DIY pothole repair is illegal: JRA warns residents

The Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA) has issued a warning to residents about repairing potholes on their own, stating that it is against the law. While many Johannesburg residents have been taking the initiative to repair the potholes themselves, the JRA has emphasised that the materials used by residents are not up to standard and can put motorists at risk. JRA acting CEO Louis Nel highlighted the importance of adhering to the agency’s standards and has suggested that small and medium-sized enterprises may be involved in repairing potholes in the future. Myles Illidge explores the reasons behind the warning and the steps being taken to tackle the major pothole problem in South Africa.

Joburg’s road fiasco — residents who repair potholes themselves are breaking the law

by Myles Illidge*

The Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA) has issued a severe warning to residents after they started taking the repair of potholes on Joburg’s roads upon themselves.

JRA acting CEO Louis Nel said Johannesburg residents who repair potholes are breaking the law.

“We see this quite often, where people want to fix potholes themselves. As much as we want to appreciate them for doing that, there is a bylaw that prevents people from doing so,” Nel said in an interview with 702.

“We’ve got certain standards that we work to at the JRA. So, there is a certain way that we repair these potholes so that they do not re-occur.”

He added that the materials residents use to fix potholes are not up to standard and presents a risk for motorists.

“People put concrete, stones, bricks, and anything in those potholes. We’ve had an issue where a stone from a pothole flicked up and cracked the windscreen of a car,” said Nel.

“Now, the liability shifts to whoever interfered with that pothole. So, I think it’s important for people to know not to do that and also not to deface the city by spray painting anything on the road.”

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Looking ahead, Nel said the JRA is looking into how it can get small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) involved in the repair of potholes in Johannesburg.

“We are looking at different models whereby we can get SMEs involved in doing this. Then there will be proper training done, and it will be done through the JRA,” he said.

“We are not there yet, but we are thinking about this.”

Furthermore, the JRA has assigned its remaining budget for the current financial year to road surface repairs.

“Currently, all of the remaining budget for this year we have pushed to pothole repairs and resurfacing. Afterwards, we are waiting for the new budget allocation for the new year.”

Nel said the JRA had requested a “substantial amount of money” to continue with road surface repairs.

He also highlighted that the JRA has previously signed service licence agreements with third-party companies regarding pothole repairs.

“We had an SLA with a company. They actually do the pothole repairs, and then we send our inspectors out to look at the workmanship that was put into that pothole repair,” said Nel.

“So, we are very appreciative of the industry getting involved, but there’s obviously rules and regulations as to how we go about it.”

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South Africa’s major pothole problem

In October 2022, it was revealed that there were more potholes in South Africa at the time than there were households.

The South African National Roads Agency said the country’s roads now had an estimated 25 million potholes — around seven million more than the estimated households in the country.

The number is also 10 million more than reported in 2017, representing a 67% increase over five years.

In partnership with third-party companies, the City of Johannesburg (CoJ) has tried to address the problem in the past.

In October 2021, the CoJ, together with Dialdirect and Discovery, launched the Pothole Patrol app to let residents report potholes in their area.

Users can pin their location and upload images to pinpoint pothole sites accurately.

While the app lets unregistered users report potholes, they cannot view the progress of their report after that.

Pothole Patrol is not the first app-based reporting platform for potholes launched by the CoJ.

The JRA launched its Find&Fix application in 2014 to let residents report issues like potholes and faulty traffic lights.

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  • Myles Illidge is a junior journalist at

This article was first published in MyBroadband and is republished with permission.