Official Opening of the Vlaeberg and Lynedoch Service Road Stellenbosch
Speech by Donald Grant, Minister of Transport and Public Works
- Programme Director.
- Executive Mayor of the Stellenbosch Municipality, Alderman Conrad Sidego.
- Representatives of the Stellenbosch Municipality.
- Mr Louis Beukes and other representatives from PRASA.
- Senior officials of the Department of Transport and Public Works.
- The project team.
- Representatives of Power Construction and EFG Engineers, our contractors.
- Invited guests.
- Ladies and gentlemen.
Good morning, Goeie more, Molweni,
It is always an honour to mark the completion of projects like this one, that showcase our ability as Government, in partnership with various stakeholders, to deliver essential socio-economic infrastructure to the citizens of the Western Cape. This R310 Vlaeberg and Lynedoch Roads project is one such project, where a R215 million investment has made the following possible:
- The dualling of a section of MR168.
- The re-alignment of Vlaeberg Road.
- The construction of Lynedoch access road.
- The construction of major structures such as a pedestrian bridge-over-railway line, road-over-rail bridge, river culverts, and 4 cattlecreeps.
The project has covered close to 10 km of road, over a construction period of nearly 24 months.
Road infrastructure is an important factor for the productivity, safety, and future development of any country. Roads are used daily for a variety of reasons, and in order to build and maintain these roads, costs incurred by any government are very high. A continued investment in roads is certainly a worthwhile one as the inverse, an underinvestment resulting in poor road quality, is known to have negative consequences for both the economy and overall safety.
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is the responsibility of any government to ensure that roads are of a high standard and are efficient in their purpose. They must provide minimal disruptions to journeys made by the thousands that rely on them to travel between various destinations. This is particularly important in larger countries, where cities are further spread out from each other. In terms of mileage, the United States of America has the longest and largest road network in the world, with approximately 6.6 million kilometres of both surfaced and unsurfaced roads, while road density is highest in Western Europe and Asia. Interestingly, Monaco is ranked as the country with the highest road network density, primarily by virtue of its size. What is true for all of these countries and regions is that they have invested in and continue to invest heavily in their roads network as a key driver of their respective economies. This is a commitment that South Africa should seek to emulate. Certainly, the Western Cape Government takes its responsibilities in this regard seriously.
Roads remain a crucial asset internationally. 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 but as is the case with most assets they are consumed over time.
A crucial component of all projects undertaken by the Department of Transport and Public Works is empowerment. This project is an example of our investment in the empowerment of emerging contractors, skills training and transfer, and the employment of local labour over the duration of the project.
Our Contractor Development Programme was also successfully implemented on this project. The objectives of the National Contractor Development Programme (NCDP) are to:
- Increase representatively of all categories and grades.
- Improve grading status of previously disadvantaged contractors.
- Improve the performance of Emerging Contractors.
- Improve business and management skills of Emerging Contractors.
Allowance was made for the Mentoring and Training of Emerging Contractors. Their performance was also evaluated for inclusion on the database and consideration on future Roads Projects. For key elements of the project, three emerging contractors were appointed:
- Vlaeberg River Culvert : Ikhampasi Construction cc
- Vlaeberg Road Underpass: Ikhampasi Construction cc
- Sanddrift River Culvert : Ruja Construction
- Vlaeberg Road Underpass : Saclawa Enterprises cc
These emerging contractors will enjoy the benefit of the training that they received in the duration of this project for many projects to come, having now gained an added advantage through expanding their service offering. A total of R27 million was allocated to targeted previously disadvantaged individuals (PDI) enterprises. R9.5 million was spent on local labour, amounting to a total of 42 419 person days. A total of 343 individual job opportunities were created over the duration of the project.
Ladies and Gentlemen
The Department of Transport and Public Works remains committed to our vision to lead in the delivery of government infrastructure and related services. Our mission will continue to be to deliver infrastructure and services that promote socio-economic outcomes and safe, empowered, and connected communities. Creating opportunities for growth and jobs, as is our commitment under Provincial Strategic Goal 1 (PSG 1) remains a focus of not only this department, but that of the Western Cape Government.
With the project having now been completed, the over 14 000 daily commuters, residents, and businesses in this 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, PRASA and the Stellenbosch Municipality, that have also worked tirelessly to ensure that the project is a success.
We cannot overstress the importance of roads in this region and in South Africa in general. The obvious benefits encourage us to continue to invest in road planning, construction, rehabilitation, and maintenance. Roads are an integral part of the wider transport system. A road network in any country should be efficient in order to maximise economic and social benefits. Roads play a significant role in achieving national development and contributing to the overall performance and social functioning of the community. It is acknowledged that roads enhance mobility, taking people out of isolation and therefore poverty. For this reason, any nation seeking real development must prioritise transport as the main stimulant for development in other sectors.
I wish all the users of this improved stretch of our road network well in the use of this facility. May it build the economy, strengthen social and family ties, and open new areas to our people.