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By Everson Luhanga

At some point along your journey in a South African taxi, you’ll often hear your driver say these words: “We’re not bad drivers – potholes make us look bad!”

Taxi drivers in Gauteng are fed up with driving on treacherous roads, and they’re sick of waiting for the government to sort it out – so they’re fixing up the roads themselves.

Smut Matterson, chairperson of the Greater Alberton Taxi Association (Gata), said taxi owners

and drivers in his area, near Johannesburg, have taken it upon themselves to fix potholes.

The name of the project: Vala Amapothole.

He said Alberton motorists have been a target of criminals because they can’t drive fast as they try to avoid potholes.

One of his close friends was robbed after he hit a pothole that damaged his tyre about three weeks ago.

“While he was trying to change the tyre, criminals pounced on him. They took all his valuables including his car keys.”

Matterson said motorists drive like they are drunk. “We drive zig zag. At some point we drive onto the oncoming traffic which is extremely dangerous to other road users. But we have no choice.”

Emmanuel Maleka, taxi owner and spokesperson for Gata, said the association and other motorists have now got together, raised money and agreed that they should fix the roads with concrete.

On Tuesday they ordered ready mixed concrete and covered Yende and Peterson Streets in Phola Park and Eden Park in the city of Ekurhuleni.

“We were about 30 people where we were joined by other businesspeople who are also victims of these massive potholes on the streets,” he said.

The men in reflectors managed to cover over 40 potholes while managing the flow during peak hour traffic.

“Many motorists were happy to see the taximen doing what the government is supposed to be doing,” said Maleka.

Maleka said they have given up on the government, especially since coalition politics started in the city. “Politicians play the blame game of who is supposed to fix our problems.”

He said they will continue fixing other roads wherever their association operates and they will make sure they are not victims of government incompetence.

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