How South Africa’s farmers can navigate costly pothole damage

3 min read 01 March 2023

Potholes and poorly maintained roads threaten the livelihoods of countless South African farmers who are an integral part of the country's food supply. They compromise the freshness of their produce by forcing drivers to navigate uneven roads, extending commutes, and endangering their lives because drivers often can’t determine whether a puddle of water on the road is a shallow ditch or a pothole that could overturn the vehicle.

A 2022 Agri SA survey points to the enormous cost of South Africa’s poor road maintenance for the proper functioning and growth of the agriculture sector. The survey revealed that farmers relied on road transportation to move approximately 94% of their produce. Furthermore, participants transported produce worth an estimated R23 million by road in the 2021 financial year, with 87% relying on road transportation daily.

The survey details how massive potholes are causing significant damage to agricultural vehicles and increasing transport and vehicle maintenance costs significantly due to these terrible conditions. The survey estimates that the average repair costs and related expenses incurred due to bad road conditions during the 2021 financial year were approximately R200 000 per respondent.

Hanlie Kroese, Segment Solutions at Santam, says potholes increase the risk of agriculture vehicle ownership and can result in considerable losses for farmers. “Farmers in the country’s agriculture sector manage a variety of vehicles, which are subject to extensive wear and tear – especially tyre damage. Potholes, resulting from extreme weather conditions, the lack of maintenance and a significant increase of heavy vehicles using the country’s roads, exacerbate this wear and tear.”

“That’s why, at Santam, we strive to understand the risks involved and the extension that our farmers need to take note of in terms of potholes and damage to tyres,” she adds.

Potholes, fields and corrugated roads can often cause damage to tyres so it’s important that clients know exactly what cover they enjoy under their agricultural insurance policy, and whether they need cover extension such as Santam Agri’s extended cover for tyres.

Here are our safety tips for preventing damage to your car, wheels and tyres.

How to steer clear of potholes:

How potholes can cause damage and the warning signs to watch out for

Potholes are not just unkind to your tyres but could have an effect on various parts of your vehicle:

In recent years, Santam has experienced a significant increase in vehicle claims related to the deterioration of road conditions. Until the condition of roads in South Africa has improved, farmers need to be extra cautious about road conditions and surroundings.

Regardless of how large or small a farmer's operations are, they can visit to find a broker who will help them find a solution that works for them.