St Francis fixes its streets

The inability of the Kouga Municipality to fix the huge potholes, some even the size of craters, has led to some St Francis Bay residents buying tar from another supplier in Port Elizabeth to fix the roads where they live.

Some potholes and trenches in St Francis Bay's streets
Some potholes and trenches in St Francis Bay’s streets

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These residents say they do not want to see their properties devalued. To this effect they have bought five tons of tar to repair potholes and damage to their streets. Since this project started other residents have indicated they also wish to pay for more tar to also fix the holes in their streets.
The inability of the municipality to purchase tar is perceived to be the result of bureaucratic red tape: the municipality is unable to get more tar because the new supplier of tar cannot be registered on the municipal database as it does not have the necessary paper work.
After receiving many complaints from residents, that the town was deteriorating and if not remedied soon would “go to pot”, St Francis Chronicle contacted the municipality to determine the reason for the decline in the status of the roads.
The municipality replied that the company that supplies it with tar has exchanged hands and is under new ownership. “It has been a mission getting some of the necessary documentation from the new owners, such as tax clearances etc.
“This led the municipality to not being able to properly register them on our database in accordance with the supply chain processes and therefore unable to procure from them.”
The company was the sole provider of tar that has been registered thus far. The municipality said it was busy trying to explore other options in the meantime and it would know about mid-June how far it has progressed.
Contacted for comment, Nigel Aitken of the SFBRA issued this statement: “Due to numerous complaints from residents in St Francis Bay regarding the state of our roads, a number of residents indicated their willingness to participate in a project organised by the St Francis Bay Residents Association in which they would fund the cost of obtaining tar from Port Elizabeth. To date seven tons have been purchased by residents. Five tons were paid for by residents and two tons by the SFB Residents Association.
“The reason for this action was that our Council was unable to obtain tar from their supplier in Port Elizabeth due to a change of ownership.
“The project organised in conjunction with Council was that Council would collect the tar in Port Elizabeth and the Council pothole team would repair the potholes under the SFBRA’s supervision. The tar, paid for by residents, was obviously to repair damaged roads in their streets.
“This is not a long term project and was purely implemented to bridge the gap until such time as Council was able to obtain and pay for its own tar.
“The reason that most residents gave was that they were not willing to see their properties further devalued by a breakdown of the infrastructure in St Francis Bay. Since this project started further residents have stepped forward with a view to paying for tar to have the potholes filled in their streets.”
This is not the first time St Francis Bay residents have been faced with unsightly and bad roads. In 2012 the roads deteriorated to the most appalling and shocking state that were only fixed after months of complaints, burst tyres and damages to local and visitors’ vehicles. The SFBRA subsequently supervised the municipal road fixing teams to speed up the process and the roads have been repaired regularly until this year.
Normally before visitors arrive the pothole teams are out in full force fixing the roads, but once the local supplies of tar had run out, no more potholes could be repaired.
During the recent Easter holidays many visitors complained after their vehicles’ tyres were ruined. Some even said they would not return until the road had been improved. Most residents after having their vehicle’s tyres ruined have learnt to dodge the potholes but the sudden swerving of cars is considered dangerous.
St Francis is not the only Kouga area to have bad roads . In Jeffreys Bay the ward committee of Wavecrest complained about the poor condition of the roads earlier this year, among other things. These issues were raised with the municipality.
Local St Francis residents say the bad roads impact negatively on the town. “It is well known that St Francis Bay and Jeffreys Bay are the wealthiest areas in Kouga, They draw the most tourists. However the bad state of the roads is bad for tourism,” are comments one hears often.
Residents say that if the value of properties were to decline in St Francis Bay because of bad roads, then the municipality would receive less income from this area. They point out the July school holidays are approaching and it is important that the roads be fixed by then.
St Francis Chronicle has also received calls from visitors wanting to know if the roads will be repaired before the holidays.

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