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Contractor eventually appointed for notorious R30 after 11 months

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As a result of the terrible condition of the R30 ‘death road’, nearly 25 people have lost their lives in recent months. Although Free State Agriculture (FSA) welcomes the eventual appointment of contractors (who will restore the R30), many lives could have been saved if the government had stepped in earlier.

Kempen Nel, chairman of the Infrastructure Committee of Free State Agriculture (FSA), says it is worrying that citizens’ lives are being put at risk as a result of bureaucratic red tape and consequent state decay.

Since January 2022’s floods, part of the R30 has been officially closed. However, warning signs and barriers were stolen and the road was used daily. Embankments were later thrown across the road which cut off farmers from grain silos. “The roads department has given permission to farmers to drive their tractors and trailers over the embankments in order to deliver their products.” says Uys van Heerden of Allanridge Agricultural Association.

The R22 million contract intends to repair a 300m stretch of road on the R30. Work was supposed to start from November 20, but it appears that the road will have to be completely closed during the repair period.  

FSA is concerned about the time-consuming process of hiring contractors. According to Dr. Jack Armour, commercial manager for FSA, 500 contractors applied for all the road tenders issued by the department and each of these must be physically approved by two committees. This is further complicated by cumbersome empowerment requirements which in the past have caused cadre contractors, who cannot do the work, to be appointed.

“FSA’s position remains that we would prefer the strategically important R30 road from Virginia to Orkney to be taken over by SANRAL, which has a much better record of maintaining roads than the provincial department of roads,” says Armour.