Roads and Transport reprimanded

Hennie Pauw

THABAZIMBI – During the last TFPA (Thabazimbi Fire Protection Association) meeting on 2 September delegates of the district’s Road and Transport Division were berated for not clearing road shoulders and therefore contravening the act on veld fires and contributing to fire hazards.
Within less than a week after this meeting a huge veld fire started, presumably because a road shoulder was burnt in the Rooiberg area. The fire started on the farm Renosterkloof and by Wednesday more than 10 000 ha had burnt down in the Elandsberg Nature Reserve.
Apparently at a previous TFPA meeting two months ago, Beauty Madala, head of Roads and Transport in Modimolle undertook to investigate the possibility of registering farm owners adjacent roads as service providers in order for each land owner to be able to clear the road shoulder in front of his own land and be refunded.
In order to register as service provider it must be determined what type of services can provided, what equipment the service provider has available and the available manpower. There is also a matter of being BEE compliant before registration can take place.
Apparently the Dept of Roads and Transport does provide for the clearing of roads in its budget, but the problem lies in getting the job done, either by Dept of Roads and Transport or by contractors. A further danger exists that budgetary allocation for this service will be stopped if not used after a couple of years.
At the previous TFPA meeting Madala agreed to find out what procedures could be followed (and which could sidelined) to make it possible for farmers to clear the road shoulders running through or past their farms in order to help minimize the fire hazard.
Another solution was presented by Philip Nel of Rooiberg, who is in the process of helping the ANC Youth League in Rooiberg to establish a CC, register as a service provider and do this kind of work. It would also aid in creating jobs and alleviate the scourge of unemployment.
However, the wheels of the state have been turning slowly and at the latest TFPA meeting in September no progress has been made in this regard. The result is that in the middle of the fire season dense vegetation growing on the road shoulder provides the perfect fuel to carry forward veld fires.
The possibility was even mentioned that a charge is laid by the Fire Protection Association against the Dept of Roads and Transport for not adhering to the local guideline of clearing fire breaks of at least 2m wide on property boundaries.