Official Opening of Blanco Road, George
Speech by Donald Grant, Minister of Transport and Public Works
- Programme Director.
- Executive Mayor of the George Municipality, Alderman Charles Standers.
- Deputy Mayor of the George Municipality, Councillor Daniel Maritz.
- Councillors and officials of the George and Eden District.
- Dr Willie Cilliers, President of the George Business Chamber.
- Officials of the Department of Transport and Public Works.
- The project team.
- Representatives of SNA Civil Engineering and Baseline, our contractors.
- Invited guests.
- Ladies and gentlemen.
- All protocols observed.
Good morning, Goeie more, Molweni,
It is an honour to be here today to open the much-awaited Blanco Road here in George. This R108 million project has been 15 months in the making, with work having begun in February 2014. This road will have far-reaching economic benefits for this region, serving to connect the Herold’s Bay area, to George and surrounds.
In 1066 het Willem die Veroweraar gesê “My land was nog nooit so ryk dat dit swak paaie kan bekostig nie”. Alhoewel dit nie so lank gelede is nie, het ek ook volgehou dat paaie ’n integrale en noodsaaklike deel van die breër vervoerstelsel is. ’n Land se padnetwerk moet doeltreffend wees om sodoende ekonomiese- en maatskaplike voordele te maksimaliseer. Paaie speel 'n belangrike rol in die bereiking van nasionale ontwikkeling deur ’n bydra te lewer aan die algehele prestasie en maatskaplike funksionering van die gemeenskap. Dit word erken dat paaie mobiliteit verbeter, en sodoende mense uit isolasie en armoede neem deur toegang tot ekonomiese geleenthede te skep. Om hierdie rede moet enige nasie wat streef na werklike ontwikkeling, vervoer en paaie prioritiseer as die vernaamste aansporing vir die ontwikkeling van verskeie ander sektore.
In Singapore for instance, the roads network has been internationally recognised as being amongst the best in the world, with many accolades given to the Singaporean Land Transportation Authority for taking proactive measures in ensuring that engineering design incorporates road safety measures before and after a road is built. These measures include regular safety audits, identifying threats and accident-prone locations and providing road engineering solutions at targeted locations. Other innovations employed by the Singaporean government include installation of Your-Speed-Signs (YSS - which are radar speed signs), traffic calming measures, curve alignment markers and advance warning lights. This authority regularly keeps abreast with road safety technology and adopts best practices in road construction and safety initiatives.
These are examples that our roads must emulate if we intend for our network to perform optimally in playing its role in fostering real economic growth that creates jobs while providing road safety features.
Our department has not shied away from this challenge. In keeping with our vision to lead in the delivery of government infrastructure and related services, our unyielding mission remains to deliver infrastructure and services to promote socio-economic outcomes and safe, empowered and connected communities. We will undoubtedly continue to create opportunities for growth and jobs, as is our commitment under Provincial Strategic Goal 1 (PSG 1).
Our R2.77 billion budgetary allocation for road construction and maintenance in this financial year alone, 2015/2016, is testament to how much value we place on this crucial asset. Of the just over 32 000 km of provincial road, 20% is surfaced but this 20% carries 95% of all traffic. Our roads are an asset with an approximate value of R68 billion and are consumed over time.
Let us turn our attention to the road we see before us. This project has indeed been a test of our delivery capabilities - a test that we have passed with flying colours. Construction covered a total 19.22kms, and has included reseal and structural work, culvert extension, and even the construction of a new bridge. The socio-economic need for this project is demonstrated in, amongst other things, how much traffic this road has to carry. Studies show that on any given day, this road will be used by some 3562 vehicles, of which 188 are heavy vehicles. These are indeed high traffic volumes for a road that was last refurbished in 1992, 23 years ago.
Empowerment has played a huge role in this project, with 38 983 person days of labour created, all sourced locally, with 25% taken up by women.
Over R8.2 million has been spent on local labour, with close to R2 million spent on the appointment of a local emerging contractor. Local sub-contractor Qualcon Civils CC was awarded the emerging contractor tender for the channelling and drainage works during the project, with Baseline, the main contractor, providing mentorship to this emerging contractor. The effect of this road construction should, in this way, be felt in the area for years to come.
With the project having now been completed, I am sure that many residents and businesses in the area will look forward to the many benefits that will come their way. I should like to thank the project team and contractors for their dedication and commitment to service delivery excellence, as well as our partners that have also worked tirelessly to ensure the project is a success. We cannot stress the importance of roads in this region and in South Africa in general. The obvious benefits compel us to continue to invest in road planning, construction, rehabilitation, and maintenance. This need has only been exacerbated by the prolonged underinvestment in rail, both passenger and freight rail, in South Africa. It is ultimately in all of our interests, and in the interests of the economy of South Africa, to work towards ensuring that more heavy traffic is moved off our roads, and back onto rail. I will continue to do all I can towards realising this important goal.
In fact, my department is working closely with a well-developed private initiative to revitalise an important stretch of rail for freight and passenger transport in this area. Until this sort of initiative comes to fruition, roads like this Blanco Road will continue to carry an added burden and we will have an obligation to ensure their development and maintenance.