The City of Johannesburg has declared a ‘war on potholes’, city mayor Herman Mashaba said.

The city said it has prioritised the repair of potholes around the city as there are thousands which are dangerous and disruptive. These were caused by several torrential downpours between November 2016 and January 2017.

Mashaba said that over the past year, the city has fixed 117,483 potholes, resulting in a significant increase of 26,945 or 22% more pothole repairs compared to the previous period (2015/2016). He also committed R88 million to fast-track the repair of failing road surfaces.

“I am delighted to confirm that through our positive interventions, the Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA), the city’s entity responsible for the maintenance of our roads, has resolved the crisis by working overtime on evenings and weekends, utilising R60 million for much needed pothole repair material and equipment,” Mashaba said. “The funds were also utilised in appointing contractors to supplement internal capacity to assist with the backlog.  Added to this, R28 million has been provided to recruit the 40% JRA road maintenance staff capacity shortages.”

Prior to these interventions, Mashba said the JRA was battling to keep up with increased service requests for pothole repairs following the heavy rains, however added that the interventions stabilised the situation.

“While the interventions have made a progressive impact on the quality of roads and public safety, pothole repairs are a short term fix to ensure the safety of all road users,” he said, adding that the resurfacing and/or reconstruction of roads remained the long-term solutions to improving the overall condition of the road network.

Mashaba explained that Johannesburg’s 13,428 km of roads infrastructure was ageing and has not been sufficiently maintained over many years.

“This means that potholes, which are a sign of failing surface and structural layers, will continue forming with each new rainy season,” he said. “While the current budget allocation for resurfacing and reconstruction does not fully address these backlogs, it is the intention of the city to gradually increase the budgets for these activities over time.”

In the weeks to come, the JRA will be releasing its latest study which includes a visual condition index of the state of the city’s roads. This will explain whether the condition of the roads is improving or deteriorating, project future road condition trends, determine maintenance and budgetary requirements, as well as inform prioritisation of maintenance projects such as resurfacing and rehabilitation.

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