The ANC-led government nationally and provincially has invested heavily in road and public transport infrastructure in the past decade. This investment has been on improving our freeway and provincial road networks, the Gautrain, the modernisation of Metrorail and the rollout of bus rapid transit systems in metropolitan municipalities. No government before has invested so heavily in such a wide array of public transport systems.
The injection of funds into transport projects is meant to facilitate improved mobility, allow for social inclusion, stimulate economic growth and enable the development of small and emerging contractors. It also is aimed at maintaining the road network in a good condition so as to improve road safety.
The Department continues to promote infrastructure-led economic growth at a time when the global economy, including our own, is experiencing a downturn. It continues to deliver on its mandate based on the triple goals of transformation, modernisation and reindustrialisation of the Gauteng Provincial Government. This is consistent with the National Development Plan of the country.
The provincial department has a road network of 5 638 kilometres, with 4250km being paved roads. The network includes 676 bridges and 428 culverts. The total asset value of the network is calculated at R25.5 billion.
The Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport has since 2014 spent over R3 billion undertaking heavy and light rehabilitation of the road infrastructure along various corridors in the province. This is in line with the ANC government’s commitment to providing a world-class road infrastructure. In the current financial year, the department’s allocated budget is R6.8 billion with R1.9 billion specifically earmarked for transport infrastructure.
The provincial roads maintenance grant is being effectively used to keep our network in good shape. Twelve major road rehabilitation projects such as the N12; the N14 and the R82 from Eikenhof to Walkerville have been completed. Work on the remaining section of the N14 is underway. Twenty five service providers have been appointed for routine outsourced maintenance. As part of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Plan, nine roads were rehabilitated as alternative routes to e-tolls.
The benefits to motorists include improved road user mobility; increased roadway capacity; reduced travel times; easy access to business, residential and agricultural estates and improved road safety. The latest Pavement Network Report shows that 71 percent of our surfaced roads are in a very good, good or fair condition – showing an improvement on the previous report. Biennial bridge inspections are undertaken to ascertain their structural integrity and to carry out repairs as and when warranted.
Over the past 10 years the ANC government has invested strongly on public transport systems. To date the estimated costs on Bus Rapid Transit systems in the three metropolitan municipalities in our province is over R10 billion; the public-private partnership investment in the Gautrain is R30 billion and the current modernisation of Metrorail is estimated at over R10 billion. Annually, the Department subsidises bus services to the value of R2 billion.
In the next few months, plans to acquire 12 new trains (48 coaches) for the Gautrain system, as passenger demand has exceeded realistic expectations particularly during peak hours, will be finalised. This will help to alleviate congestion that Gautrain passengers experience in the morning and evening peaks. In addition to the acquisition of more trains, the project entails the development of new depot facilities and the upgrading of the existing Gautrain signalling system.
The new train project is expected to have a positive socio-economic impact in the province as the Gauteng provincial government will insist on at least 65 percent local content by the successful bidder. It is expected to sustain 10 000 jobs in Gauteng and total government revenue is to increase by an estimated R542 million in nominal terms between 2019 and 2023. Furthermore, an estimated R206 million is expected to be received by lower income households.
After seven years of operation and over 80 million passenger trips, the ANC Government in this province has demonstrated that the face of public transport can be radically changed. A modern and efficient public transport system such as Gautrain has had a positive impact on the provincial economy, alleviated traffic congestion and rejuvenated several inner cities in Johannesburg and Tshwane. It has created jobs and helped to re-establish the rail sector in our province.
These benefits illustrate the need for rail as being the backbone of public transport in our province. The wider benefits of Gautrain indicates that between 2006 and 2011, over 122 000 jobs were created by Gautrain. For every R1 spent on Gautrain, R1.72 has been added to the Gauteng economy. Spatially, Gauteng now works much more efficiently and several billion rands of private sector investment has been channelled into development around Gautrain stations.
The ANC believes that the extension of the Gautrain rail network and the modernisation of the PRASA Metrorail system must be supported if rail-based public transport is to grow to the required levels to prevent urban sprawl and unsustainable road congestion in the province. This is based on the:
- transformational impact on the Gauteng economy;
- the modernisation of public transport;
- greener transportation solutions for a heathier community;
- passenger access and mobility;
- improved spatial development;
- environmental impact;
- increase in local content;
- business development, and
- the creation of jobs and poverty alleviation.
It will also have significant socio-economic development benefits, including an estimated 211 000 jobs created in construction; R19 billion procurement spend on black owned entities; increased black ownership of companies in the rail sector; a strong focus on local content in the supply chain, and increased capacity in the rail sector through skills development.
It is for this reason the ANC supports the development of the Gibela rail construction plant in Nigel and we are looking forward to it being fully operational early next year.
The full impact of these ANC government investments in roads and public transport will become apparent with time. It will result in improved mobility, social inclusion, economic growth and the development of small and emerging contractors. It will create jobs and develop skills. It will improve road safety and protect the environment. Therefore, the ANC supports the motion.