The state of our city: ‘theft, vandalism and anything else that can be broken, used or sold’

The City of Cape Town says that an increase in theft and vandalism of road infrastructure is draining its budget.

The city’s transport directorate said it has repaired 18,080 potholes and resurfaced 121km of roads between 1 January to 31 August 2021.

Cape Town has 21 roads depots across the city with approximately 1,200 employees who are, on a daily basis, busy with pothole repairs and the clearing and maintenance of stormwater infrastructure, said the city’s mayoral committee member for transport, councillor Rob Quintas.

An average of 2,260 potholes are being repaired each month, approximately 75 every day, across Cape Town.

“This is a huge achievement, given that our roads depots have lost 105 working days due to closures related to the Covid-19 pandemic. It does not include the time when the national government placed the country under Alert Level 5 when no road maintenance was allowed,” said Quintas.

Due to Covid-19, there have been delays with the delivery of asphalt which is needed to do pothole repairs. The very wet rainy season has also contributed to delays, he said.

“One of our biggest challenges remain the increase in theft and vandalism of road infrastructure such as stormwater covers, and anything else that can be broken, used or sold. This is having a huge impact on our service delivery, and is draining our budget.

“Our roads depots do repairs and replace the infrastructure, but must often return to the same spot within days because it has been vandalised or stolen again. I know the vast majority of residents are law-abiding citizens, and they are the ones who suffer the most when this happens. All of us need to play our part to prevent and report these activities,” said Quintas.

The transport directorate said it has recently acquired three vacuum combination machines for high-pressure cleaning of blocked stormwater infrastructure.

“Abuse of the stormwater infrastructure is also acute in some areas where everything possible is dumped into the system. This leads to blockages, and eventually the flooding of roads and even houses. This is why I cannot stress enough how important it is that residents refrain from dumping objects into the system and to report those who do,” said Quintas.

CCTV infrastructure

MyBroadband recently reported that Cape Town’s strategic surveillance unit detected more than 15,000 incidents over the last financial year.

The city’s media office said the CCTV surveillance system detected 1,509 more incidents during 2020/21 than 2019/20.

The increase in detection appears to have resulted from the addition of 52 cameras to their surveillance ranks, increasing from 783 to 835 cameras during the last financial year.

JP Smith, Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for safety and security, highlighted that the CCTV system also detects other incidents while working to fight crime.

“It is also important to highlight the other uses of this technology, like detecting fires, motor vehicle accidents and other incidents where lives or property are potentially at risk,” he said.

“Then of course there is the potential for it to be used in aiding the prosecutions authority, or the police in their investigations.”

“As we expand our network, we have also started seeing the benefit of CCTV surveillance in helping to address cable theft and other critical infrastructure.”

Read: South Africa’s plan to curb theft and vandalism of rail infrastructure includes patrol drones

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The state of our city: ‘theft, vandalism and anything else that can be broken, used or sold’