Local news

Condition of rural roads hurts farmers

This threatens food security and the safety of delivery drivers who are forced to contend with dangerous roads.

It has been a torrid few months for the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) agricultural industry, which faces mounting pressures from every direction.

Aside from the much discussed loadshedding, minimum wage and expropriation bill issues, agriculture stakeholders are raising further concerns about road infrastructure quality.

According to the KZN Agricultural Union (Kwanalu), the state of rural roads has reached critical levels, which has stifled economic growth in the sector.

The issue was already affecting hundreds of farmers before the 2022 floods, but was naturally worsened as many routes were partially or completely closed.

An example is the washed away bridge on the P103 near Rain Farm which has still seen no official repair work undertaken.

A lack of proper grading leaves rural roads vulnerable to poor weather.
Photo: Kwanalu.

Community members had to raise funds for a temporary causeway which allowed farmers to cut out significantly longer alternative routes.

But elsewhere, non-graded roads and potholes have been enough to cause accidents and force farmers to spend extra funds to ensure they had outlets for delivery.

“Kwanalu conducted a roads survey in March 2022 which quantified that the severe lack of systemic road maintenance and the non-existence of upgrading of roads was hindering, and in some cases completely preventing, the collection and supply of goods and services to and from agricultural and rural areas,” said Kwanalu CEO, Sandy La Marque.

This has threatened food security and the safety of delivery drivers who are forced to contend with the dangerous roads.

Potholes are a countrywide issue, but delayed repairs in rural areas cause problems.
Photo: Kwanalu.

In response to a wider pothole issue countrywide, but including rural areas, Sanral launched a pothole reporting app called ‘Vala Zonke’.

It’s efficacy will certainly be tested in coming months, but Kwanalu said they were grateful to see Sanral responding to concerns.

“We thank Sanral for their progressive stance towards addressing the state of rural infrastructure in the country. We have been informed that all entries logged via the app will receive attention,” she said.

Kwanalu urged all those who use rural roads to use the app and report potholes and other road issues.

Search for ‘Vala Zonke’ on the Google Play or Apple App stores to download the app.

 

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