MEC FOR ROADS MUST APPLY FOR FUNDING OR PROVINCE WILL MISS OUT

The disappointing R4.7 million increase in the budget of Eastern Cape provincial roads budget for 2011/12 represents a nett overall “nil” increase.

The budget increases from R1.663.661 billion in 2010/11 to R1.668.411 billion in 2011/12.

This lack of focus on increased road maintenance will have a negative long term effect on job creation in the province. An efficient and well maintained road network links markets which in turn links productivity to prosperity and greater job creation. This funding failure keeps more provincial citizens in the trap of poverty due to the limitations of a badly managed road system.

It was unclear in the budget speech of the MEC for Public Works and Transport, Thandiswa Marawu, whether her department would secure a slice of the R22.3 billion in funding available over the next three years from the Dedicated Roads Fund’s S’hamba Sonke Project.

This extra funding came about as a result of ongoing DA pressure on the Minister of Roads to establish a ring fenced road maintenance fund, which has been a core element of the DA’s roads policy for decades.

With R6.4 billion available for 2011/12, this project allows for provinces to audit and classify roads in accordance with South African National Road Network (Sanral) procedure. The emphasis of this project is on a massive pothole repair scheme utilising increased manual labour under the Expanded Public Works Programme.

However, only the early bird will catch this worm. I have posed written legislature questions to the MEC in this regard.

Of further particular concern is the neglect by her department to seriously consider the upgrade of the Tembani Road in the Nelson Mandela Metro.

A petition by affected residents of this community to the department was sent as in July 2010. Seven months have passed since the Speaker’s office acknowledged receipt of the petition.

At the last portfolio committee of Roads and Public Works held in February, we were informed that after a meeting with members of the Tembani Road community and officials, there was no need to upgrade this road.

Despite the road being riddled with potholes and problems the committee was informed that the officials drove a sedan car over this road to test the need for rehabilitation.

The handling of the matter in this manner is unprofessional and insulting to motorists using Tembani Road.

I have written to the MEC asking her to intervene.

Where the DA governs we govern better.

As such, I will, with my colleague in parliament, leave no stone unturned to ensure that the MEC ups her game and starts accessing funding from the national department to radically increase road maintenance in this province.