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‘We won’t stop’ — Limpopo villagers ramp up fight for a tarred road

‘We won’t stop’ — Limpopo villagers ramp up fight for a tarred road
The D3810 gravel road was closed by residents of Khakhala, Gawula, Mahlathi, Ndindani and Hlomela over mayor Pule Shayi’s planned visit to Ndindani village in the Greater Giyani Municipality. (Photo: Supplied)

The villagers in the Greater Giyani Municipality have blocked the D3810 gravel road and rebuked the mayor’s efforts at community engagement, saying they are tired of words and demand action, starting with tarring their roads.

‘We will never get tired to fight for our basic rights. It is our right to have access to tarred roads, it is our basic needs. This is a start, we won’t stop, fighting [for] our rights now is wafa-wafa,” said angry resident Justice Rikhotso. 

In April, residents of Khakhala, Gawula, Mahlathi, Ndindani and Hlomela villages in Limpopo’s Greater Giyani Municipality were up in arms, saying “enough is enough”. The root of their outrage is the D3810 gravel road, which they had blocked in protest. 

Their action followed Mopani mayor Pule Shayi’s planned visit to Ndindani to engage locals on the heated road matter. 

They said this proposed engagement was of little value to them – what they wanted was a tarred road, and to drive the point home, vowed that until this was realised there would be no-go areas in their communities for politicians and government officials. 

Limpopo D3810 gravel road

D3810 gravel road were closed by residents of Khakhala, Gawula, Mahlathi, Ndindani and Hlomela. (Photo: Supplied)

It didn’t take long for residents of the five villages to organise themselves through the Limpopo Concern team, a residents’ organisation, saying “it is the time they were waiting [for]”, in a message on their “No Road No Vote” WhatsApp group.

Residents said they were eagerly anticipating the resolution of the municipal management issues and the realisation of their goal – a well-maintained, tarred road that would enhance their quality of life and connectivity within the community.

Some residents were divided over the road blockade, and eagerly awaited Shayi’s arrival in Ndindani, while others were undecided. They complained that they should go to school and work. However, ultimately they all understood the slogan and joined the strike, agreeing that “the struggle continues”. They were resolute that they wanted action, not words.

The blockaded D3810 gravel road in the Greater Giyani Municipality. (Photo: Supplied)

Rumours circulated that the mayor would also address the critical water reticulation problem in the area, but residents weren’t convinced. Over the grapevine it was suggested that the mayor would engage with residents, following an announcement on the Mopani District Municipality’s Facebook page that he would visit Ndindani. 

Read in Daily Maverick: No road no vote’ say angry Limpopo residents in face of chronic service delivery failings’ 

However, the visit was cancelled, reportedly owing to security concerns. Instead, he rushed to Polokwane for an emergency meeting about road-related issues, according to a member of the residents’ WhatsApp group. 

The situation remains tense as residents await meaningful action.

The Limpopo Concern team leaders then took action of their own by writing to the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) and other relevant leaders, requesting a meeting to discuss the state of the D3810 road. Sanral’s general manager of marketing and communications, Vusi Mona, responded:

“Please note that the D3810 is not a Sanral road, it belongs to the Roads Agency Limpopo (RAL).” 

However, Sanral has been instructed by the Presidency and the National Department of Transport to produce a design for an upgrade of D3810, converting it from gravel to a surfaced road, and to undertake its construction. The construction tender was issued in December 2023 and this process is at an advanced stage. 

Sanral expects the tender to be awarded in early May 2024, after which a new contractor will be introduced to local stakeholders to begin the three-month mobilisation period.

Limpopo Concern did not stop there, however.

They also reached out to President Cyril Ramaphosa and Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga, emphasising the urgency of their cause. Their message was clear: If these crucial discussions do not take place, the ANC might not win 50% support in the elections. 

Residents block the D3810 gravel road. (Photo: Supplied)

Locals are demanding that the D3810 road be tarred. (Photo: Supplied)

Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga. (Photo: Gallo Images / OJ Koloti)

The stakes are high, and the wheels of political engagement are turning, but neither the minister nor the President responded.

Asked for comment, the Limpopo transport department’s director of communication services, Tidimalo Chuene, said: “Please note that the Department of Transport and Community Safety has no mandate on provision of road infrastructure… The Limpopo Department of Public Works, Roads and Infrastructure should be able to assist in your urgent inquiry.”

A response to a request for comment from the Limpopo public works department had not been received by the time of publishing.

In the aftermath of the mayor’s decision to cancel his visit to Ndindani, residents remain steadfast, vowing that, should he ever try to make the visit, they will not hesitate to act by closing the road. DM

Israel Nkuna is a ward committee representative at Ward 19 Giyani, Mahlathi village in Limpopo, a community activist, human rights activist, social grants activist and writer. 

Israel will be writing a monthly article in the run-up to the 29 May elections, painting pictures of his village and Limpopo. 

You can email him at [email protected] or call 082 433 8538 /073 036 3220.

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