Agricultural association Free State Agriculture (FSA) has directed a letter to the Free State Department of Police, Roads and Transport requesting urgent actions to repair roads for critical access in the province.
This comes as recent flooding in the province has caused severe damage to roads in the province.
In recent years, roads in the Free State have been very poorly maintained. The recent extreme downpours have resulted in many roads and bridges being washed away or rendered impassable, FSA reports.
“This situation represents a breakdown in critical infrastructure required for continued economic activity in rural areas. Farmers will increasingly find it difficult to transport produce to markets.
“Additionally, the increased immobility is placing the lives and livelihoods of whole communities in danger. For example, many poor people are not able to access medical care and farm workers are finding it increasingly challenging to travel to and from work,” the organisation states.
FSA president Francois Wilken says farmers have already started to repair roads where critical but says there is a need for financial and material support to stave off further disaster.
FSA, in its letter, requests that equipment, including graders and tractor loader backhoes be made available, since the aged State-owned yellow fleet is basically grounded as a result of poor maintenance.
Moreover, material such as bitumen/tar, concrete, culvert pipes and diesel for farmers’ equipment used for road repairs are needed.
Wilken points out that FSA is finalising an internal plan to try and improve the poor state of roads.
If road infrastructure is left unattended, FSA members will be forced to take action and repair roads where access is critical. As an immediate step, FSA is consulting legal and other experts on what citizens and other entities can do to start repairing roads.