The formation of potholes during winter is a common occurrence as it is directly related to the heavy rainfalls and the age or condition of the roads. To this end, the City of Cape Town’s road repair teams are out and about doing visual inspections, fixing potholes, and undertaking general maintenance across the city in preparation for the rainy season.
The City’s roads department has a rehabilitation and reseal programme which is implemented within each district according to priority and available resources. Otherwise, potholes are repaired on an ad hoc basis, as they occur and when residents report these to the City.
‘We have 47 teams from 20 depots that are responsible for repairing potholes. In 80% of the cases we are fixing a pothole within 72 hours of it being reported to the roads department,’ said the City’s mayoral committee member for transport, Felicity Purchase.
The teams repair on average 12 200 potholes across the city every month.
Although the presence of water is the primary cause of potholes, their formation differs somewhat depending on the existing roads pavement composition. Potholes can also result from non-structural causes such as diesel spillages, vehicle accidents, fires, and poor road drainage over certain sub-grades.
The majority of potholes form in the wet or rainy season. When it rains and the water accumulates on the road, tyres from the vehicles actually squeeze the water into the road pavement layer. The repeated pump action between the road surface and the tyres of the vehicles causes the road to crack. Water gets through the cracks and weakens the pavement layer, which in turn leads to more cracking and eventually a pothole forms.
“We call on residents to please report potholes in their areas before the heavy rains come to ensure that their roads are able to cope when it rains,” Ms Purchase said.
“It is not practical to do permanent repairs in winter due to the wet weather conditions. We often do temporary repairs on potholes. We then return in more favourable weather conditions to do repair work that will last longer.”
Temporary repairs consist of infilling the pothole with what is referred to as a ‘coldmix’ while the permanent repairs entail the cutting of the existing road surface around the pothole, preparing the base course, apply tack coat to the prepared base course and finally placing the hot premix.
Residents can report potholes to the transport information centre on 080 065 6463. This is a 24/7 information centre and is toll-free from a landline or a cell phone.
Alternatively, residents can email Transport.Info@capetown.gov.za.
“Residents are reminded to include their name, contact number and the location of the pothole. The exact location is very important because this will save us time in finding the pothole and to do the repairs as soon as we can. We want to thank our residents who have been reporting potholes. We appreciate your patience while our teams are attending to the increased volumes of reports that we have been receiving,” said Ms Purchase.