What’s app, JRA?

What’s app, JRA?

The state of Gauteng’s road infrastructure is a favourite subject of mine – its aging, crumbling foundations being the ire of daily commuters. This month, for a change, a round of applause is in order

While the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) does a praiseworthy job of keeping the country’s national road network in tip-top condition, it’s often a different story on a more micro, city level. The Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA), for example, is often lambasted for the state of the city’s roads. While some of them – the busy main roads in particular – receive a fair amount of maintenance, the majority are, indeed, perceptibly crumbling.

Following the emergence of countless potholes – or should that be disappearance of sections of road – around Gauteng, a few very wet months ago (see Wheel Nut, FOCUS April), the province launched a campaign to fix most of the potholes and pledged billions of rand for infrastructure upgrades. It seems to have made good on its promise to fix most of the potholes, and the JRA, too, seems to be taking a hint – aiming to be more proactive.

The JRA is, of course, responsible for the maintenance, repair and development of Johannesburg’s road network, traffic lights and signage, as well as the storm water infrastructure, including bridges and culverts.

In an attempt to improve its business and get more in touch with residents, the agency launched its own, free Find&Fix app for mobile devices across the Windows Mobile, Android and Apple iOS platforms. According to Skhumbuzo Macozoma, MD of the JRA, the app is a first of its kind to be launched in the southern hemisphere, Middle East, Asia and Africa regions.

“The Find&Fix app will assist the public to report potholes, faulty traffic signals, stormwater drains, manhole covers, and other infrastructure issues related to the JRA,” he says.

The JRA also intends to use the app to increase its own efficiency and productivity. GPS location coordinates and the ability to take and upload photos, allow the agency to more accurately find the problem area and more quickly assess what is required to fix the fault.

The app forms part of a larger service delivery drive called the “just tell us” campaign. The campaign seeks to stimulate Johannesburg’s “Active Citizenry” focus, which promotes active involvement of citizens in the City’s service delivery activities.

In addition to the app, the JRA has implemented an email address (hotline@jra.org.za), as well as its twitter (@MyJra) and Facebook accounts, to allow residents to interact on platforms convenient to them. There is also the JRA’s customer contact centre (0860 562 874).

To prove its intent, the JRA is also launching a service delivery mailbox for service frustrations that have not been resolved the first time, or as promised.

“The JRA is committed to become a centre of engineering excellence with service delivery efficiencies and satisfied customers,” Macozoma says. “The JRA is taking its obligations very seriously. We urge the community to be actively engaged and report issues by using available contact points.”

I’ve downloaded the app, and it’s fast becoming one of the most used on my phone. The JRA should also be applauded for its efforts. It will be interesting to see, though, how long it takes the agency to respond to issues and complete the repair thereafter; considering the potential flood of reports residents will generate by using it.

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