In 2017, Eastern Cape provincial legislator, Vicky Knoetze suggested that the province use plastic to build roads. Her idea was rejected then but the Kouga Municipality has come around in 2019. South Africa’s Kouga Municipality is bringing a plastic road to Africa in a move calculated to cut the costs of road maintenance and reduce plastic waste. IOL reports that the first phase will take place in about a month. Woltermade and Koraal Street in Jeffreys Bay will be completely reconstructed.
Horatio Hendricks, Kouga Municipality Mayor, said in a statement, “The backlog in road repairs for our region is estimated to be more than R500 million. While Kouga is strong financially, we simply do not have the rates-base to deal with this backlog decisively. The DA-led Kouga Council has, therefore, been looking for innovative ways to slay this giant since taking power in the municipality in 2016.” The project will be a joint project between the local companies, SP Excel Holdings, Scribante Construction, and Scottish firm, MacRebur.
Vicky Knoetze, the visionary, was delighted with the outcome and explained that “Non-recyclable plastic waste, which ends up in the ocean or clogging up landfill sites, is processed into pellets and used to replace a large component of the bitumen in a conventional asphalt mix. The result is stronger and more durable. Water, the main cause of potholes, does not penetrate it as easily as with traditional asphalt mixes and it is also more heat resistant.”
Plastic roads have been touted as the next big thing by some while others remain skeptical. It seems to be a debate that will rage on for a while but for cash-strapped African economies, economic efficiency should be a chief consideration. The Zwolle modular plastic roads, in the Netherlands, are two to three times more durable than conventional roads and this bolsters the case for their adoption. Construction also takes around two-thirds less time, ultimately reducing costs. South Africa’s Kouga Municipality is onto something.