COMMENT ON EC ROADS BUDGET AND POLICY SPEECH: TOLL ROAD CONCERN

The Democratic Alliance is very disappointed that the MEC of Roads only referred to under- funding of road infrastructure in the Eastern Cape but gave no direction of how her department will catch up the R10 billion backlog in road maintenance that has accumulated over the past 17 years.

She referred to flood damage for which her department has budgeted R140 million while the actual damage totals R400 million.

The DA welcomes the transfer of roads to the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) but would like to point out that the time frames for proclamation of these roads are very important. We also welcome Sanral’s commitment of R1,8 billion towards spending on roads in the Eastern Cape. That injection can make a major turn-around in the dilapidated state of roads in the Eastern Cape.

Lastly, the DA is concerned about the MEC’s referral to the toll strategy of the R72 from Fonteinskloof to Nanaga. The DA will not accept any tolling on the R72 unless there is an alternative route and proper consultation takes place with all stakeholders.

To successfully toll a road, 4 000 vehicles should be using that road per day. According to initial research done, the R72 carries 2 000 vehicles per day, which will make the tolling unviable and over expensive for motorists. It will also create a logistical nightmare for the coastal villages along the route.

Good roads are the veins that will ensure that the heart of the Eastern Cape’s economic growth keeps beating. 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.