Makhanda’s roads to get a long-overdue facelift

Makhanda’s roads to get a long-overdue facelift
Makhanda’s roads to get a long-overdue facelift

Rolling out information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure is known to be vital to a country’s developmental and productivity prospects, just as its road network is a fundamental cog in its economic and social development.

Vox CEO Jacques du Toit says various levels of infrastructure should work in harmony, and to support its recent investment in the rollout of ICT services in Makhanda, its Enterprise and Supplier Development partner, 51% black-owned Grahamstown Wi-Fi also known as EcoLogic, has partnered with a local service provider to repair potholes in the city.

Potholes are more than a nuisance and pose a financial and safety risk. In April this year, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula told parliament that government needed between R700 and R1,500 per square meter to fund pothole repairs across the country. He said that the Provincial Road Maintenance Grant sets aside R12bn for pothole repairs to the country’s 754,600km road network.

“The pothole project, which will take around two months to complete, is the next phase of our long-term investment in the city of Makhanda,” says Du Toit.

“Grahamstown Wi-Fi and their joint venture partner, fibre infrastructure provider Frogfoot, have made significant progress. Of course, there is annoyance in the necessary digging up of pavements, but it pays off when residents get access to world-class ICT services. The next step is supporting road safety and tourism, while benefiting the local economy,” said Du Toit.

Grahamstown Wi-Fi co-founder Thinus Jurgens says they have identified just short of 300 potholes in the city. “As a local resident, the deterioration of the roads hits home on a personal level. We have partnered with SAE General Contractors led by Colin Hare, who will close about eight potholes a day using state-of-the-art cold pre-mixed tar which is built to last,” he says. He adds that their process will involve working on small sections of road at a time to result in as little disruption to traffic as possible.

“This is important to us as locals as it forms part of the general refurbishment and upliftment of our city. We need to go through the necessary digging lay fibre. Residents are now starting to enjoy world-class, high-speed internet, and the roads we all use every day are about to enjoy the next improvement.”

Du Toit says that when Vox invests in smaller towns or cities, it does so by embracing the local industry and skills. “Makhanda is its own city, with its own DNA and population. Since day one it has been important to us that whichever projects are embarked on involve and benefit the people of the city – from the internet service provider business owned by Vezi Zantsi and Thinus Jurgens, to their current road upliftment project,” he says.

Jurgens agrees, saying by mere virtue of the fact that Grahamstown Wi-Fi’s office is on African Street, mere metres from Pepper Grove Mall, the business is intrinsically tied to the prospects and daily life of the city.

“Ultimately, infrastructure is vital to development and prosperity, and this includes basic infrastructure such as roads and fast and reliable connectivity. We are honoured to be involved in both – supplying ICT services and driving the pothole repair initiative to improve the road network for our fellow residents,” he says.