Taking a stand against citizen abuse, one pothole at a time

Poor service delivery from the government is something that every South African has battled with. Millions of impoverished citizens sit without water, electricity, proper schooling, and housing while corrupt officials loot and plunder. Other problems, like crumbling road networks, don’t only damage vehicles but endanger lives too. After waiting for local government to do something about the potholes in Roodepoort, the local community has decided to take action themselves – fixing potholes and doling out upgrades. Community member Dave Baxter and Amy-Claire Morton of the IRR joined the BizNews Power Hour to discuss this uplifting story of active citizenry. – Jarryd Neves

Dave Baxter on the Panorama Residents Association’s involvement in fixing potholes:

We report them to the council and nothing gets done. We get it escalated and it gets lost in the system. We just took it upon ourselves – one of our local security companies assisted us – and we bought close to a ton of tar. We started filling potholes and we didn’t even do a tenth of the neighbourhood that needed doing.

Dave Baxter on the council’s reaction to residents taking things into their own hands:

They arrived the next day and continued. The strange thing is that the potholes the council fixed have already opened up again, whereas the ones we fixed are still closed. I don’t think there’s any supervision over what the subcontractors do. It’s a matter of “okay, the hole is filled. Tough luck. It’s no use filling a pothole if it’s not filled properly.

Dave Baxter on the decision to repair potholes in the area:

It’s not only what else we do. We are starting to clear the drains – the curbs of the road – because they sometimes cut the grass on the pavement, but they do not clear the flow to the drainage points. That is our next project – to start clearing that up – because we have trees growing between the curb and the tar on busy arterials.

Dave Baxter on why the Residents Association has decided to do this:

[Because the council] is not doing it. We got permission from city parks to lock the parks up because of the excessive use of drugs and the crime that was taking place from this park into adjacent households. We devised a locking mechanism onto the gates to the park, and we now lock them at 18:00 in the evening and unlock them at 6:00 in the morning.

Amy-Claire Morton on #StopCitizenAbuse:

We’re running a campaign called #StopCitizenAbuse and we focus on all instances of citizen abuse – which we term as stealing from taxpayers, wasting money and resources intended for upliftment of community, physical abuse of citizens – just any abuse, even crippling taxation.

We do a lot of reporting on the issues in the country. We actually wrote a memorandum, which we presented to the presidency – and we’re still waiting for a response. We were looking for a more positive story about how people can stand up against citizen abuse, because that’s really the point for us – to motivate people to rise above citizen abuse and not just endure it.

We were looking for a positive story and we found this article about Dave and the Panorama Residents Association. It’s really incredible what they’ve done; potholes are really just the tip of the iceberg. They’ve really transformed their community.

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