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Various organisations and bodies from the Ficksburg community gathered on 2 March with one common goal, namely to address the dire state of roads in the area. A letter directed by the meeting to the Premier of the Free State, Ms Sisi Ntombela, insists on an urgent meeting within 7 days to prevent further action.
According to Friedl Von Maltitz, Setsoto’s regional representative of Free State Agriculture (FSA), the Ficksburg Agricultural Association together with the Imperani Agricultural Association, which represent emerging farmers in the area, took the initiative to involve all the role players in the area. The meeting, attended by members of inter alia FITA (Ficksburg Taxi Association), AFASA, OVK, Setsoto Youth Development, Ficksburg Commonage Tenants, etc. decided to establish a forum known as ‘Sechaba sa Ficksburg’.
“The farmers are upset about the condition of roads, but we have only now realized how far it also affects the rest of the community.” says von Maltitz. “Taxi drivers’ income is in jeopardy, because certain routes are completely impassable.”
In the letter to the Premier that was jointly compiled by all members of the forum, it is clearly stated that the many promises by various civil servants, including the Premier, have not realized in the improvement and upgrading of roads in the district. The forum therefore urges a meeting with the Premier and officials responsible for the maintenance of the district’s roads. The forum also makes it clear that any funds allocated for the repair of roads should only be administered by the forum.
Last week, a petition with more than 2,000 signatures by residents of Lindley, Petrus Steyn and Arlington broader community was handed to the office of Sam Mashinini, Free State MEC for roads, police and transport, requesting urgent repairs to the R707.
Francois Wilken, President of Free State Agriculture (FSA), believes it is positive that communities stand together. “The government will need to take note of communities’ objections, because everyone has a constitutional right to basic services. However, the failure to maintain infrastructure deprives people of this right.”