during this financial year.
“It is our intention to upgrade all of these roads to asphalt surfaced roads.”
Mr Quintas said permanent repairs to potholes needed prolonged periods of dry weather.
“Existing earth channels are cleaned and roads graded by external contractors twice per year,” he said, adding that the same work was also done by the roads department’s depot teams.
“It is important to note that given these roads are rural, there is no stormwater system. In addition to that, some of the private homes have filled the existing drainage channels running through their properties, which exacerbates ponding water as the rainfall has nowhere to go other than to drain into gravel.”