Agri Eastern Cape president Doug Stern described last week’s landmark agreement between the organisation and the provincial Department of Roads and Public Works as a victory for rural road users in the province.
In a letter to Eastern Cape farmers, Stern said the agreement, which was endorsed by the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein, will see Agri EC becoming a formal contributor to the annual provincial budgetary process on roads.
“Being granted this facility is highly unusual,” said Stern. “It means that we will be able to make representation and assist in identifying which rural roads require the most urgent attention.”
Going forward, he said it was agreed that the organisation would now meet with the Department of Transport’s roads division on a quarterly basis to discuss maintenance programmes on the roads affecting rural farming communities.
Stern said a sum of R15 million had been earmarked for urgent road repairs within the next six months.
“Should the department run out of money and not be able to allocate the agreed budget, the agreement provides that they must approach both the national and provincial Treasury and all other stakeholders they consider necessary to fulfil their undertaking.”
It was also agreed that there would be ongoing judicial supervision by the High Court in Grahamstown of progress made on road repairs and maintenance by the Department of Roads, he said.
“The Court has ordered that all costs relating to this case are carried by the Department, which, in my opinion, is significant and constitutes a victory for both our members and rural road users in the Eastern Cape,” said Stern.
He said the agreement did not provide for compensation for individual farmers who had undertaken rural road maintenance at their own cost.