KNYSNA NEWS - "Non-stop pressure, badgering and ongoing public outcries from communities may be the best and only way to force the municipality into action and to address serious maintenance issues that affect residents.” So says a concerned Welbedacht, Knysna resident who was glad to hear that Welbedacht Lane will get some attention.
He says this is a direct result of years of pestering, whining and pursuing. “Now, finally all this hard work, done by many of us, has resulted in the municipality doing something,” He says he’d rather stay anonymous so as “not to stir where the pot is already boiling over. We don’t want to risk losing the little help we get.”
Over the past month the Knysna-Plett Herald has published numerous letters of complaints from community members who are up-in-arms about the state of the Welbedacht road and the risk implications for school children on bicycles, the many motorists using the road to drop off school children and the added strain of bigger buses carrying children to a new sport field that has recently been established.
Penny Foyn, one of the Welbedacht residents, complains that the municipality’s team filling the potholes with sand this week has her seeing red.
“Within hours the sand has already been compacted to below surface level by passing cars. And it will last only until the next rain. Then they will have to bring back their truck with their team of at least four people and do it all over again. “Great for the municipality for their ongoing employment initiative.”
“I have stopped counting potholes when I reached 120,” says another furious resident who feels that the Welbedacht community is in serious danger of becoming road accident statistics. “After the rains, splash pools are forming. Now that buses also transport children to the new Oakhill sports field, we hoped something would be done, but this seems ridiculously little.”
She says that for a long time, "there was the excuse that we want our roads fixed while there are people in the Northern areas who don’t even have roads. Then there was a solution offered by the Knysna Municipality that there is a way for us to get it done cost-effectively ourselves. This never seemed to be true as many enquiries regarding this have turned up nothing. They keep on saying there is no money but they buy high-end traffic vehicles that can withstand potholes instead of fixing the problem.”
Another resident, Vallerie Maas, has been writing letters to “every publication that will take them as well as bombarding the municipality with emails and letters”. Maas says she could hardly believe it when it seemed as if the efforts have paid off.
“It's just a pity that it took so long and that the money allocated is so ridiculously inadequate. This road is used by school children on bicycles and hundreds of cars picking up and dropping off kids at school and it is in such a state that an accident is waiting to happen.”
“This road is beyond patching now. I nearly had a head-on collision with someone because of swerving for the potholes and my car is 20 years old as it is. It is falling apart on this road and there is no way I can afford another one.”
Residents who do not want to be identified for fear of getting in the municipality's 'bad books' are asking how much the municipality can achieve with R187 000, which is the amount that allocated to the road in the next budget year. One says, “It is actually laughable to think that the municipality boldly prides itself in doing something while we all know that that something is still nothing.”
Welbedacht residents say they are “overwhelmed’ that they finally got a response, even though the small amount allocated for the project came as a shock. “Millions have been spent on George Rex Drive and that was for only a small part, less than one kilometer.”
Municipal manager Lauren Waring says an amount of R187 000 has been budgeted for Welbedacht Lane but that work will only commence in the next financial year, after final adoption of the 2014/15 budget by Council. She says Welbedacht Lane has been placed on the repairs and maintenance programme.
“All of Council service delivery programmes are aligned with our IDP, which inter alia includes inputs from the general public. This project forms part of Council’s normal maintenance programme. The council also adopted an approach on how to prioritise roads for repairs. The Knysna Main Road is regarded as a level one road and those that branch off, level two. Welbedacht lane is thus a level two road.”
On the municipal website it is stated that the road network in the Greater Knysna Municipal area is under severe pressure and needs attention urgently. As funding is not readily available the municipality developed a Pavement Management System (PMS) to prioritise spend on the maintenance of both gravel and surfaced roads. The Council-approved policy refers to a "roads hierarchy" which will channel the funds to roads in order of importance and maximum impact, resulting in an equitable distribution of funds across Greater Knysna.
On the website it is stated that in terms of the hierarchy, no work will be done on a road lower down on the list as long as repairs are needed on roads first on the list as these serve the larger community. The more traffic a particular road gets, the higher on the priority list it will be scheduled. Main public transport routes are most likely to be addressed first.
According to the website, this applies to resealing, road patching, re-graveling and general road maintenance, while normal internal blading operations will continue on a cyclic basis outside the hierarchy. No temporary repairs will be done and only long-term permanent solutions will be allowed in an effort to minimise the need for repeated repairs.
The municipality states that a seasonal approach will be followed – from March to May for road patching; from May to September for stormwater maintenance and temporary road repairs like plugging of potholes; from September to December for road patching; and from January to March for resealing.
The details of the road hierarchy are available on the municipal website at www.knysna.gov.za.
The Welbedacht road.
The Welbedacht road.
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