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Free State farmers asked to repair provincial roads at own cost

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With Free State roads becoming increasingly unsurpassable, road repairs and maintenance in the Free State have almost stalled to a halt. According to Francois Wilken, President of Free State Agriculture (FSA), the organisation has repeatedly made requests to the Free State provincial government to attend to the growing crisis.

This week the Minister for Transport, Fikile Mbalula, announced that funds for road maintenance have dried up. These budgetary constraints were confirmed during a meeting with the Free State MEC of Police Roads and infrastructure. “FSA was asked to assist the department in fixing the roads, but that the department could not recompense farmers for their expenses”.

“This means that government cannot attend to their service delivery responsibilities, whilst bureaucrats in the Free State provincial roads department will still receive their salaries”, Wilken said.

“At this point there is a real possibility that the Free States’ local and provincial road network can collapse within the next few years. This will cut millions of people off from basic and critical services”. The following roads face collapse:

  • The R30 which is a major route linking Welkom and Bothaville, Klerksdorp and Orkney.
  • The (R711) Clarens & Ficksburg roads. These are gateway routes to major tourism and agri-tourism destinations and trade with Lesotho.
  • The Ficksburg-Fouriesburg road (R26). Dubbed as the worst road in the province. The R34 between Memel and Bothaspas is not far behind – contractors have stopped working there as they are not being paid.
  • R34, R59 & R505 – Wesselsbron, Makwassie and Hoopstad roads

Maintaining our national road network is a constitutional obligation of the Roads Department for which they receive budget from national treasury and funded by tax payers’ money.

  • What is government doing with the road fuel levy which is supposed to be ring-fenced for repairs to roads?
  • Why will the provincial department not provide us with their road maintenance plans and budgets?

These are the types of questions we need to get answers on.

“Even though our members are not road builders, FSA has always been willing to work with the provincial government, however BEE and affirmative action legislation and requirements is the major obstacle in preventing farmers, contactors and communities to assist in resolving the growing crisis”.