'Pothole should have been repaired earlier'

A POTHOLE where a serious accident occurred on the Dundee-Greytown road should have been repaired urgently, a retired transportation professor told the Pietermaritzburg high court yesterday.

A POTHOLE where a serious accident occurred on the Dundee-Greytown road should have been repaired urgently, a retired transportation professor told the Pietermaritzburg high court yesterday.

The cost of repairing the large pothole would be about 15 times greater than if it had been repaired when it was still small, Alex Visser said.

The pothole, where the accident occurred in December 2004, was only repaired eight months ago, a Tugela Ferry mechanic, who towed the minibus taxi that overturned on hitting the pothole, told the court on Monday.

Visser was testifying for former Church of Scotland chef Hluphile Elda Zuma, 53, who lost a hand and part of her forearm as a result of the crash and is claiming compensation from the KwaZulu-Natal government. She also lost her job after the accident.

Visser said this type of road defect developed over a long time, starting small, growing gradually over months, if not years, and should have been fixed a long time ago.

"Pothole repair involves a standard procedure and is not difficult. Checks on road conditions should be done weekly and potholes reported at meetings.

"The hole should have been repaired urgently as it was between two bends. At least signs to warn drivers of it should have been erected," Visser told the court.

The taxi driver had moved into the right lane to go round the pothole but swerved left again to avoid an oncoming vehicle. He hit the pothole and the taxi overturned.

The KwaZulu-Natal government denies negligence and claims the sole cause of the accident was bad driving. It says it had acted within the available financial budget for road construction and maintenance.

The case continues today.

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