Poor service delivery has caused local communities in the former Transkei to take out their frustrations on tourists. This is giving the Eastern Province a very bad name. The state of the R61-road between Magusheni and Fort Donald in the former Transkei has led to violence as angry mobs are now known to block the route to Kokstad, making driving impossible and dangerous. On Monday, 21 May, I was informed of three incidents where tourists had to turn back or had their car window smashed. The police in Kokstad confirmed that there had been “a couple” of similar incidents.
People are unhappy with a lack of service delivery and because the government does not listen to their needs. The DA believes that excellent service delivery is critical in ensuring that our citizens and visitors to our country can enjoy an environment that is safe and which allows for the opportunity for a better life.
The Democratic Alliance urges the Department of Roads and Public Works to prioritise access roads as a key priority.
I have written to the MEC for Roads and Public Works, Thandiswa Marawu, to investigate the problem with the R61. I urge her to find an urgent solution.
In the words of one tourist, Mrs. Phillida Ellis, “we came across an angry and very aggressive crowd of people and were warned to turn back by a motorist who had tried to drive through and had been threatened. The protestors told him they were demonstrating because they did not have a tarred road”.
Later, on the way to Kokstad near Fort Donald, Mrs. Ellis and her husband came across a broken down car and a man desperately trying to flag down motorists. It was a German tourist couple, Dr. Herbert Plum and his wife, who had encountered the demonstrators and had their hire car’s window smashed with rocks and batons. They had been forced off the road through the veld and in doing so had damaged the underside of the car which ground to a halt at Ford Donald. Mrs. Plum was severely traumatised and could not stop crying. While they were there tourists from Gauteng also stopped. They had the front window of their Toyota Fortuner shattered.
It is these types of incidents that cause irreparable damage to the image of our country and our province. Who can blame these people if they never visit our province again and advise their friends never to set foot here. I am also concerned that the tourists did not see any police from near or on the way to the scene of the protest.
Our aim is to encourage tourists to visit our province but such incidents will achieve the opposite. One cannot calculate the damage in potential income from only one such incident.