Johannesburg - Global DuPont Sub-Saharan Africa warned on Friday that South Africa's roads could deteriorate without showing obvious signs of this on the surface, exacerbating the cracks and potholes that are now endemic.
Potholes are costing motorists R50bn in vehicle repairs and injury every year, according to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
Carl Moyo, managing director for DuPont Sub-Saharan Africa, said it was important to address this problem before it resulted in cracks and potholes, which pose a safety risk to drivers.
Moyo's warning comes as millions of South Africans take to the roads as they travel to holiday destinations around the country.
"This means taking pro-active preventative action at the construction phase," Moyo said, adding that to ensure safety on the roads, serious attention must be given to the quality of materials and procedures used to construct them.
"Although the maintenance and upkeep of existing roads is important, it is equally important to ensure that the roads are properly constructed, repaired and maintained, by using appropriate techniques and materials," he said.
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"South Africa has a wealth of talent and resources available - it is just a case of utilising that. When it comes to road safety, no corners can be cut - especially at the construction level," he said.
Moyo said the government could save significant costs associated with protecting roads in the long term, by adopting new construction materials and techniques.
"For example, certain polymers, such as those used in bitumen modification, as well as correct tensile strength geo-textiles can extend and support the longevity of pavement layers. These materials also prevent rutting caused by the constant loading on the pavement layer by high traffic volumes," he said.
Moyo said there were areas where some sections of the roads required immediate intervention.
"If they are not maintained or upgraded as a matter of urgency, these roads will most likely deteriorate and collapse completely, putting drivers at risk. The knock-on effect is of course that the government will have to lay out more funds to rebuild the same roads," he said.
Building and repairing roads that will withstand increasing traffic volumes over an extended period of time is fundamental, Moyo said.
"In our extensive experience, the importance of using the most appropriate materials and techniques, as opposed to the cheapest, is recognised as crucial in ensuring that road surfaces meet the obligatory requirements and specifications for which they were constructed.
"Not only does this make regular maintenance cheaper due to smaller scale, but it dramatically reduces the likelihood of dangerous potholes forming on the road surface," Moyo said.