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2011-09-21 08:28

CASH SINKHOLES: It's costing UK vehicle owners more to have their cars fixed after hitting a pothole than it would the local authority to fix the holes in the first place.

LONDON, England – Municipalities across the UK are shelling out every day to irate motorists with the equivalent of around R2200 the average compensation for vehicles damaged by potholes.

There were 22 000 successful claims through 2010; a warning to what South Africa can expect if the government and municipalities prevaricate on road maintenance.


The reality in Britain is that shoddy road maintenance costs drivers six times more than it would cost cities to fix the roads in the first place.

For many, insurance is not an option. Simon Douglas of AA Insurance said: “Drivers are unwilling to claim as they risk losing their no-claim bonus. The cost of the wheel/tyre/suspension repair may be less than the rise in premium.”

Worse still, the British government has told the UK Highways Agency to ignore, from 2015, motorway potholes smaller than a soup bowl. With UK increases in fuel duty and road tax it leaves motorists outraged at the news.

Chris Reagan of Coventry pays the equivalent of about R7000 road tax on his Audi A6 Allroad. “It is robbery,” he said. “The roads around us are shameful. I use the M69 for my commute. If the motorways become as bad it would be awful.”

Camilla Dyson from Sheffield bought an 18-month old VW Golf two years ago. “I sold the car last week. I got next to nothing for it. It was wrecked. The roads in Sheffield are a disgrace,” she said.


At high-speed, a small pothole can crack a driveshaft. Shock-absorbers fracture easily and a suspension coil spring can snap like a carrot.

Martin Mosley of mail order company Carparts-Direct which supplies steering racks and driveshafts said: “Many customers ask for a detailed invoice to claim from their authority. Our steering racks and driveshafts are remanufactured items so the old part is returned to us when the job is done.

“Some are damaged so badly they are useless. In 25 years I have never known this level of destruction. It is unsafe.”

Successive UK governments know voters won’t put up with Third World schools and hospitals. Third World roads could prove even more unpopular.

Is that an echo we hear coming from South African road-users? Tell us about your pothole experiences.


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