Newcastle Municipality states climate change and weather responsible for potholes

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

There is no doubt that climate change and weather conditions are impacting the world over. But, is this global issue being used as a scapegoat for years-long road maintenance issues?

With potholes ravaging multiple roads across Newcastle, to the point of becoming trenches in some cases, with entire pieces of road gone in other cases—surely before responding to a media enquiry on the subject, one would assume the Newcastle Municipality would look at the history of commitments on this continuous topic.

Due to the beauty of digital media, unlike our friends in print, the Newcastillian’s news is never deleted and therefore is an extremely large accountability tool as noted by our loyal Newcastillian community over the years. Therefore, just a few clicks on the website shows how the Newcastle Municipality has had a lot of reasons, promises and claims over the years on the subject. 

However, in reality, the problem keeps rolling on. 

Nevertheless, the Newcastle Municipality’s Communications Unit states most roads were damaged, irrespective of the material used, due to inclement weather conditions, as seen in the recent floods and heavy rains. The government entity further highlighted that over time, severe weather can have an adverse impact on our roads.

“The fixing and resurfacing of roads is an ongoing project which the municipality has tasked itself to achieving over a period of time,” the Communications Unit highlighted.

However, the Newcastle Municipality emphasised again that a major attribute to this is the unpredictable weather, partly caused by climate change.

“Over time, the Municipality, like the rest of the country did not predict the severity of climate change and the harsh impact it has on our roads. The Municipality has however, forged and learnt valuable lessons, as it gears itself towards being better prepared.” Further saying that whenever it rains, water is infiltrated through cracks and weakens the soil under the roads.

Furthermore, the government entity said that road works by the municipal technical teams must wait for dry conditions to make permanent repairs. However, it further said that the recent rains have not only created more potholes but have made it harder to fix them, as the substance to fill potholes requires dry conditions. 

Addressing the thousands of frustrated and angry motorists, “The Newcastle Municipality notes the outcry from road users and is also working closely with the Department of Transport to alert them of damaged roads post the recent downpours. Residents are urged to exercise patience until conditions are dry and conducive to resume resealing and resurfacing.”

Additionally, the Municipality said it was important to note, that weather conditions could sometimes determine the amount of work or maintenance which needs to be done on any particular road. Due to the sensitive material used, the Municipality said certain weather conditions must be favourable for maintenance of road works to continue.

With all this said and done, when can Newcastillians realistically expect the Municipality to start addressing the poor state of the roads?

The Municipality’s Communications Unit said, “The recent inclement weather conditions has, however, dictated the municipality to continue its quest of ensuring that Newcastle roads are conducive. The Municipality, despite the weather conditions, has set a timeline of ensuring that roads work and roads maintenance is conducted properly.” However, the timeframe has not been supplied to the Newcastillian – Online News.

Additionally, the Communications Unit said the municipality could categorically state road works and road maintenance has been ongoing in various parts in Newcastle. “As we speak, the municipality is preparing to construct several roads as part of our ongoing program.”

Despite the municipality claiming it had an aggressive road works and road maintenance program in place, it pleaded with residents to exercise patience and calm, as it resumed its roads maintenance campaign, currently being hampered by the weather conditions. 

However, as previously mentioned, the beauty of digital and the Newcastillian’s articles never being deleted, in February 2020, the Newcastle Municipality claimed it had begun repairs on damaged roads in Newcastle after certain hot spots were identified. An initiative which started off with a flurry, but seemingly slipped to the wayside.

To read the full article, click here.

Then in November 2020, the former administration of the Newcastle Municipality officially launched a Festive Resurfacing Programme.

At the launch of the project, the former Mayor, Dr Nthuthoko Mahlaba said “Part of this campaign is to make the roads safe, especially with the festive season coming up.”

To ensure the roadside fatalities were minimised, the former mayor pointed out that several roads in the CBD and townships were identified to benefit from the campaign.

To read the full article, click here.

The initiative continued in December 2020, with former Deputy Mayor Reuben Molelekoa stating that the municipality believed its efforts were paying off.

To read the full article, click here.

However, despite the Festive Resurfacing Programme promising to see an improvement in Newcastle’s roads, this was not the case. As was highlighted by the Newcastillian – Online News in January 2021, with multiple roads remaining in a sordid state.

Again, the Newcastle Municipality claimed that the construction, resealing and repairing of roads was an ongoing process.

At the time, the Communications Unit claimed, “We can’t really say that we’ve finished, because a number of unforeseen circumstances can lead to roads being damaged, such as inclement weather conditions or an increase of heavy motor vehicles in some parts of our roads.”

Moreover, the Communications claimed that once the Municipality detected an issue with any road, and depending on the severity of the damage, the government entity were prompted to act.

At the time, the Municipality claimed, “The Municipality always tries to fix all roads across our Municipality. If we can achieve our target of having to fix each and every pothole, then we would have done very well. That is our target, after all, making potholes a thing of the past.”

To read the full article, click here.

Then in January 2022, the Municipality’s Communications Unit stated that Newcastle Mayor, Cllr Xolani Dube, had indicated that his administration’s priority was to restore and repair the town’s infrastructure. Among the top priorities were road resurfacing and pothole repair.

In fact, at the time of the article, the Newcastle Municipality’s Communications Unit claimed that roadworks was ongoing, and the Technical Services Department always serviced and maintained roads throughout Newcastle.

The Communications Unit further added that the Mayor was also committed to sharply focussing on the restoration of Newcastle’s roads in the new year, and he wanted to focus on taking services to people.

To read the full article, click here.

Additionally, in February 2022, the Deputy Mayor Cllr Musa Thwala embarked on an initiative to resolve dysfunctional streetlights. While he initially looked at resolving failing streetlights, the Deputy Mayor assured the new administration would be resolving multiple issues, which included roads.

At the time, he said, “The Technical Services Portfolio has challenged itself to ensure that matters related to electrical, water and roads issues are attended to. I strongly believe that we are on the right path. Our announced visits and inspections are to ensure that everything is done accordingly. Service delivery is about working with speed, and we need to constantly remind our public servants that we all serve the people of Newcastle and not the other way round.”

To read the full article, click here.

It was then during the month of April 2022, that the Newcastle Municipality started blaming the torrential rainfalls for the sordid condition of the Newcastle’s roads.

In a statement, the Municipality said, “The municipality notes with great concern the inconvenience caused by potholes due to the recent heavy rains on Newcastle’s roads.” It further stressed that the Newcastle Municipality also noted the inconvenience road users were facing due to the increased number of potholes post these downpours.

At the time, the Municipality said its Technical Services teams were on standby to address the matter once most areas were dry. These teams were expected to resume the process of resurfacing and resealing damaged roads within days of the statement.

To read the full article, click here.

With every person just looking for straightforward answers and resolutions on the topic, what are your thoughts on the matter? 

Share your views in the comment section below.

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2 thoughts on “Newcastle Municipality states climate change and weather responsible for potholes

  1. There will never be straight forward answers from this municipality at all.
    Many of our streets are starting to look like Volksrust roads.
    There are some potholes in Rooikat street that have been repaired fir over 3 years now, they are just getting bigger every day.

  2. I’m lucky shabalala sisonke environmental justice network community organisation dealing with environmental issues and mining we have tried many times to have a meeting with the politicians who are leading the municipity so to address the climate change crisis which results into poor infrastructure we wanted to assist the municipality to have climate change adaptation plans as the country is in a process to shift from fossil fuel and turn into renewable energy which is a just energy transition in line with the cop26 resolutions but because you have leaders who are ck concerned about power and profit in terms of economic development which is killing our environment we can’t do anything with them

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