South African Road Federation Annual Regional Members Forum
Speech by Donald Grant, Minister of Transport and Public Works
- Chairperson of the South African Roads Federation.
- Members of the South African Road Federation.
- Ladies and gentlemen.
Roads are an integral part of the wider transport system. A country’s road network 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.
In Singapore for instance, the roads network has been internationally recognised as being amongst the best in the world, with accolades acknowledging 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 light. This authority regularly keeps abreast with road safety technology and adopts best practices in road safety initiatives.
These are examples that our roads must emulate if we intend for our networks to perform optimally in playing their role in real economic growth that creates jobs.
South Africa's total road network is about 747 000 km, the longest network of roads of any African country. The drive from Musina on South Africa's northern border to Cape Town in the south is a 2 000 km journey on well-maintained roads. While the National Department of Transport is responsible for overall policy, road-building and maintenance is the responsibility of the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) as well as the nine provinces and local governments, with Sanral being responsible for the country’s close to 16 200 km of national roads. According to the South African Institute of Civil Engineering, there are about 185 000 km of provincial roads, with the municipal network estimated at around 645 000 km, all of which form part of the backbone of this country’s economy.
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%), while 91% of all vehicle kilometers travelled are on fair to very good roads. Over the past five years, the Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works has also managed to reduce its road maintenance backlog by 16.2%, 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 our gravel 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, compared to the 91% that is travelled on surfaced roads. As the backlog on surfaced roads is reeled in, so will the maintenance of gravel roads be increased, and the more important ones surfaced.
Building Roads for Economic Growth in the Western Cape
In this financial year, 2014/2015, my department will spend in excess of R2 billion on roads development geared towards economic growth in this region. The budget will seek to plan, construct, rehabilitate and maintain the provincial road network.
The current budget will see the commencement of the rehabilitation of the last of the problematic surfaced roads, including the R399 Piketberg to Veldrif, to be continued in the outer years from Piketberg to Porterville.
Some Highlights of the Budget Include:
- Construction of the Gouda weighbridge at a cost of R135 million to prevent trucks using the R44 and the R46 to avoid being weighed.
- Completion of the Hemel-en-Aarde surfacing at a cost of R190 million.
- Completion of Gansbaai to Elim surfacing at a cost of R295 million.
- Rehabilitation of Nuwekloof to Wolsely and Worcester to Bainskloof at a total cost of R501 million.
- R311 million will be spent on improving roads in the Stellenbosch catchment areas, including Baden Powell, Annandale and Winery Roads. These improvements will include the elimination of 11 level crossings.
Our roads department will spend some R710 million on roads with the specific intention of generating significant economic growth. The Saldanha, Vredenburg and Langebaan area will see continued spending on roads infrastructure in support of the evolving Saldanha Industrial Development Zone (IDZ), including a direct road to the back of the port.
The Borchards Quarry intersection on the N2 will be aligned with Eisleben Road to give access to the important economic potential of the Phillippi/Samora Machel area, and link with projects already underway there. This R235 million project is set to commence in 2015.
It is estimated that 23 000 decent jobs could be generated in this area of high current unemployment.
An additional lane in each direction will be added to the N1 at the Durban Road intersection to offset very high levels of congestion. This project is estimated at R207 million and set to commence in 2015.
R8.197 billion is allocated to road construction and maintenance over the MTEF.
Access Management Key to Unlocking Economic Potential
- The Department of Transport and Public Works remains very committed to achieving a road based transport hierarchal network which promotes social and economic development by providing appropriate safe access to adjacent land uses in a way that optimises the needs of all users.
- Access Management Guidelines allow my department to encourage and facilitate land use developments which can promote social and economic development. We continue to move to ensure that appropriate access is provided to adjacent developments from the road network that is safe and efficient for all road users, and that the needs of all road users, irrespective of mode, are optimised in the determination of the nature, type, location and control mechanisms of accesses from the road network.
- Our objective is to provide a consistent and technically sound methodology for the determination of accesses from the road network. We are committed to ensuring that all road and planning authorities within the Western Cape apply principles and recommendations contained in the Access Management Guidelines to ensure that our roads network, in its entirety, is appropriate and optimally equipped to serve the very crucial function that it does.
- As we all know, roads remain a very important public resource. They are expensive to construct, upgrade and maintain, and it is therefore also imperative that they are effectively and efficiently managed. It is irresponsible for any roads authority to allow major arterials which are critical for efficient economic activity to become heavily congested, thereby failing to play their intended role effectively.
- By managing road access, we not only prolong the lives of roads, but also reduce congestion and improve public safety. Not only does proper access management preserve that crucial transportation function, but the knock-on effects are that associated developments are preserved in the long term, and remain economically viable. Improved traffic flow also translates into better fuel efficiency and lower vehicular emissions.
Roads to Improve Public Transport
- In improving access and mobility to boost economic growth and job creation, one cannot ignore the needs of public transport, the major carrier of our workforce. And roads certainly have an integral role to play in this regard. A public transport oriented road, designed to accommodate and balance the needs of all modes of transport, can contribute to the attractiveness and efficiency of public transport, as well as add to the liveability and the social well-being of communities.
- Public Transport operations and infrastructure impact on roads in various ways, most notably when a general traffic lane is dedicated to public transport, thereby reducing the overall capacity available to general traffic. It is still very important, however, for main arterial roads to have due regard for public transport when so many rely on public transport for their economic activities daily.
Young People Are the Future of the Built Environment
I am encouraged to know that the South African Roads Federation shares our passion for nurturing young talent and ensuring that the built environment does not suffer further from the very serious skills shortage that exists in our country. Your commitment to education and training of the younger generation to enter the roads technical field is commendable, and can only be of benefit to this country as a whole. My department, through the Masakh’iSizwe (Let’s Build the Nation) Centre of Excellence and Bursary Scheme, is committed to identifying and promoting young talent that will continue to build the nation. This bursary scheme, established by the Department of Transport and Public Works in 2006, has grown from strength to strength over the years. Hundreds of tertiary students have been afforded the opportunity to pursue degrees or higher diplomas in the disciplines of:
- Construction Management.
- Civil, Electrical, and Mechanical Engineering.
- Quantity Surveying.
- Town and Regional Planning.
Masakh’iSizwe is now the finest built environment bursary scheme in the country. Our students outperform the university average in every way. They have fewer failures, graduate sooner and with better results than their peers. Masakh’iSizwe is much more than a bursary scheme; it is a joint venture between the Department, the private sector partners, and three universities (University of Cape Town, Stellenbosch University, and Cape Peninsula University of Technology) which ensures that our bursary holders are prepared in every way for the leadership, skill and responsibilities that lie ahead of them.
There were 77 graduates last year, and a total of 256 bursars awarded this year. Since inception, the bursary scheme has produced a total of 328 graduates fully equipped to make a positive contribution to this very crucial sector.
The support from our partners has been instrumental to the success of the bursary scheme. They not only offer capital contributions to the bursary, but they also provide internships for our bursars to continue their training.
In conclusion, the importance of roads in this country cannot be stressed enough, necessitating the continued investment in road planning, construction, rehabilitation and maintenance. The prolonged underinvestment in rail, both passenger and freight rail, has no doubt meant that are roads networks will continue to carry the added burden that rail fails to cater for. I have made it a priority to meet a range of decision-makers in Metrorail and Transnet to bring about the necessary recapitalisation and expansion of rail resources in the Western Cape, including specifically in the Cape Town Metropole. I am encouraged by the broad agreement about the need to move heavy traffic off our roads and back onto rail.
I wish the South African Road Federation well in the work that you do to bring industry experts and professionals together to share expertise and sustainable practices in the provision and preservation of our roads network. I look forward to our continued positive interactions that will move us closer and closer to creating an open opportunity society for all South Africans, so that they can live the lives they truly value.