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Inwoners van Swellendam spreek hul kommer uit oor die huidige stand van ons paaie, asook die regmaak van slaggate

Swellendam slaggate in paaie
Written by Elana Theunissen

Uitvoerende Burgemeester, Francois du Rand, beantwoord die vele vrae rondom die dorp en instandhouding van ons paaie.

Vanaand, om 18:00, is die geskeduleerde ‘SMAF (Swellendam Municipal Forum)’ vergadering by die stadsaal.  Wys jou betrokkenheid en woon by!  Hierdie is jou geleentheid om vrae te vra aan die regte (verantwoordelike) persone.

“Dear Residents of Swellendam

Status of Swellendam Municipality’s Road network

Over the last five years, we have received many queries, concerns, complaints, and criticism about the status of our road infrastructure. I am writing this open letter to address these issues and concerns formally, bring residents up to speed on the situation, and provide information on the facts and background.

The Swellendam Municipal area has 86km of paved road systems, including tar and segmented paving. The estimated replacement value is approximately R260 million, and the average condition is rated as fair and some beyond the designed life expectancy.

The estimated funding backlog in operation and maintenance (maintenance and resurfacing) is around R80 million and escalates yearly. A quarter (25%) of the surfacing and structural component of the system is in poor to deplorable condition.

Our typical roads in Swellendam Municipality have a road surface life of about ten years. To protect the integrity of a road, a road must be resealed after 8-10 years. However, maintenance must also be conducted on areas where potholes have formed, burst pipelines have been repaired, and new services have been installed.

Suppose the resealing of the road is not done at the right time. In that case, it will lead to ‘’surface failure’’ and ‘’structural failure’’, which means the road will have to be rehabilitated (rebuild the road’s foundation layers. The surface protects the layer and keeps the layer and keeps the layer road’s foundation waterproof). From 2013 to 2018, no funds were available for resealing roads. Many of our streets have already reached the ‘point of no return’ and will require intensive rehabilitation to re-establish the original design standard.

Our Department of Roads and Stormwater uses the ‘RRAMS’ (Rural Road Asset Management System) set up by SMEC Consulting Engineers for Swellendam Municipality to determine the priorities for resealing roads.

For all towns, Swellendam Municipality’s budget allocation toward the road and stormwater repairs and maintenance from its funds for the last seven years amounted to R22 189 832.

Financial year Total budget

2015/2016                                     R2 052 500

2016/2017                                     R2 429 000

2017/2018                                    R2 836 230

2018/2019                                    R3 524 178

2019/2020                                     R3 475 510

2020/2021                                   R3 978 821

2021/2022                                   R3 893 593

2022/2023 – Draft budget       R4 097 766

Moorreesburg Skaarland Swellendam

Most of the time, balancing the budget over the last seven years removes money from the repairs and maintenance vote to ensure that essential services continue uninterrupted.

We also receive a yearly conditional grant allocation from MIG (Municipal Infrastructure Grant) of around R11 million, which must be used to address the backlog in water, sanitation, and electricity services and stormwater and road infrastructure in previously neglected areas and communities. With some of this money, we can build roads and install stormwater networks in Railton and Smithville, where gravel roads have existed since 1994.

When funds are depleted in the budget vote for road repair and maintenance in a particular budget year, no repairs can occur until savings from budgeted expenditure can be reallocated in an approved adjustment budget at the end of February each year. If other critical priorities need urgent funds in the adjustment budget, the probability of the road repair and maintenance receiving any extra money is unlikely.

If there is no more money in the budget for road repairs (whether resealing, potholes, or planned maintenance), it will not be possible to spend on these repairs.

With all this as the background, it is clear that road maintenance in Swellendam Municipality is one of our biggest challenges. With our limited financial and human resources in this department and the legislative framework, local governments operate, balancing priorities with our available income from rates and taxes is a constant battle.

What is the status of the road repair and maintenance budget vote for the 2021/2022 budget cycle, and what other alternative is employed?

  • All funds approved for road repairs and maintenance are depleted
  • We managed to reallocate R200 000 in the adjustment budget, which was used to purchase bitumen (tar) and other necessary materials.
  • We have recently started filling all potholes with a gravel mixture in the interim to provide some driving relief.

After the new pipeline and pressure management system installation, when will the roads be fixed?

The contractor is in the final phase of assembling and replacing a large part of the water pipe network and installing pressure zones and valves to manage and reduce pipe breaks. Only after the completion of the total project will the road be reinstated. The project is currently behind schedule, and the completion date has been moved to the end of June.

We have put the consulting engineers and contractor on terms. We will report them to the National and Provincial Treasury and the Department of Water and Sanitation (which made the project funds available) if they don’t finalise and hand over the project within the new timeframe.

We all share your frustration in this matter, and we are doing everything possible to guarantee that this project is finished to the correct standard.

So, what is Swellendam Municipality going to do about the challenges we face regarding road repair and maintenance in the long term?

The Executive Leadership are currently compiling a 5-year project plan to address the backlog of road repair and maintenance. This entails investigating all options, funding mechanisms and rebalancing priorities to make as much headway in the next 5-years as possible in delivering industry-standard road infrastructure.

To grow our tax base and economy and unlock opportunities for all, we are embarking on the intensive upgrading and development of infrastructure to increase capacity to accommodate growth and development. Keep in mind that this will go hand in hand with some disruption and discomfort to all our residents. We endeavour to make this process as painless as possible but cannot guarantee that challenges will not arise during this process.

For Swellendam Municipality to be successful, we need to strengthen our partnership between Council, the Administration, and the Community. We need an active citizenry to overcome the legacy of the past, address the current challenges, and determine our future for generations to come.

Active citizenship means people getting involved in their local communities and democracy at all levels, from towns to cities to nationwide activity. Active citizenship can be as small as a campaign to clean up your street or as big as educating young people about democratic values, skills, and participation. Active citizenship is one of the most important steps toward healthy societies. ‘’

As Mayor, I will shortly be launching an ‘’I AM … CAMPAIGN’’. This campaign is premised on the fact that all of us have rights as residents, but along with these rights come various responsibilities.

The ‘I AM SWELLENDAM, I AM BARRYDALE, I AM SUURBRAAK AND BUFFELJAGSRIVIER, and I AM MALGAS, INFANTA and STORMSVLEI’ is a campaign designed to promote and motivate active and invested citizenry in all our towns. ‘How do you/I become an active citizen?’ By not just asking what the Municipality can do for me, but what can I contribute to the progression and growth of the municipality and its residents, in any small or big way.

Yours in service delivery, Francois du Rand | Executive Mayor”

About the author

Elana Theunissen

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