Official Opening of the Merweville Road | Western Cape Government

Speeches

Official Opening of the Merweville Road

7 August 2015

Speech by Donald Grant, Minister of Transport and Public Works

  • Programme Director, Mr Wally Silbernagl.
  • Executive Mayor of the Karoo District Municipality, Councillor EZ Njadu.
  • Executive Mayor of the Beaufort West Municipality, Alderman Truman Prince.
  • Cllr Jan Bostander, and other representatives from the Karoo District and Beaufort West Municipalities.
  • Dominee Herman Burger van die VGK Kerk.
  • Juan Prodehl and other senior officials of the Department of Transport and Public Works.
  • The project teams from both my department, and the District Municipality.
  • Invited guests.
  • Ladies and gentlemen.
  • Good morning, Goeie more, Molweni.

It is an honour to mark the completion of this Merveville Road project.

This project, like many of its kind, is a testament to what can be achieved through partnerships between different tiers of government, in the delivery of essential socio-economic infrastructure to the citizens of the Western Cape.

This three phase construction and upgrading of the access road to Merweville from the N1, has been over six years in the making, with phase one having commenced in January 2009. The first two phases of the project, undertaken by the Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works, cost R43 million.

The scope of the work has covered close to 5 km, and has included the initial construction of the road and the subsequent upgrading of the road from a gravel road to a surfaced road. The third phase was implemented by the Karoo district Municipality, in partnership with the Department of Transport and Public Works.

Phase 1 consisted of:

  • The laying of culvert crossings.
  • The cutting and filling of the road where required.
  • The construction of layerworks and a 13 mm single slutty seal to improve rideability.

Phase 2 (upgrading from gravel to surfaced road) consisted of:

  • Mass earthworks.
  • The importing and construction of a 150 mm sub base and 125 mm base course.
  • The construction of a single seal.
  • The excavation and construction of new stormwater culverts and earth side drains.

One directional bypasses were also constructed on either side of the road to accommodate traffic.

During the first two phases of the project, over 20% of the spend was on BEE subcontractors, 6.5% on BEE suppliers, and another 15% on local labour.

In this province, of the total surfaced road network of 6 485.80 km, 5775.73 km are classified as being in fair to very good condition (89%). Of the just over 32 000 km of provincial road in total, 20% is surfaced but this 20% carries 95% of all traffic.

Over the past six years, the Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works has also managed to reduce its road maintenance backlog by over 16%, adding to the general overall improvement of the province’s surfaced roads network.

Our gravel roads network tells a slightly different story, with only 35% of these roads rated as fair to very good. What is worth noting, however, is that only 5% of vehicle kilometers are travelled on the gravel road network. As the backlog on surfaced roads is reeled in, so will the maintenance of gravel roads be increased, and the more important ones, like the Merweville Road, surfaced.

In a study conducted in the U.S. state of Minnesota, titled “Economics of Upgrading an Aggregate Road” in 2005, it was found (amongst other findings) that the cost of road maintenance and the cost of the upgrade are necessary considerations for a decision to upgrade a road. It is generally understood that the cost of maintaining a gravel road increases with the traffic volume. As traffic volume increases, the road becomes rougher more quickly and this necessitates more frequent surface smoothing with road graders. It is also understood that more gravel is thrown off the road or blown away as dust, necessitating more gravel replacement. One argument for upgrading aggregate/gravel roads is the potential savings from lower maintenance costs. However, this must be balanced against the investment required for the upgrade.

As in the case of Minnesota, these are considerations that we too must grapple with.

The study also found that paved roads provide certain advantages over gravel roads in several ways that cannot easily be assigned monetary values.

  • Smoother surfaces that increase road user satisfaction and reduce vehicle maintenance costs.
  • Reduction in fugitive dust emissions.
  • Improved vehicle and driver efficiency that reduces fuel costs and driver fatigue.
  • Redistribution of traffic away from other gravel roads (reducing maintenance requirement) as road users preferentially select paved roads.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen

Road infrastructure is an important factor for the productivity, safety, and future development of this country, and the Western Cape in particular. Roads serve a multitude of purposes and are used daily by the many that rely so heavily on them. 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.

An investment in roads and other crucial infrastructure is particularly important in stimulating growth for this region. During last year’s Provincial and Municipal Economic Reviews and Outlooks speech, my Cabinet colleague Dr Ivan Meyer – Western Cape Minister of Finance – made mention of how the Central Karoo District (CKD) economy was heavily impacted by the 2009 recession with growth stalling in 2009.

The District later began to show signs of recovery in 2010, growing by 2.3%. Growth then accelerated to 3.9% in 2011 and thereafter tapered off to 1.7% in 2013, then reaching an average 2% in 2014. There is no doubt that this investment in roads infrastructure will aid the economy of the region greatly, and act as a catalyst for further developments that will benefit the people of this region, and the Western Cape as a whole.

Ladies and Gentlemen

We will continue to do our part to plan, construct, rehabilitate and maintain the provincial road network, as a valued and strategic asset of this government. 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. Our roads are an asset with an approximate value of R68 billion, gradually taking strain with continued consumption.

Road infrastructure is an important factor for the productivity, safety and satisfaction in a country. Roads are used daily for a variety of reasons, and in order to build and maintain roads, costs are often high for the government. A poor road quality could also lead to potential accidents and carelessness Road infrastructure is an important factor for the productivity, safety and satisfaction in a country. Roads are used daily for a variety of reasons, and in order to build and maintain roads, costs are often high for the government. A poor road quality could also lead to potential accidents and carelessness. In 2011, road injuries were among the ten leading causes of death worldwide, taking about 1.26 million lives that year.

Not only does the government have to appropriately divide the territory, it is also important that these roads have a high efficiency to allow commuters to reach their preferred destinations with as few struggles as possible. This is particularly important in larger countries, where cities are further spread out from each other. In terms of mileage, the United States has the longest and largest road network in the world, with approximately 6.6 million kilometres of paved or unpaved roads, while road density is highest in Western Europe and Asia. Monaco is ranked as the country with the highest road network density, followed by Macau (one of the two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China). Road infrastructure is an important factor for the productivity, safety and satisfaction in a country. Roads are used daily for a variety of reasons, and in order to build and maintain roads, costs are often high for the government. A poor road quality could also lead to potential accidents and carelessness. In 2011, road injuries were among the ten leading causes of death worldwide, taking about 1.26 million lives that year.

Not only does the government have to appropriately divide the territory, it is also important that these roads have a high efficiency to allow commuters to reach their preferred destinations with as few struggles as possible. This is particularly important in larger countries, where cities are further spread out from each other. In terms of mileage, the United States has the longest and largest road network in the world, with approximately 6.6 million kilometers of paved or unpaved roads, while road density is highest in Western Europe and Asia. Monaco is ranked as the country with the highest road network density, followed by Macau (one of the two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China). Road infrastructure is an important factor for the productivity, safety and satisfaction in a country. Roads are used daily for a variety of reasons, and in order to build and maintain roads, costs are often high for the government. A poor road quality could also lead to potential accidents and carelessness. In 2011, road injuries were among the ten leading causes of death worldwide, taking about 1.26 million lives that year.

Not only does the government have to appropriately divide the territory, it is also important that these roads have a high efficiency to allow commuters to reach their preferred destinations with as few struggles as possible. This is particularly important in larger countries, where cities are further spread out from each other. In terms of mileage, the United States has the longest and largest road network in the world, with approximately 6.6 million kilometers of paved or unpaved roads, while road density is highest in Western Europe and Asia. Monaco is ranked as the country with the highest road network density, followed by Macau (one of the two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China). Road infrastructure is an important factor for the productivity, safety and satisfaction in a country. Roads are used daily for a variety of reasons, and in order to build and maintain roads, costs are often high for the government. A poor road quality could also lead to potential accidents and carelessness. In 2011, road injuries were among the ten leading causes of death worldwide, taking about 1.26 million lives that year.

Not only does the government have to appropriately divide the territory, it is also important that these roads have a high efficiency to allow commuters to reach their preferred destinations with as few struggles as possible. This is particularly important in larger countries, where cities are further spread out from each other. In terms of mileage, the United States has the longest and largest road network in the world, with approximately 6.6 million kilometres of paved or unpaved roads, while road density is highest in Western Europe and Asia. Monaco is ranked as the country with the highest road network density, followed by Macau (one of the two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China).

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.

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.

With the road now complete, I wish all the users of this improved stretch of our road network a smooth and pleasant commute. May it build the economy, catalyse growth in this region, and improve safety.

Thank you.

Media Enquiries: 

Siphesihle Dube
Spokesperson for Minister of Transport and Public Works, Donald Grant
Tel: 021 483 8954
Cell: 084 233 3811
E-mail: siphesihle.dube@westerncape.gov.za