Government claims it’s run out of money
Villagers in Limpopo are fuming after the government failed to deliver on its promise to provide a 6km tarred road whose tender was advertised 13 years ago.
The community of Shimange near Giyani was excited in 2008 when the Road Agency Limpopo (RAL) advertised a tender for the upgrade of the D3232 gravel road, which links the village to Jokong villages in the Greater Giyani Municipality.
The R60m project was meant to take six months to complete, with 30% of the labour coming from the community. However, their brief celebration turned into a decade of frustration as the government failed to stick to its promise and instead said funds were unavailable.
Shimange Community Development Forum chairperson Timmy Shimange, whose organisation met government officials over the project, said a site inspection was done 13 years ago, but that was all. He said attempts to get answers have been ignored by both the department of road infrastructure and public works and RAL, an implementing agency.
“Over the past years, we have been writing letters requesting details or some sort of explanation as to what happened to the construction of the tarred road, but no-one is coming forth with information. During rainy seasons, it becomes very difficult to drive on that gravel because it gets muddy. We are then forced to abandon our trips or use longer routes to get to our destinations,” he said.
Shimange said the community felt neglected and disrespected by the government for failing them while neighbouring villages are being developed.
Another resident, Robert Ngobeni, said last month they were at a community meeting with the forum and the issue of the road was raised again. “Members of the forum didn’t have answers when we asked about the road. They told us that for the past years, the government failed to respond. The worst part is that even that gravel road is not consistently maintained,” he said.
Sowetan visited the area and noticed that the road was rocky and bumpy. This made it difficult for motorists to drive on the road.
Wisani Manganyi, a taxi driver who travels to Giyani almost every day, said he found it difficult to travel on the road with passengers on board. “I can’t even drive more 40km an hour on this gravel because it’s rocky. It makes my work difficult because I need to be fast to make money by ferrying passengers,” he said.
Department spokesperson Joel Seabi said the road reconstruction started in 2008 as a “labour-intensive programme” called “gundo-lasho”, which paved the yellow section for 4.33km.
“The section in red, which is 6km, was planned to continue in 2013 but RAL indicated that funding is not available at the time. The road is prioritised under Mopani District as road priority seven to be upgraded. Presently there is no budget over the current MTEF [medium-term expenditure framework] period for the project,” said Seabi.