The Eastern Cape High Court (Grahamstown) has granted the Eastern Cape Roads and Public Works Department leave to appeal a far-reaching judgment allowing farmers to fix their own damaged dirt roads and then bill the government, says a Daily Dispatch report. In March the court ordered the department to immediately begin implementing plans to repair and maintain its extensive and largely dysfunctional rural road network.

Significantly, the judgment set out strict conditions under which farmers can themselves arrange to have damaged gravel roads repaired and then bill the government for the work done.

Agri EC last year brought the application in which they successfully sought to compel the department to take action and repair and maintain damaged rural roads which, they said, were having a devastating effect on agricultural and rural economies. The department appealed the far-reaching order, indicating it believed it would have the effect of allowing farmers to access a significant portion of the department’s budget by bypassing normal procurement procedures. But Judge Judith Roberson said she had deliberately built in enough safeguards to avoid this happening. However, Roberson has now granted the department leave to appeal her judgment to the SCA.

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