Bonteheuwel residents hope the new year will usher in long-awaited repairs to their community’s cracked and potholed roads, but a lot will depend on whether contractors feel safe working in a neighbourhood rife with gangsterism.
Road repairs were on the agenda of the Sub-council 5 meeting on Wednesday January 20, and ward councillor Angus McKenzie said a R69 million project would start in the second half of the year and likely be completed in 2022.
The project should have started last year, but one of the contractors had been liquidated and another had pulled out after being intimidated by gangs in the area, he said.
The project would create many job opportunities in the neighbourhood, Mr McKenzie said.
“We have done our best to cover up potholes. This year we will focus on keeping our contractors safe to ensure that they are not threatened and intimated by gangs again. Our community is working with us to ensure that the safety of the contractors is in place.“
This is not the first time Bonteheuwel has heard promises to fix the roads. Resident Bradley Benjamin said the community had been waiting for road repairs for more than four years. He had replaced two car tyres because of potholes and cracks in the uneven roads, he said.
“The roads in Kameeldoring and Keurboom Streets are the worst. Our children can’t play in the roads, and our cars get damaged. When it rains, those potholes fill up with water and it ends up in a flood, and we have to drive through that. Last year, I had to get out of my car during heavy rain and help an old lady push her car out of a flooded pothole. This is not fair.“
Abie Clayton, chairman of the Community of Bonteheuwel Association, said the residents deserved better roads. Their cars’ suspensions, tyres and wheel rims were suffering frequent damage. Rain also filled potholes in the pavements, especially in Bitterblaar Street, and people had to wear gumboots to walk to work.
“The roads are dangerous so I am so glad that the project will finally be happening,“ he said. ”Jakkalsvlei Avenue and Bonteheuwel Avenue are the worst and Keurboom as well. The potholes are getting bigger by the day.“
Bishop Lavis police spokesman Warrant officer Joseph Swartbooi said contractors should report incidents of intimidation to the police as officers could not be deployed to specific areas to protect them.
“According to my knowledge, no contractor reported intimidation from gangs last year, but I urge them to report it if it happens. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough manpower to be present at construction sites permanently.“