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By: Padi Masupe – Setsoto FM

Edited by: Gladys Matasane – CJN

On Wednesday 17 March 2021, Ficksburg town in Free State came to a stand-still when the community of Ficksburg and surrounding areas under a forum called ‘Setjhaba sa Ficksburg’ barricaded major roads in the town including R26 and R70. The community is frustrated by potholes which they say damage their vehicles and cause accidents. Among those present at the picket were farmers, members of taxi associations, nurses and teachers who frequently use these roads.

The shutdown was supported by local farmers who brought their farming equipment that was then used to barricade the roads. When interviewed by Setsoto FM, the chairperson of ‘Setjhaba sa Ficksburg’ Forum Lesole Thamae said that “they were fed up about the empty promises from the provincial government while people continue to lose their lives because of these unsafe roads”. Lesole further stated that they need the Premier of the Free State Sisi Ntombela to come and address their demands as the community. However, the MEC of Police, Roads and Transport Sam Mashinini came to address the Forum at the Hamonia Farming Hall, where he promised to speed up the process of fixing the roads concerned.  “We’re going to work together with the people as discussed in the meeting, when it comes to fixing the potholes on R26, I need this attended to as soon as possible, I need a report at least by end of this week –  I drove on this road and saw the potholes and it is my responsibility as MEC to ensure that although funds are limited, this must be fixed because if you ignore potholes – they’ll cause accidents” said Mashinini

One of the Farmers from Saxon Park Farm Fridel von Maltitz told Setsoto FM that, while they acknowledge these promises they’ll give the Premier and MEC until this weekend to act or they will come back and shut the roads for a longer period until the government brings the changes needed for the safety of the community of Ficksburg. “we also demand to be part of the solution, if the roads are fixed, they must be fixed by local residents and contractors, we need to know what is the budget etc. so that the local community will has more control of the solution” said Fridel von Maltitz