Good roads are the veins that will ensure that the heart of the Eastern Cape’s economic growth keeps beating. In his recent provincial budget speech the MEC for Finance, Phumulo Masualle, stated that the Eastern Cape had recovered well from a negative economic growth rate of 4,2 % in the second quarter in 2009 to a positive 3 % in the fourth quarter of 2011. He forecast further growth rates upward of 5% by 2016.
The MEC for Roads and Public Works, Thandiswa Marawu, must therefore put steps in place to ensure that the high growth rate predicated by her colleague is realised. The Democratic Alliance hopes that the MEC will refer to the following aspects when she delivers her departmental budget and policy speech in the Bhisho Legislature on Thursday:
1. New money should be allocated to catch up to the R10 million road maintenance backlog in the province;
2. More money must be made available to maintain tar, gravel and access roads to hospitals, emergency services, agricultural centres and tourism site;
3. Clarity should be given about provincial roads to be transferred to Sanral as well as guarantees that these roads will not be tolled because of the transfer.
Meaningful new jobs can be created for the citizens of our province if they have access to proper infrastructure. Our province is geared towards growth because of developments like the East London- and Coega IDZs, agriculture and tourism. However, our current infrastructure plans does not lean towards properly maintained roads. This, in turn, does not create an environment for investment and entrepreneurship. We need to initiate the correct setting for such wealth-creators.