Video: Anger over ‘more land than road’ next to posh residential area

Henry

Residents and business owners of Mooikloof, a luxury neighborhood in the east of Pretoria, are discouraged by the poor condition of roads in this area. A huge illegal squatter camp here is also an eyesore and a safety risk that the Tshwane metro seems to be doing little to tackle.

If you drive on Foxtrot or Duikerstraat, it is almost more pothole than road and business owners fear for their income, customers would no longer see the chance to venture on the road. The popular Busstop7 open-air market is located here, among other things. The Tshwane Metro, which is responsible for the maintenance of roads in the area, told RNews that they are aware of the problem, but do not have the funds to repair the roads.

René Booysen, manager of the Country View estate in Mooikloof, says the roads have been an extremely worrying problem in the area for years.

“You wouldn’t understand if you hadn’t had to drive these roads yourself. What is supposed to be a tar road is now a dirt road. You can barely swerve out of a pothole, because you just run into another one.”

She says that many heavy trucks use the roads because it is a shortcut to the R50-Delmas road. “These roads are not made for heavy vehicles.”

Booysen says that although Busstop7 attracts thousands of feet (and vehicles) on weekends, this outdoor market is not a contributing factor to the poor quality of the roads.

“The problem arose before Busstop7 opened (in 2019). The trucks are the real cause of the problem.”

She says residents met with the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport more than a year ago, after which plans were drawn up to determine the number of road users and investigate solutions to the problem. However, nothing came of this.

“We have suggested that signs be erected to prohibit trucks with heavy loads from using the road. A road engineer from the Tshwane metro even admitted to us that the roads are still old plot roads that have never been upgraded and that they were not built for the traffic they now have to carry.”

Booysen says that despite repeated calls and e-mails to the Tshwane metro, they are not getting any cooperation and members of the community have repeatedly tried to tackle the problem themselves.

“Numerous businesses, and even the Country View estate, have already stepped in to fill the potholes, but this is not sustainable.”

Christine Jansen, a market exhibitor at Busstop7 and a long-time resident of Pretoria East, says that Busstop7 is a very popular and fun market to be a part of, but that fewer and fewer people see the chance to brave the terrible road there.

“I drive a Toyota Rav4, but the roads are such that you have to stop almost completely and drive from pothole to pothole in first gear.”

She says the road has worsened especially in the last two weeks due to the heavy rain the area has received.

“The informal settlements are also expanding daily. New hamlets are being built on the illegal dumping site and there are no toilet facilities.”

Jansen says there has undoubtedly been a large decrease in visitors to the market over the past few months.

“My heart breaks for the exhibitors who try to make a living from this. There are around 250 market exhibitors and for 20% to 30% of them, Busstop7 is their only income. If fewer people attend the market – which is undoubtedly happening – these people will lose their only income.”

Marie Meintjes, also a market exhibitor at Busstop7, says that these days she receives more complaints from customers who visit the market.

“They simply don’t see any more chance to drive the bad road. The market exhibitors are also at a loss about the problem; these days there is often someone who needs to change a tyre.”

Christo de Wit, chief operating officer of the private school Maragon Mooikloof, also says the bad roads have an impact on parents who have to drive their children to and from school. “The security risk created by the squatter camp also caused us to have to step up security at the school.”

When asked, Lindela Mashigo, spokesperson for the Tshwane metro, said the metro is aware of the problem, but does not have the funds to fix it. “The damage to Foxtrot Street in particular is extensive. One of the options is to downgrade it again to a dirt road.”