DA escalates petition to have Nieu-Bethesda road tarred

DA Shadow MEC for Roads, Vicky Knoetze (right) is handed a petition by Die Waenhuis wedding venue owners Jaques Muller and Justin Duckitt, to have the 2.3km stretch of dirt road to Nieu Bethesda tarred.

The Democratic Alliance in the Eastern Cape received a petition from residents of Nieu-Bethesda regarding the condition of the provincial road leading into the town.  This week I submitted the petition to the Petitions Committee of the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature for investigation.

The tourist town of Nieu-Bethesda in the Dr Beyers Naude Municipality is only accessible by way of two provincial dirt roads. The primary road, from the N9, has been the subject of many problems for visitors and residents of this major Karoo tourist attraction.

The 2.3 km stretch of dirt road between De Toren and Sam’s Drift is in a poor state.  It is riddled with sharp rocks and potholes that it is having a major negative effect on tourists visiting the town. Residents and tourists have to replace tyres on a daily basis.

The owners of popular Karoo wedding venue Die Waenhuis, Jacques Muller and Justin Duckitt, and Ward 2 Councillor, Linda Botha, started a petition to the MEC of Roads and Public Works, Tandiswa Marawu to highlight the plight of the community.  The primary objective is to have the 2.3km of road tarred. A total of 208 people signed the petition.  After the DA was approached for assistance,  I travelled to Nieu-Bethesda last week, where the petition was handed to me.

Rural road users in the province are desperate to have their roads fixed. This type of effort by residents to make their voices heard is becoming more and more prevalent.  This comes shortly after the Agri-EC Court Case in which the Department of Roads was ordered to repair rural roads in the Eastern Cape.

The Department clearly does not have the capacity or the funds to perform in terms of their cornerstone Transport Programme, which is meant to develop and maintain the roads network. In fact, there is an R102-billion backlog on road maintenance in the Eastern Cape.

Roads are the veins that connect communities to opportunities for economic development.  Without them, the jobs that our people so desperately need will remain a dream under the current government.

One will never make a sizeable dent in the R102-billion backlog unless one embraces new techniques and innovative cost saving measures.  A proposal of mine for the use of alternative road surfacing was recently accepted in the provincial legislature. — Vicky Knoetze MPL, Shadow MEC for Roads and Public Works