Business Day (Südafrika) - Online-Ausgabe unter vom 17.3.2010

THE INSIDER: Time for SA to celebrate potholes for all seasons

JOBURG motorists who have had to pay up for wheel damage will no doubt applaud the ingenious villagers of Niederzimmern in Thuringia, Germany, who sell potholes for à 50 apiece to pay for road repairs.

Of course, this comes a little too late for our Soccer World Cup. And local bureaucrats find it hard enough as it is to manage money or spend capital budgets without having to get their minds around novel ways of raising funds. Besides, they would rather spend time thinking up excuses for the state of the roads — such as swimming pool backwash and global warming — than actually doing anything about it.

But do stop muttering, dear reader. Be positive. Our potholes are here to stay, so let’s embrace and celebrate them. We can go one better than the good burghers of Niederzimmern. We could sell naming rights to bankroll the African National Congress’s looming municipal election campaign.

Readers can probably think of many people worthy of recognition.

The menacing little sinkhole at the Riviera Road entrance of the Killarney Mall is tailor-made for seldom-seen Lord Mayor Amos Masondo. Unfortunately, no pothole could do justice to the unfathomable Julius Malema.

This hitherto overlooked class of collectible could even give rise to a new form of snobbery.

Snob A: I have two potholes in Houghton.

Snob B: Well, my pothole in Sandhurst is far more upmarket.

Snob C: Cheapskates, I have a dozen potholes on my farm in Eloff Street.

Snobs A & B: Where’s that?

Jo’burg shrinks could offer specials on treating pothole envy.

We could also securitise them and sell them to pension funds (take note Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel, with your covetous eye on R70bn of pensioners’ funds), or set up a new category of collective investment (eponymous potholes). And let’s not neglect the potential for derivatives and futures. Ratings should be easy to come by. Just ask the lovely agencies who brought us the sub-prime crisis.

The possibilities are bottomless.