Could a mining solution be a way forward toa more permanent solution to repairing portholes?

Kouga Executive Mayor Horatio Hendricks said the municipality would be piloting a new pothole filler similar to shotcrete used underground in mines for ground consolidation, rock reinforcement and water control.

“We are very excited to be putting this product to the test. Kouga has been looking for innovative solutions to fix pothole-ridden roads. If this roadcrete works as promised, it will be a giant step in the right direction,” he said.

Hendricks recently launched a special Mayoral intervention programme to boost the municipality’s capacity to repair roads.

As part of the programme, 70 additional workers have been employed on a temporary basis while 32 permanent staffers recently completed intensive training on road maintenance.

“Our road teams have been doing a commendable job and repaired almost 8 000 potholes this past financial year. One of the great frustrations, however, is how quickly potholes wash open again when it rains.

“The purpose of the intervention programme is to strengthen the municipality’s ability to maintain its roads. It will not mean the end of potholes but will set a new standard for repairs and bring us closer to more permanent fix,” he said.

Kouga is piloting the new pothole filler in partnership with Amathole MTC, a mining technology company.

Jonathan Auld, from the company’s Bedford office, was in Jeffreys Bay to introduce the product to the municipality and demonstrate its application.

“There is a standing joke in our company that we have been operating underground for too long,” he said.

“With road conditions in South Africa deteriorating fast, we realised there was also a market above ground that could benefit from the technology we have been using in mines.”

He said the cement-based roadcrete product had better adhesive qualities than traditional asphalt and bitumen mixes.

“This means it locks better with the tar and filled potholes are then less likely to wash open when it rains. If applied properly, we estimate the roadcrete plug could stay in place for anything from 10 to 25 years.”

He said the application of the product further required less manpower and machinery.

“Roadcrete is currently more expensive than bitumen and asphalt mixes, but this is off-set by the reduced cost of labour, fuel and machines, which can be cut by up to 90%.

“The fact that the same pothole will not have to be repaired over and over again also saves on costs.”

He said a total of 120kg roadcrete will be applied to potholes in the Kouga region for the pilot.

Jonathan Auld (right) show Jacques Jenneker how to level the roadcrete while (from left) East Cape MPL Vicky Knoetze, Kouga municipal workers Eric Bezuidenhout and Julio Manuel look on.

Meanwhile, work is also under way on Kouga’s eco-friendly road, incorporating waste plastic.

“The stormwater infrastructure is in place at the pilot project in Jeffreys Bay and work on the sidewalks and curbing is almost completed,” Hendricks said.

“The contractor expects to start stripping off the tar soon and will then lay the top layer which includes the special plastic mix.”