Residents of Hebron, under the Madibeng local municipality in the North West province, say their roads are so bad that when there is a funeral, families are at times forced to carry the coffin to the home of their deceased loved ones. Most roads in Hebron are impassible, especially when it rains, forcing residents to use alternative routes to enter or exit the area. Ambulances cannot enter certain areas and have to pick up patients at the main road.
When a family is having a funeral they take it upon themselves to get concrete and patch the streets leading to their homes. Bags filled with concrete and soil are placed in gaping holes.
William Ngcangiso is a scholar transport driver in Hebron and has been ferrying school kids for more than six years. He has stayed in Hebron since 1995. “We lose a lot of money as drivers using the roads in Hebron. Everyday something breaks in my car; today it’s a bolt joint, the next day it’s the door or something else. I feel like I am working backwards,” he said.
The promise for better roads was proclaimed and heightened by the municipality during the local government elections last year. Ngcangiso said the municipality promised to pave the roads by August 2022, but like other residents, he has resigned himself to the fact that it did not happen.
Leah Ntobong, ward 41 councillor, says she has long been aware of how bad and alarming the condition of the roads is in Hebron, and had raised the problem during the previous integrated development plan (IDP) road shows that were conducted by Madibeng municipality. She blames the municipality itself for dragging its feet. “I don’t think there has been any budget for road infrastructure from our municipality. As serious as the matter is, it has not been put up front as a priority,” she said. “Our municipality also has a funny way of responding to issues.”
“The roads there are very dangerous, especially in Block E; you cannot enter there. I have been fighting for roads in Hebron to be improved, they are a danger. Ambulances cannot pass through and go in. I have heard complaints where people could not be taken by ambulances because they can’t access our community; that is sad. We are prioritising the paving of the roads in Hebron, especially those in Block E going to the cemetery.
Ward 42 councillor, Leah Ntobong
She said she will continuously be meeting with the Hebron community and report to her constituency what the status of plans is to fix the road infrastructure in the area.
North West department of health spokesperson, Tebogo Lekgethwane confirmed to Elitsha that there have been incidents where ambulances could not access the area. “One of our ambulances got damaged while trying to avoid rocks and bad roads and the crews were assisted by the community to remove the ambulance and after that, they had to walk to the patient leaving the ambulance behind… Patients have always been our first priority regardless of the bad road conditions,” he said.
Nesly Mathebula says living in Hebron is hellish. When her brother died last month they struggled throughout the burial, as even the road going to the cemetery is very bad. “The funeral undertaker asked some men from the village to assist and carry his casket to our house. It was bad because it was a rainy day. Their car could not navigate these roads at all. We have made numerous pleas to have the roads fixed but nothing has happened, ” said Mathebula. Drivers simply refuse to enter Hebron. Her seven-year-old nephew walks about 45 minutes to get to his scholar transport on the main road every morning and walks home after school.
Questions that were sent to Madibeng local municipality spokesperson, Tumelo Tshabalala, over three weeks ago were not responded to.