Roads need fix not patch-ups, say IY leaders

Imizamo Yethu leaders have turned down the City of Cape Town’s offer for temporary repairs until the main construction project can kick off at a later stage.

The broken roads in Imizamo Yethu need a full overhaul, not more temporary patch-ups, say community leaders who met with City officials last week about the problem.

The poor state of the township’s roads and drains has led to growing anger in the area, and last month, residents demanding action burnt tyres in the streets and blocked the traffic circle near the Hout Bay police station (“IY residents vent their road rage,” Sentinel News, September 17, 2021).

The community leaders were cautiously optimistic after meeting with the officials last week but were firm about not wanting to see any more temporary repairs.

“We don’t want temporary repairs because the City must make temporary repairs permanent. Otherwise they keep on having to come back and fix the same problems,” said community leader Kenny Tokwe.

The City, he said, had proposed starting with temporary repairs last week but the IY leaders had declined saying they would rather wait for the City’s proposed community-wide road-construction project set to start tomorrow, Saturday October 2, and run until December.

“We as the IY community didn’t agree with the plan for temporary fixing, as we learnt from our experience that temporary becomes a permanent problem for the community. We want construction of roads and we are prepared to wait for October 2.”

According to the City, the project will start with a contractor installing underground drainage. More permanent work includes repairs to kerbs, channels and pavements and the resurfacing of NR Mandela and Oliver Tambo roads and the traffic circle at the entrance to IY.

Samkelo Krweqe, from the South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO), said he had left last week’s meeting not entirely happy.

“They came up with temporary measures to try and get rid of the problem we are having in IY. So we are happy, but not entirely, because we would have loved to see them starting sooner than the date we agreed on.”

Imizamo Yethu resident, Jonas Mlambo, said the poor state of the neighbourhood’s roads was an “age-old issue” and the community’s hopes for improvements had been frequently dashed.

“I only hope they do not disappoint our people again because we have heard promises in the past and saw very little happening. Just fix the roads in IY one time and do a proper job of it. Instead, they fix here and there and it ends up breaking everywhere.”

“Our people are becoming fed up, and I fear there will be war if they do not get what they have been asking for, for all these years.”

In 2017, City officials did a walkabout of Imizamo Yethu to inspect the roads project falling under the municipality’s transport and urban development authority. The R40-million project included the redesign, reconstruction and upgrade of up to 31 roads in Imizamo Yethu, Ocean View and Kommetjie and was scheduled to be completed at the end of May in 2017 (“Progress on IY road upgrade,” Sentinel News, April 13, 2017).

Roberto Quintas, the mayoral committee member for transport and Hout Bay’s ward councillor, called last week’s meeting “fruitful”.

The IY leaders, he said, had been told that the City’s Hout Bay roads depot, supported by the Fish Hoek depot, would, in coming weeks, do ongoing maintenance, as needed, to improve the surfaces of some of Imizamo Yethu’s worst roads.

“It is our intention to host a public open day where the public and residents can get more information about the temporary and permanent works. The date and venue will be announced once the details have been confirmed.”

Mr Quintas said City officials had told the community leaders at last week’s meeting that their support would be needed if the road project was to be completed as soon as possible. Furthermore, disruptions and disputes would delay the work; discharging greywater on the roads should be avoided as should littering and dumping in the stormwater system as it caused flooding; blockages of stormwater inlets along roads should be cleared or reported to the City; and community leaders should inform the residents about how roads can be protected and their lifespan prolonged.

The project would benefit not only the minibus-taxi operators, but all residents of IY, Mr Quintas added.

Some more temporary repairs were done last year, but locals say the repairs make the problem worse.