Scary stories from a lovely place
Potholes? That’s right, potholes. As a once Australian driver I have often been surprised by the trepidation South African’s express at hearing there are potholes on a road they are planning on travelling along. News of potholes creates conversations that go on for at least fifteen minutes, encourage animated re-retelling of this or that frightening (because of the potholes, not carjackings) drive at night and solicit confusion from any Kwera Kwera, so long as the foreigner is not from another African country.
Driving in Jozi brings many adventures to which the Kwera Kwera must become accustomed if he or she wants to complete a car journey unscathed. I have finally learned, after living here for two and a half years that the potholes in Jozi are indeed fear-worthy. They can and will irrepairably damage a car. They have no respect for good driving skills or a flimsy suspension. After a recent, lengthy and very expensive stay with my lovely mechanic Andre, my car still rattles and bumps in ways it shouldn’t because of my lack of fear for Jozi’s potholes. Now I swerve to avoid them at all costs.
Recently I was driving along Emmarentia Ave by the Parkview Golf course and I came across a particularly nasty pothole, the kind that would have rendered my car un-driveable for the rest of the way home. I swerved wildly, no doubt going a little too fast on the straight road, into the other lane, in the split second glad that there were no cars coming towards me. It was worth the risk.
These potholes often morph, overnight it would seem, into large, car sized holes of varying depth. One such hole that is forever being formed and filled and formed again, is at the bottom of Melville, at the corner of Emmarentia Ave and 9th Ave, opposite the Service Station. Residents of Melville like to complain, but I think in this instance they are justified. Recently some such residents took the initiative, capitalising on the World Cup’s ‘Feel it – It’s here’ hype. They erected a safety barrier around the hole and decorated it with Vuvzelas and Banksy style graffiti, with the tagline ‘Fix it – They’re here’. I was so impressed with this creative display of dissension.