As the nozzle blows fresh bitumen into a gaping pothole, passing motorists flash smiles and thumbs-up signals to the crew who can fix a pothole in a matter of minutes.
This grateful response is what spurs Sunrise-on-Sea resident Martin Harmse, 45, on to spend his time and money on firing up his jet patcher and filling up the potholes everyone detests.
Harmse acquired the R2-million vehicle about three years ago, but when it is not being leased by other towns to smooth out their roads, it has been gathering dust here in East London.
“I could not drive past life threatening potholes on roads like Sunrise Drive and Schafli Road and not do something about it,” said Harmse, who owns Border Hazmat and who showed the Daily Dispatch how quickly and permanently the jet patcher works.
The father-of-two was prompted into action after seeing many tyres being damaged by massive craters in the East Coast Resorts roads.
“I see women with children getting stuck on the road after hitting a pothole and I imagine that happening to my wife and children. I just wanted to help with the pothole problem.”
On days when there is a lull in business, Harmse deploys a small team of his employees and heads for the pitted streets. He has fixed dozens of potholes on Sunrise Drive, which prompted appreciative members of the community to start a kitty to cover his costs.
Earlier this week Harmse put his jet patcher to work once again on the perilous potholes that pepper Schafli Road.
“Some of the potholes were 300mm deep and in the middle of a bridge giving motorists nowhere to swerve to avoid them. We picked the dangerous, life threatening potholes and repaired them.
“I really enjoy doing it. Yes it costs money, but you can’t put monetary value on people’s lives. It feels great when people drive past and shout ‘I love you’. But some are aggressive and say ‘about time’ and complain about their broken rims until I explain I am doing it for nothing.
Harmse’s jet patcher the only one in the Eastern Cape – works by first blowing out pothole debris before the same nozzle blasts out bitumen and stone into the cavity. The patch is then sealed with a layer of bitumen.
“The potholes I repaired three years ago are still intact so it’s great to help the community this way.” — firstname.lastname@example.org