By Langa Bodlani MPL, DA Limpopo Spokesperson on Infrastructure:
The increasing spate of violent protests in reaction to failing road infrastructure in Limpopo can only mean one thing: Roads Agency Limpopo is failing to keep its promises and government isn’t keeping RAL to account.
I have today written to the chairperson of the portfolio committee on Public Works, Roads and Infrastructure, Ms. Snowy Kennedy-Monyemoratho to ask that MEC Jerry Ndou and Road Agency Limpopo head, Mr Matji, are summoned to appear before the committee and account for the state of Limpopo’s roads.
At the centre of these protests appears to be RAL’s broken promises around construction of certain priority roads in the province. With regards to the graveling of the Road D 1392 from Gamasha to Ga-Mampuru in Tubatse where there was violent protest recently, the blame seems to be pointing to RAL’s mismanagement of the project.
Engineering contractors who spoke to the DA have had their contracts summarily cancelled. This is after they have prepared the road designs which were submitted to RAL and were signed off with the communities. Even Premier Mathabatha promised this community that this road was to be completed as a matter of urgency.
However without any notice or explanation RAL issued a termination letter to the engineering company which was already contracted to upgrade Road D1392. The community is now left without a proper road. Even worse RAL is now exposed to litigation by this contractor, money which should be used for road construction.
Recently another protest took place between Namakgale and Ba-Phababorwa. Among the community’s demands are proper roads and speed humps.
RAL’s mismanagement is evidenced by the disdain of a manager in Roads Agency Limpopo, Mr Chisane. A meeting with him was on held on 16 July 2015 by the DA and the representatives of Ward 9 Development Forum of Chebeng outside of Seshego. A topic for discussion was the road which has been ignored for tarring for a number of years despite that it was designated as a priority road.
This community had also engaged in a violent protest before to get government’s attention on the condition of this road.
In the meeting with the DA, Mr Chisane undertook to send the update on the road by 17 July, but on that date nothing happened. A follow-up call to him on 21 July got more empty promises.
As these protests are happening RAL has seen it fit to put up costly billboards around the province to advertise itself. The one is on Mandela road to Seshego. It boggles the mind why this expensive exercise for publicity was undertaken, when communities are in dire need of proper roads which RAL is failing to deliver.
Proper roads infrastructure is essential for economic growth and the creation of jobs. RAL does not appear to be playing its critical role in this aspect. They must appear before the committee to explain how they are handling these roads protests.