R35m road project exists only on paper
Vehicles using the roads in these villages run up punishing maintenance and repair bills, and drivers of sedans use the road at their peril, in places having to drive at less than 40km/h
TWO months after Sowetan exposed how the lack of proper roads in four villages in Limpopo affected villagers, it has emerged that R35-million had been budgeted in the last financial year to upgrade roads in these areas.
Sowetan has learnt that an official from the Limpopo roads and transport department has been suspended for allegedly mismanaging funds meant to upgrade roads in these villages.
Villagers from Spitspunt, Malebitsa, Tshikannoshi and Driefontein in the province's Moutse area are up in arms, demanding answers.
In official documents the Ephraim Mogale municipality - under whose jurisdiction the four villages fall - claims the completion of access roads at a cost of R35-million in their villages.
However, this achievement exists only on paper, as the roads in these villages are unusable.
The information, which has been submitted to the provincial government in Polokwane, was entered by mistake according to the municipality.
A resident, Mafolo Bogopa, said: "We were shocked when we discovered that money had been allocated to fix our roads but this has not happened."
He said before the area was taken from Mpumalanga to Limpopo in 2005, they pleaded with the government to fix their roads but their requests fell on deaf ears.
"Our concern was that before our area was placed under Limpopo, Mpumalanga was busy upgrading roads but the project came to a halt because of this change.
"Up until now nothing has happened regarding the continuation of the project," he said.
In March this year, residents told Sowetan that summer rains frequently make roads all but impassable, while in winter they generate constant choking dust.
Villagers said they were happy on March 8 2010 when the then transport MEC Pinky Kekana made an announcement regarding construction of their roads.
The roads were not built and Kekana repeated the same announcement on March 29 2011.
"Before the 2011 municipal elections, a steering committee was established to facilitate the construction of the road. Until today, the project has still not started," said another resident, Steve Mmakola.
He said they were shocked when the latest consultation meetings booklet of the municipality indicated the completion of a R20-million access road between Tshikannoshi and Malebitsa as well as R15-million to upgrade the 7km road from Malebitsa to Driefontein.
Mmakola said: "As you can see, our roads are in a bad state and we are forced to use a poor excuse for a road."
Vehicles using the roads in these villages run up punishing maintenance and repair bills, and drivers of sedans use the road at their peril, in places having to drive at less than 40km/h.
Ephraim Mogale municipal spokesman Jan Phasha confirmed that the booklet indicated that a total of R35-million had been spent upgrading roads in Moutse and said the information appeared "by mistake".
"It was our plan to upgrade these roads but this could not happen due to unforeseen circumstances," Phasha said. - firstname.lastname@example.org
- This article was first published yesterday, 21 May 2012, in the Sowetan printed newspaper