Disgruntled residents vow to boycott elections

By Ndivhuwo Mukwevho

Fed-up residents from six villages in Vhembe, Limpopo have closed all roads leading to their villages to demand that their gravel roads be upgraded to tarred surface standards. 

They have vowed that they will boycott the upcoming national elections if their grievances are not addressed urgently.

Residents from Dididi, Tshilungoma, Tambaulate, Mulenzhe, Gumbani, and Dovheni, all situated outside of Thohoyandou, want road D3717, from the intersection with road R524 (Punda Maria which leads to the Kruger National Park), upgraded from gravel to tarred road.

Fhumulani Munyai is a resident of Dididi village. He told Scrolla.Africa that they are tired of empty promises from the government. Munyai said that residents were promised in 2018 that roads leading to their villages would be tarred but only a small portion of less than 7km was tarred before construction stopped.

While residents were promised that more than 29.6km of gravel roads leading to all the named villages would be tarred, years have passed, and they continue to wait in vain.

“We have been patient with them for years as this road was supposed to have been constructed and completed about five years ago but here, we are still waiting for them and all they do is promise us that construction will continue. But it’s been years of waiting now,” said Munyai.

Munyai said residents are struggling due to poor gravel roads which are never maintained. Munyai, who works as a supervisor at a retail store in the Thohoyandou shopping complex, said that he often arrives at work late, despite leaving home early.

“Every day it is a struggle due to these poor roads, especially during the rainy season, as it becomes impossible to drive on the mud. Look, from my village of Dididi, it should take me less than an hour to get to the Thohoyandou CBD but due to these roads it takes me more than three hours,” said Munyai.

The protesting residents have since blocked road D3717 with stones and burning objects. 

Richard Magosha, who resides in Mulenzhe village, said that due to poor roads they are being denied their right to timely medical attention.

“People are dying unnecessarily in our villages, because even when we call for emergency services (an ambulance) they often arrive several hours late and when we ask them why they took so long, they always blame the poor condition of the gravel roads within our areas,” said Magosha.

Magosha said that they have suffered enough, and they believe that it is about time that their grievances are addressed.

“Enough is enough. Something needs to be done urgently to address this situation. We also deserve to have tarred roads like other communities. Even taxis do not want to operate within our areas due to the poor state of the roads. They must address this as soon as possible,” said Magosha.

Speaking to Scrolla.Africa on Monday at the protest scene, Maanda Baloyi said if they are not given concrete information on when construction work will commence to upgrade their gravel roads, they are not going to participate in the upcoming elections.

“We are tired of waiting and if they do not tell us about the correct dates on when our roads are going to be tarred, we are not going to vote and on voting day we will shut down all roads leading to our villages like we did today,” said Baloyi.

Baloyi said that due to the poor roads, they feel detached from other villages in Vhembe.

“It is difficult to move from our villages to other villages in Vhembe or to even go shopping in the Thohoyandou shopping complex. Everything is difficult because of these poor roads and on top of that they still expect us to vote, while we are here suffering and no one seems to care about our grievances,” said Baloyi.

Attempts to get comments from Road Agency Limpopo (RAL) failed. RAL is responsible for the construction of the D3717 road.

Pictured above: There was a heavy police presence at the protest site.

Source: Supplied

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