Kouga slashes M&R costs with durable plastic roads

CAPE TOWN — With infrastructural neglect the bugbear of municipalities country-wide and some desperate civic associations taking these essential tasks into their own hands, it’s a relief to see the Kouga Municipality adopting a cost-efficient and environmentally-friendly approach from the outset. Using tried and tested plastic road-building technology, they’ve hired a Scottish company whose plastic waste pellet roads back home have outperformed their tarmac versions by a country mile, to stem the growing R500m road repair backlog in in the Kouga region. The idea, introduced by a tenacious DA city councillor, Vicky Knoetze two years ago, makes Kouga a trail blazer nationally. Not only will the project (in Jeffreys Bay), reduce the mountains of plastic waste in landfill sites, it will boost and motivate the local recycling industry and incentivise residents to separate out recyclable material from biodegradable waste. Any gesture that benefits residents and the local economy must be a motivator, never mind the potential for new plastic pellet factories and waste collection outfits. As a cost-benefit exercise, it’s a no-brainer, freeing up cash for improved all round service-provision. The price of neglected and decaying roads goes way beyond repair – they fundamentally impact vehicle running costs and industry overheads. The article was republished with permission from cape{town}etc. – Chris Bateman

First plastic road paves the way for SA

By Aimee Pace

Jeffreys Bay will be paving the way for recycling in the country, literally, as it prepares to pilot the first plastic road ever constructed in South Africa in an attempt to reduce road maintenance costs.

The Kouga Municipality announced on March 11 that it would be trialling South Africa’s first plastic road, which is made from recycled plastic materials broken down into pellets.

The venture is backed by a partnership between the Kouga Municipality and a Scottish company, MacRebur, and supported by South African civil engineering experts.

“The backlog in road repairs for our region is estimated to be more than R500m. While Kouga is strong financially, we simply do not have the rates-base to deal with this backlog decisively. The DA-led Kouga Council has, therefore, been looking for innovative ways to slay this giant since taking power in the municipality in 2016,” Kouga Mayor Horatio Hendricks said in a statement.

The project kicked off on Monday and if successful the Kouga Municipality will establish factories to produce the pellets that are used for the roads locally. This new venture could change things for the better, not only in the province but in other area as well, as plastic roads not only reduce the plastic in the environment, but also last longer and use less materials than normal tarred roads.

MacRebur – who has already tested plastic roads in the United Kingdom and other countries across the globe – will be heading up the project.

The search for an innovative solution to cutting the costs of roads maintenance led Hendricks to Vicky Knoetze, a member of the Eastern Cape Legislature who first introduced the idea of plastic roads in the country to the Provincial Legislature in 2017. Her notion was, however, rejected at the time.

Knoetze facilitated a meeting between the municipality and MacRebur, and it was after this meeting that the idea was finally accepted.

“I am delighted with the outcome and that Kouga has agreed to become the first municipality in South Africa and the continent to put the technology to the test. Essentially we will be doing what we have done for years and will be doing till the end of days, which is building roads, just in a much more efficient and effective way,” Knoetze said.

Hendricks said Kouga was looking forward to the potential benefits of the trial.

“Poor roads have a devastating impact on communities. It’s not only a danger to motorists, it is also bad for the economy as it scares off potential investors and makes it difficult for existing businesses to ply their trade.”

If the trial is successful in Jeffreys Bay it may just be a starting point for the rest of South Africa and a perfect way for us to take plastic out of our oceans and landfills and use it for something worthwhile.

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