Years of neglect leave NC roads knee-deep in sewage

Issued by Cilliers Brink MP – DA Shadow Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs
10 May 2022 in News

Please find attached a soundbite in English and Afrikaans by Cilliers Brink MP. See pictures of the oversight at the R31 here and here, as well as an earlier picture of the engulfed R31 here. Additionally, see pictures of the oversight to the N12 with sewage on the shoulder of the road in the suburb of Minerva Gardens and sewage in the veld stretching all the way to the suburb of Southridge here and here.

The DA demands that national government intervenes in Sol Plaatje’s collapsing water and sewerage infrastructure. The situation has deteriorated to such an extent that a provincial road (R31) has been closed to all traffic for health reasons and a national road (N12) is heading the same way.

An oversight inspection of the R31 today by myself, Delmaine Christians MP, NCOP member, and Harold McGluwa, Provincial Leader, revealed the extent of the disaster that was caused by almost two decades worth of a lack of municipal infrastructure maintenance.

We were prevented from getting to where the flooding has occurred as the road has been closed to all traffic for health reasons. Since 2004, unattended sewage leaks from the Gogga Pump Station, combined with freshwater leaks from the Riverton mainline, were allowed to slowly fill up four pans alongside the R31, crossing the road and engulfing it from either side.

Provincial government watched this crisis unfold but did nothing to prevent it until January this year when they embarked on a R32 million construction project to broaden and uplift the affected portion of the road. Their efforts were in vain, as the road was completely flooded on 16 April 2022.

If the right people are not put in place to permanently address the current engineering gap, then any money spent will be wasted.

While the Department of Roads and Public Works continues to pursue this project, with additional costs due to the emergency measures, there are concerns about the sustainability of the multi-million rand attempt to save the R31.

In 2019, repairs to 14 water leaks were short-lived as new leaks formed, exposing the vulnerabilities of the expired Sol Plaatje infrastructure, that requires a complete overhaul as opposed to ad hoc repairs, as are taking place this weekend.

If the leaks, that are causing the lake to rise by 40 mm per day, are not stopped once and for all, further attempts to lower water levels by digging a trench to divert the water to another dry pan further along the R31, will be futile, as this pan will also eventually fill up and flood the road.

In addition, other roads, most notably the national N12 road, could suffer a similar fate. Once again, provincial government is well aware of this looming threat that has already resulted in the stopping of trains due to water flowing below the road channel.

Our site inspections on the N12, revealed a mix of sewage and fresh water is threatening to place this National road to Cape Town in the same position as the flooded R31.

It is for this reason that the DA will pose a question to Deputy President David Mabuza on Thursday during a plenary of the National Council of Provinces. Given his previous commitment to chair the inter-ministerial task team that was established to oversee the repairs of the R31, Delmaine Christians will ask him to accompany her to the R31 and the sites of the other looming road disasters.

Kimberley is drowning in Sol Plaatje’s ongoing indifference towards infrastructure maintenance, that sees the municipality losing 64% of its freshwater to leaks. It is time for Government to put its money where its mouth is and repair the leaks. The people of the Northern Cape deserve better.