‘I save lives’, says man who fixes 5,000 potholes himself

Henry

Piet Berg, resident of Randfontein on the West Rand of Gauteng, has fixed around 5,000 potholes in and around this area since the beginning of the year, without any financial help from the state.

Piet (65), owner of a small hardware store, tells RNews that he lost his daughter to cancer three years ago at the age of 36. This sudden event brought his life to a standstill. He brooded for a year about what to do next.

“She was only sick for a week. I wondered for a long time about what I had to do next and I decided that I wanted to spare other people the pain of losing a child.”

He says he thought about how his growing up town – and especially the roads – have deteriorated in recent years, and that the potholes in the road often claim lives unnecessarily.

“I wanted to save lives and keep people safe while saving them money for new tires and other damage to vehicles due to the potholes.

“Now I fix the holes, because people swerve out of the holes and crash into other vehicles. People die; i want to stop it I save lives, that’s what I do here,” explains Piet.

He says he stopped counting at 3,900 potholes, but if he has to estimate he has fixed all 5,000 potholes himself. He and a team of four workers fix the holes by digging out 100 mm of soil, followed by stone and sealer. Then the tar is poured into the hole, rammed and sealed again.

This entire operation is funded mainly from Berg’s own pocket. “People who drive past me where I work sometimes give me money, but my business only bears the costs.”

According to Piet, the municipality has so far not said a word about its efforts to secure the residents of Randfontein and the surrounding areas.

“They leave me alone. Even traffic constables, policemen and taxi drivers give me money when they pass me to say thank you. It’s never huge amounts, but with every R50 I get, I can buy more tar to fill more holes.”

The so-called old Cemetery Road from Tarlton in Randfontein was so damaged that residents of the town said there was no way Piet would be able to save this road.

“Well, R30 000 worth of tar later, I fixed the road and showed them: if a guy wants to do something, then he can do it.

“That road had more holes than the sweat holes in your hands and people said that road will never heal, I’m wasting my time. Within three days I fixed the road.”

“The other day I fixed the Brandvleipad – 127 potholes on this road alone – and then a contractor came to me out of the blue and said he got a contract to fix the road. How then is it possible after I have just fixed this very road?” says Piet.

“That’s why I write my name next to every hole, so that people who are busy with scams can’t say they filled those holes. I don’t cut the holes square either, I fill the hole just as it is.”

Piet says his wife supports him in his task. “She is still working and will not retire until next year. She supports me fully.”

He says with a laugh that the residents of the town are very grateful for his voluntary services, and says that he is often honked to say thank you, while other motorists first stop and strike up a conversation.

“As long as the Lord provides a way for us to obtain tar, I will continue to fill the potholes.”

  • Readers who wish to make a contribution to Piet Berg can send an email to (email protected) after which the bank details for donations will be provided.