Gauteng MEC for Roads and Transport Ismail Vadi
Members of the Mayoral Committee
Chairperson of the Board of SANRAL
Chief Executive Officer of SANRAL
Officials from the three spheres of government
Representatives of the public transport associations
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen
I am pleased to participate in this occasion to unveil yet another landmark development in government's programme to provide adequate transport infrastructure, as a requirement for socio-economic development.
Transport facilitates growth and development in the other sectors of the economy such as agriculture, mining and tourism, and enables South Africans to travel from one point to another.
In addition to stimulating socio-economic development, decent roads also contribute to government's effort to reduce fatalities that continue to claim lives and leave many people disabled. In South Africa, we lose more than one thousand people every month with severe social and economic consequences.
According to statistics, poor road infrastructure is one of the causes of road fatalities in the country. Building a secure road infrastructure network is therefore one of the priorities of government.
It is for this reason that the vision of the Department of Transport is to 'make transport the heartbeat of the economy'. This clarion call, as articulated in the vision of the department is not a slogan, but it is an imperative that should find expression in the programmes of the three spheres of government, and the state owned companies and agencies.
Since 1994, the democratic government has continued to make significant strides to provide accessible, secure and quality road infrastructure. The launch of this revamped interchanged today is one of many investments by Department of Transport and South African National Road Agency Ltd (SANRAL) to achieve this goal.
SANRAL undertook this project, building on the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) infrastructure to improve this interchange which had become notorious for road fatalities. The construction of new lanes will reduce congestions and therefore contribute to the safety of people and goods.
SANRAL has a responsibility to ensure that the over 19 000km national road network is always in good condition. About R191 million has been invested in this project.
More work is also being done to improve the maintenance of provincial and local roads to ensure that South Africans have access to adequate road infrastructure wherever they are. In the next financial year, the Department of Transport will continue to support provinces and municipalities to upscale the provision of adequate infrastructure and services, where necessary, tapping on SANRAL's expertise.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Government has a responsibility to create an enabling environment for job creation. While on its own the creation of new infrastructure stimulates the private sector to create jobs, government has a responsibility to undertake projects that also create new, direct jobs. In addition to improving the infrastructure, this construction created about 221 direct jobs, 185 of which were full time.
About 15 small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) were involved in the project to a tune of R37 million, further contributing to government's endeavour to empower small businesses. Small businesses play a significant role in the creation of jobs and sustainable livelihoods.
As part of this service, road users will also have access to emergency medical services as well as access to light and heavy vehicles towing services. This will complement the existing public emergency services.
I am encouraged to note that that during the construction process, SANRAL took into account the heritage of the area, including archaeological findings, dating back to the Stone Age period.
This again confirms that our responsibility as the providers of transport infrastructure and services to the nation does not exist in isolation. Our contribution forms part and parcel of the work of other government departments, state institutions and society as a whole. It is therefore our responsibility as the transport family to contribute to the preservation of the environment.
As we move forward, the department will continue to improve the quality of the road infrastructure and services in both rural and urban areas. In addition to road construction and maintenance, we will focus our attention towards the rollout of an integrated transport infrastructure to enable the different modes of transport, especially road and rail transport, to complement each other.
The department will also implement new interventions to improve public transport to facilitate the ease movement of passengers and goods. These interventions include upgrading the railway infrastructure which will enable trains to operate on schedule. PRASA will also increase investments to improve the safety of rail passengers while we await the delivery of new trains starting in 2015.
The department will also review the current public transport subsidies with a view to extend the benefits to other operators of public transport - in addition to the bus operators who have been receiving subsidies for many years.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In the space of just over 18 years, the democratic government has made significant strides to provide infrastructure and services, yet we remain conscious of the mammoth task that lies ahead. A lot still need to be done to redress the apartheid skewed distribution of infrastructure and services.
The Department of Transport is committed to work with the provincial and local spheres of government, state owned companies and agencies, the private sector, civil society and the general public to provide adequate infrastructure and services.
Working together we can do more!