Joburg’s pothole app got 28,000 reports, and the partnership behind it is fixing 100,000 a year

Business Insider SA
A pothole on one of the roads in Johannesburg. (File/Gallo Images)
A pothole on one of the roads in Johannesburg. (File/Gallo Images)
  • A year in, the Pothole Patrol initiative has helped fix over 100,000 potholes in and around Johannesburg.
  • Its app has received over 28,000 reports from locals.
  • Wet weather and underlying problems have held back progress, the partners behind it say. 
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The Pothole Patrol has repaired just over 100,000 potholes in Johannesburg in the course of one year.

The joint initiative saw two insurance companies, Dialdirect and Discovery Insure, partner with the City of Johannesburg to help repair roads.

“The Pothole Patrols will seek out potholes on the busiest, most high-impact roads, and fix those,” reported Business Insider at the time of its launch, when a smartphone app was still in the works.

By the time of the launch of the smartphone app in October, Pothole Patrol said it had already repaired 50,000 potholes. The launch of the app simplified the reporting process for motorists and residents, and accelerated the programme. Since its release, the patrol has received over 28,000 reports in just seven months. (Residents can also report potholes using a system that allows the use of a WhatsApp pin location, which takes just 3 minutes.)

Wet weather has exacerbated the already dire pothole situation in the city, according to the head of Dialdirect, Anneli Retief.

The initiative cannot fix all potholes reported. Over 4,000 reports have been referred to the Johannesburg Road Agency (JRA) or Johannesburg Water since October alone.

Once a report is received, the patrol heads to the scene and then inspects not only the reported pothole, but the entire road. That may result in them fixing other potholes found on that road. The Pothole Patrol only has a mandate to repair potholes of a maximum one metre by one metre, and nothing deeper than 3cm. Anything larger than that falls out of Pothole Patrol's scope and is then identified as a reinstatement.

Potholes are caused not only by a lack of maintenance of roads themselves, but also due to blocked stormwater drains, which cause water-logging, the initiative says. And repairs to holes caused by underlying water damage tend not to last.

"While intermittent, superficial repairs are undertaken, we are sure motorists navigating these intersections will agree that a more permanent solution is needed," said Anton Ossip, Discovery Insure CEO.

The Pothole Patrol says it has now repaired 25,000 square metres of road surface, and used more than 2,400 tonnes of material.

Roodepoort is one of the oldest suburbs and has the most potholes in the city. Most of the suburb's roads have passed their design lifespan says Siya Nodu, CEO of the Johannesburg Roads Agency.

The record for reported potholes is held by William Nicol Drive, at 155. Other top contenders for the road in the city with the worst surface are Jan Smuts Avenue with 110; Ontdekkers Road in Roodepoort with 104, and Beyers Naude, the longest arterial route in Johannesburg that stretches from Auckland Park to the N14 freeway, with 90 potholes.

You can download the Pothole Patrol app on the Apple app store as well as Google Play. 

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