- Joburgers have been tagging the ANC with spray-painted messages all over Johannesburg.
- In an unrelated move, rivals Discovery Insure and Dialdirect Insurance have been branding their pothole repair work.
- They have fixed more than 150 000 potholes since the initiative was launched in May 2021.
- For more financial news, go to the News24 Business front page.
While some Joburg residents are expressing their anger over a lack of service delivery by tagging the ANC with spray-painted pothole graffiti, two competing insurance companies are punting their own brand while fixing them.
The branding and repair initiative by Discovery Insure and Dialdirect Insurance, however, is unrelated to the recent surge in luminous road messages by irate motorists.
Not only does the initiative between the two rivals date back almost two years to May 2021, but it was also launched in partnership with the City of Johannesburg, who gave the go-ahead for the branding exercise.
Discovery Insure said on Wednesday said it wanted to clarify that the “Pothole Patrol” partnership between the two companies obtained permission from the City of Johannesburg to “brand potholes” when the initiative was launched in 2021.
It said the branding was a way for the two “to track and monitor our repairs and has the stamp of approval from the City of Johannesburg and the JRA (Johannesburg Roads Agency)”.
“It is also a visual reminder to Johannesburg road users that they can report potholes to Pothole Patrol by simply downloading the Pothole Patrol app on the Apple App or Google Play store,” said Discovery Insure.
Joburg potholes tagged with ANC graffiti. Picture: Twitter/@spkruger99
Anneli Retief, head of Dialdirect Insurance, said the campaign had resulted in more than 150 000 potholes being repaired so far.
There are also strict definitions over what constitutes a proper pothole, with Retief saying that The Pothole Patrol was mandated by the City of Johannesburg to repair potholes “measuring 1m by 1m”.
“Anything bigger than this, or deeper than 5cm is referred to as a reinstatement. Reinstatements, road excavations and deep trenches or cracks occur as a result of digging during road construction or for creating a passage for the laying of services such as pipes and cables. As such, they are not classified as potholes.”
These “reinstatements” are then “escalated” to the JRA while road defects caused by underlying water damage are referred to Joburg Water, said Retief.
Discovery said the work done so far equated to about 250 potholes being fixed every day. This included the 75km stretch of the R556 leading to Sun City, as well as a 6km piece of road in Muldersdrift that had 90 potholes.
The two companies’ handiwork is also being shared on social media including Reddit and Facebook, with South Africans by and large voicing their support for the initiative even as they criticised the ANC.
On SA Crime Watch’s Facebook page, a picture of a repaired pothole with the Discovery and Dialdirect names emblazoned on it drew more than 22 000 reactions and multiple comments with more than 3 600 shares.
One Facebook user Tshokolo Buthelezi welcomed the two companies branding their repair work, saying: “People must know that it’s not the ANC that fixed the potholes!”.
Another, Martin Snyman, said: “This must be so embarrassing for the ANC, oh no wait – they have no pride!”
Zakhele Jerome Dladla said this also afforded “the opportunity to other parties who want to govern in SA”.
“Let them fix potholes so that we would know what they can do for the country.”
Separately, Discovery said it appreciated the “frustration of many motorists with the state of our roads” and encouraged them to report potholes, by logging a call with the City of Johannesburg call centre on 0860 562 874 and choosing option 5 for the JRA.