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The impact of floods on SA's roads

By Staff Writer

The recent rains and subsequent flooding that has occurred across South Africa has had a significant impact on the state of the national roads. As a result, motorists are being urged to take extra caution when driving as a precaution against the likelihood of further potholes having been created on the roads.

In a statement at the opening of the Eastern Cape Roads Indaba conference, South African Transport Minister Sbu Ndebele, once, again confirmed that South Africa has a poor road safety record by world standards, which substantially increases the risk of road crashes.

Carlman Moyo, Managing Director for DuPont Sub-Saharan Africa believes that in order to ensure the safety of South African’s on the road, serious attention must be given to the quality of materials and procedures used to construct them.

“Although the maintenance and upkeep of existing roads is important, it is equally important to ensure that the roads are properly constructed, repaired and maintained, by using appropriate techniques and materials. South Africa has a wealth of talent and resources available – it is just a case of utilising that. When it comes to road safety, no corners can be cut – especially at the construction level.”

He says that government could save significant costs associated with protecting roads in the long term, by adopting new construction materials and techniques.  “For example, certain polymers, such as those used in bitumen modification, as well as correct tensile strength geo-textiles can extend and support the longevity of pavement layers.  These materials also prevent rutting caused by the constant loading on the pavement layer by high traffic volumes.”

Moyo, who has considerable experience in the industry, says that there are areas where some sections of our roads require immediate intervention.  “If they are not maintained or upgraded, as a matter of urgency, these roads will most likely deteriorate and collapse completely, putting drivers at risk.  The knock-on effect is of course that the government will have to lay out more funds to rebuild the same roads,” he says.

Moyo warns that roads could be deteriorating without showing signs of this on the surface. In fact, he explains that by the time a problem is visible on the road surfaces, it is almost too late and any action taken will be reactive.

“It is important to address this problem before it results in cracks, and potholes which pose a safety risk to drivers. This means taking pro-active preventative action at the construction phase.”

According to Moyo, building and repairing roads that will withstand the increasing traffic volumes, over an extended period of time, is fundamental. “In our extensive experience, the importance of using the most appropriate materials and techniques, as opposed to the cheapest, is recognised as crucial in ensuring that road surfaces meet the obligatory requirements and specifications for which it was constructed. Not only does this make regular maintenance cheaper due to smaller scale, but it dramatically reduces the likelihood of dangerous potholes forming on the road surface,” he says.

In the meantime, he urges all drivers to be aware of the state of the roads that they will be travelling on  and to ensure that they remain alert for potholes and other hazards at all times. Drivers can also report potholes by making use of the Dial Direct Pothole Brigade.

Drivers should also check their insurance policies to ensure that everything is up to date.

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