Honourable Speaker, Premier, MECs, Members, Departmental Officials and Guests…Molweni.
Honourable Speaker there are four worrying aspects about the proposed budget for our provincial roads this financial year!
Firstly Speaker, the minute increase of R4,7 million rand in the roads budget represents a nil percentage increase in real terms.
In the last financial year the actual budget was R1,636 billion while this year it has marginally risen to R1,668 billion.
The second area of major concern, Honourable Speaker, is that of a radical decrease in road maintenance budget.
When teasing the sub programme on Roads maintenance, budget allocated is down from an allocated R743,375 million last financial year to R735,188 million this year.
Speaker, I refer to an article from Business Day dated 17 June under the editorial column Opinion and Analyses to an article titled “Build it or they won’t come”
The article warns South Africa on the perils of not maintaining and developing roads, rail and port infrastructure.
I quote :
“If you fall behind,(with regular maintenance) It costs 18 times more to fix roads than to maintain them”.
Honourable Speaker, the third area of concern in this budget is the time it takes to complete road projects in the province.
The project titled “Access roads to hospitals“is one of the anchor projects of the department of Roads in this province.
However Speaker, the slow pace with which these roads are being completed is one of great concern.
The Sulenkama Hospital Road in OR Tambo municipality started in August 2006 and was completed in June 2010. Thus it took four years to complete this 25 kilometre stretch of road.
The Greenville Hospital Road (Phase 2) – a planned 13 kilometres – is due to start in May 2012 with a completion date of March 2014.
This project will take nearly 2 years to complete – 2 years for such a short distance of road.
The T125 Phase 1N2 to Siphetu Hospital, a total distance of 37,5 kilometres, is expected to start in April 2011 – with a completion date of February 2014.
Hon. Speaker, other roads are also slow in being completed within a reasonable time period.
The much vaunted Wild Coast Meander project – Coffee Bay to Zithulele (phase 2) – is an 18 kilometre project with commencement to have started in April 2010, completion is set for March 2014.
The R72 planned toll road, the N2 and Wild Coast Meander was discussed at a transport investor’s conference in Cape Town last week with the Minister of Transport. This has huge potential for additional road revenue…what’s happening here?
Who is responsible for the R72 tolling project – SANRAC or Province? When is this going to start?
Honourable Speaker an article in a supplement of Financial Mail Magazine of 17 June 2011 titled “Renewal”, the opening paragraph states and I quote:
• “A nation’s physical infrastructure is one of the best indicators of likely prosperity.”
• “Investment in infrastructure creates jobs and stimulates economic growth”.
This province is playing games with road infrastructure.
Honourable Speaker this Department needs to find innovative ways to speed up Road Construction in this Province.
In the Free State Province, the Department has asked private companies to design, finance and construct roads in a Public Private Partnership initiative.
The advantages of this are that the road backlog is alleviated.
The DA believes that alternative road surfaces like reinforced concrete and paving stones should be used on certain roads.
Speaker, this would create semi skilled road work for communities residing along these roads . . . they could maintain these roads on a sustained basis.
Speaker, the last area of concern with regards to the budget is the omission by the MEC to mention anything about the S’hamba Sonke project in her budget speech. Why?
While this project is the child of the national department of Transport, it does deal fundamentally with road pothole maintenance and is a core component of the Roads and Public Works department of this province.
This national project Honourable Speaker seeks to create employment on a massive basis in all provinces. This is good news indeed.
Some R6 billion has been allocated nationally with R1 billion coming to the province this financial year.
When launching this project in April this year the Honourable Minister of Transport stated that this province would receive R1 billion funding for this year.
According to the details released by the Minister this province will spend R200 million on contractor programmes over three years and R500 million on Emerging Contractor and Consultant development over three years.
The citizens of this province need ongoing information about this project and the results – especially when there is the growing perception created that there is limited funding for road maintenance.
Speaker, in conclusion.
a) The department must find ways to better fund road maintenance.
b) Increased funding must take place if we are to sustain road construction in the province.
c) Quicker turnaround times are imperative for short road projects
d) The S’haMba Sonke must be better publicised to the community allowing them information on progress of road maintenance and to unlock possible employment opportunities.
I thank you.