Free State farmers plead for roads to be repaired after flooding

Ernest Mabuza Journalist
Free State Agriculture has asked the provincial roads department to ensure that roads are repaired after flooding which damaged some roads and made some bridges impassable. File photo.
Free State Agriculture has asked the provincial roads department to ensure that roads are repaired after flooding which damaged some roads and made some bridges impassable. File photo.
Image: Christian Delbert / 123rf.com

Agricultural association Free State Agriculture has asked the province's police, roads and transport department to ensure that the province's roads are repaired after flooding in the past two weeks.

FSA also appealed to the department to declare the areas affected by floods as disaster areas, to make available resources to assist in the repair of the roads.

The request follows flooding in the province since the beginning of the year, which has resulted in many roads and bridges being washed away or rendered impassable.

The agricultural association claimed that in recent years, roads in the province have been very poorly maintained.

FSA said there was a breakdown in critical infrastructure required for continued economic activity in rural areas. It said farmers would increasingly find it difficult to transport produce to markets.

It said the increased immobility was placing the lives and livelihoods of whole communities in danger.

Many poor people, for example, were not able to access medical care. Farm workers were also finding it increasingly challenging to travel to and from work.

“Left unattended, farm dwellers such as pensioners and schoolchildren will not be able to access services ... and clinics and ambulances will not be able to access farms to deliver chronic medicine and transport critically ill patients,” FSA president Francois Wilken said.

Wilken said farmers had already started to repair roads where critical.

He said FSA would need financial and material support to stave off further disaster.

Wilken said there was an urgent request for equipment, such as graders and tractor loader backhoes (TLBs), to be made available.

The FSA said material such as bitumen/tar, concrete, culvert pipes and diesel for farmers’ equipment doing the repairs were needed.

Wilken said in March 2019, after floods near Rouxville in Mohokare, it took three months to get the local council to declare a local disaster to unlock funding from the roads department to repair impassable roads.

He said nearly two years later, and with a disaster declaration in place, these roads were still not properly repaired.

With massive downpours, the little gravel left on the roads would wash away.

“Hence, FSA appeals to political heads to speed up the disaster declaration process and unlocking of resources to assist our rural dwellers.”

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