South Africa’s deteriorating road infrastructure is fraught with dangers. One of the most cumbersome issues on the roads is an increasing number of potholes.
Sadly, local governments are often slow in fixing the situation. And falling very far behind with the maintenance of critical infrastructure can be difficult to catch up again, as seen with the backlog of 35 000 potholes only in the City of Cape Town.
What causes potholes and who is responsible for fixing them?
Research shows that the most common cause of potholes is the presence of water. But there are also a number of other cumulative aspects that add to the increased formation of these craters on roads.
Besides the quality of materials used, there are a number of other reasons which increase the likelihood of pothole formation. Some of these include high temperatures that cause cracks to form in tar roads and erosion due to high traffic and low maintenance.
So, who is responsible for fixing these potholes? The South African National Roads Agency SOC Ltd (SANRAL) is mainly responsible for the management and maintenance of the country’s proclaimed National Road network. Together with the department of transport, the Provincial Road Maintenance Grant (PRMG) is funded to assist with the fixing of potholes. According to Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, repairing potholes in South Africa costs an estimated R700 to R1,500 per square metre.
Major cities also have the resources to tackle the problem of potholes. For example, the Johannesburg Road Agency (JRA) and Transport for Cape Town (TCT) are well funded and trained for the task.
Pothole damages and who is responsible for reimbursement
Potholes are commonplace throughout South Africa and are often the cause of hefty repair bills, especially in cases where vehicles are underinsured. In the country, that’s around 65% of cars on the roads.
Hitting a pothole could result in damages to your car suspension, steering alignment, tyres, shocks and engine. These can all add up to substantial repair costs. The question arises, who is responsible for reimbursement?
Claims for damages from potholes are handled by SANRAL, which processes claims themselves or directs them to the specific contractor of the road. However, claims processing can take a very long time.
This is why many motorists turn to third-party assistance to help claim for pothole damage. Beame is a popular choice for this service. Beame specialises in wireless tracking device solutions but also offers the Pothole Assist service. Signing up for this service helps you claim back up to 100% of the costs incurred as a result of pothole damage to your vehicle’s tyres and rims.
Can you fix a pothole yourself?
Private companies are increasingly stepping in to assist in fixing potholes throughout the country. Private citizens and neighbourhood groups are also fixing road infrastructure. While it is legal to do so, many of these groups fund the operations out of their own pockets.
A few years ago, a High-Court ruling in the Eastern Cape, ordered the Provincial Roads Department to compensate private citizens who perform maintenance on roads themselves. However, it is important to note that the process of reimbursement may not be valid in all provinces and may be a lengthy process. Besides, no one really wants to forego the task of trying to get money out of the government.