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More than a billion rand has been allocated to maintaining roads in Gauteng, the transport MEC has announced in his budget.
THE Gauteng provincial government has allocated R1,2-billion to maintain roads in the province, out of an overall budget of R6,2-billion.


MEC for transport Ismail VadiMEC for transport Ismail VadiThis was announced by the MEC for roads and transport, Ismail Vadi, in his first departmental budget speech, which he delivered on 5 July to the Gauteng legislature. Vadi allocated an overall budget of R6,2-billion to fund a broad range of programmes relating to roads and transport.

He said the department’s roads infrastructure and maintenance programme represented the most important of the department’s projects to ensure an excellent road network in the province.

“In recent times potholes have become a matter of public concern and social and legal activism. A pothole is a daily irritant to motorists. It is ugly; it is an eyesore on our roads landscape. It damages vehicles and it poses a danger both to pedestrians and motorists alike.

“With my counterparts in the municipalities, we have launched an aggressive campaign to repair potholes on both municipal and provincial roads. Our partnership with Lead SA’s Pothole Brigade in Johannesburg has also yielded good results. Together, we have on average repaired 40 000 potholes monthly.”

Money spent on the repairs, maintenance and construction of roads had multiplier economic effects, he said. For example, the department aimed to create at least 5 000 jobs opportunities through its road repair and maintenance programme.

“My focus will be on the department’s road maintenance and construction programme; its public transport and logistics mandate; g-Fleet; Gautrain; and the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project. This represents 9 percent of the total Gauteng provincial budget,” he said.

The Annual Paved Road Network Assessment for 2010 showed that out of the total extent of the provincial paved road networks of 4 248 kilometres, 9 percent of the roads is in very good condition; 27 percent is in good condition; 33 percent is in fair condition; 20 percent is in poor condition; and 11 percent in very poor condition.


The Pat Mbatha Highway lining Johannesburg to SowetoThe Pat Mbatha Highway linking Johannesburg to Soweto“These statistics are disturbing as the international benchmark is that a country’s road network should not have more than 10 percent in a poor and very poor condition; provincially we are now at 31 percent,” he said. “The asset value associated with the current condition of the network is approximately R39-billion.”

He pointed out that if the road network had been maintained at the “very good” condition level, its asset value would have been R51-billion, “so we have witnessed a net asset loss of 23,5 percent in less than five years”.

Traffic congestion
At the same time, traffic volumes were extremely heavy. In total, 66 million vehicle-kilometres – the total distance travelled by all vehicles in one day – were travelled by about four million cars every day in Gauteng.

He said the department had therefore taken a strategic decision to focus on repairing, maintaining and rehabilitating the roads rather than on constructing new ones.

As the economy expanded, the population grew and transport demands increased; therefore, the department was constantly upgrading infrastructure. Upgrades included, among other roads, on the R55, Malibongwe Drive, William Nicol Drive, and Adcock Road, between Dobsonville and Protea Glen.

Vadi spoke of the realities on the roads and in public transport: “potholes, traffic congestion, lack of safety of taxis and trains, inadequate and unreliable public transport, taxi violence, and shortly, an etolling system on some of our freeways that will constitute an additional transportation cost to motorists”.

It should be evident that the province’s transport system affected the lives of the citizens in a very real way.

It was for this reason that he had prioritised the designing of a 25-year Integrated Transport Master Plan (Committee to steer mobility Category: News/Transport) (ITMP25) for Gauteng, Vadi said. “I have established a high-level committee of experts to develop an ITMP25.”

Freeway Improvement Project
“The Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project [GFIP] is designed to upgrade approximately 560 kilometres of provincial roads. Phase A1 of the project has upgraded 185 kilometres of the existing road network, largely through bonds issued by the South African National Roads Agency Limited. The department welcomes the release of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project – Steering Committee Report, which recommends a 20 percent reduction in the proposed etag toll tariffs.”


New on- and off-ramps have been built on the province's highwaysGauteng's Freeway Improvement ProjectIf road maintenance and construction was one of the focal points of the department, he added, the other was public transport and transport logistics.

“What is clear, though, is that already important strides have been taken in promoting public transport in Gauteng. Both the Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit in Johannesburg and the Gautrain are initiatives that have received international and national acclaim. But much more needs to be done.”

At the same time, an integration committee had been established to investigate the possibilities of electronic fare integration for Gautrain, Metrorail, Rea Vaya, and Metrobus and Gautrans buses.

In his budget, just under R2,2-billion was set aside for the Gautrain, which would soon be running between Johannesburg and Tshwane.

Vadi said: “An important component of this testing [at present of the Gautrain] is the completion of simulated emergency exercises both in Tshwane and in the tunnels beneath Johannesburg.”

More practically, the department would be implementing several projects in the current financial year to promote public transport:

The construction of two public transport transfer facilities in Zandspruit and Bophelong;
The distribution of 3 000 bicycles to promote the Green Campaign and to broaden the use of non-motorised transport among learners;
The establishment of a driving licence testing centre at Walter Sisulu Square in Kliptown; and
The establishment of two regional transport operating licensing administrative bodies in Tshwane and Johannesburg.
Vadi further noted that, in line with the global agenda on sustainable development, the department was obliged to reduce its carbon footprint. Carbon emissions were a leading contributor to global warming and other associated environmental and health problems.

“So, Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and Tshwane – the bicycle race is on,” he said.

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