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Ficksburg community forum, Sechaba sa Ficksburg, have closed all routes through Ficksburg since 06:00 AM on Wednesday, March 17th 2021. They will maintain the closure until they receive a satisfactory response from government to their letter, directed to the Premier of the Free State, Ms Sisi Ntombela. The letter, delivered on March 2nd, demanded an urgent meeting on the provision of services and maintenance of infrastructure, in order to avert further action.
The forum represents various local bodies, including FITA (Ficksburg Taxi Association), AFASA (African Farmers’ Association of South Africa), agricultural business OVK, Setsoto Youth Development, Ficksburg Commonage Tenants, and the Ficksburg Agricultural Association.
“The fact that communities need to close roads in order to get the attention of government is outrageous and shameful on the part of the government. The government will need to take note of communities’ objections, because everyone has a constitutional right to basic services and the failure to maintain infrastructure deprives people of this right,” says Francois Wilken, president of Free State Agriculture (FSA). Wilken believes it is positive that communities are standing together. “We support the community of Ficksburg and will continue to put pressure on government to perform their duties as enshrined in our Constitution.”
According to Friedl von Maltitz, regional representative of FSA, the forum decided to take action “due to the unsatisfactory response from Government.” Their action has consisted in obstructing the R26/R70 junction (Rosendal T-Junction), R26/S444 Junction (Owanti turn-off) and the R26/S67 Junction with taxi’s and various agricultural equipment. Von Maltitz says that the heavy rains in the beginning of the year after many dry years, was the final blow to the already fragile roads infrastructure. “This resulted in our roads infrastructure throughout the Free State finally giving in after years of requests, letters and meetings with roads personnel not resulting in any meaningful action. Local communities have had enough. They are uniting and peacefully taking matters into their own hands.”