Mpumalanga invests in road infrastructure network

Mpumalanga Premier Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane has committed to fast-tracking the construction, maintenance and rehabilitation of the province’s road infrastructure network.

“In essence, we intend to pay more attention on road infrastructure network that enhance opportunities for our people in the villages, townships and rural areas, unlock industrialisation, agro-processing, agricultural value chains as well as enhancing the tourism potential in the province, including the promotion of integrated and sustainable human settlements for our communities,” the Premier said on Friday.

Delivering her State of the Province Address in the Mpumalanga Legislature, she said projects to upgrade the road infrastructure includes upgrading gravel roads to surfaced roads, as well as blading and grading them to make them more accessible and user friendly.

“Our surfaced roads will be resealed to deal with the challenge of potholes. More gravel roads will be upgraded to surfaced roads. Working with local government, we will fast track the paving of community roads in our municipalities; and in collaboration with our social partners and MTPA [Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency] we will construct, perform routine and major maintenance of key tourism routes and corridors throughout the province,” the Premier said.

In line with the Project Implementation Approach, together with social partners, the province has identified the projects that will contribute meaningfully towards inclusive growth and job creation.

“One refers to the Rehabilitation of the Coal Haulage Network around Gert Sibande and Nkangala District, which covers a total of 14% of the provincial roads that transport coal, mainly, to Eskom power stations. Therefore, it is extremely important to safeguard sustainable energy provision through rehabilitation and maintenance of the coal haulage road network,” she said.

As part of the District Development Model (DDM) approach, Mpumalanga has benefited from the upgrading of the Moloto Road (R573).

This is a major route linking the north-western part of Mpumalanga to the province of Gauteng and north-eastern Mpumalanga to Limpopo.

“It has the potential to unlock and enhance agriculture and tourism in the region including mining linkages between Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Maputo port in Mozambique and Richards Bay port in KwaZulu-Natal.”

She welcomed the decision by the South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL) to invest R9 billion in the road infrastructure in the province with the upgrading of the N2 between Ermelo in Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal as well as the R40 between Hazyview and Bushbuckridge.

“Both these projects will create employment opportunities and will benefit enterprises owned by young people, women and people with disabilities. Our road infrastructure is ageing much faster than we had anticipated. Part of this is caused by truck overloads, increased volumes of transport and above all the effects of climate change,” the Premier said.

In an effort to address the challenge, the province has deployed roads maintenance teams and routine road maintenance contractors.

“In order for us to address the poor work done by some contractors, we have resolved to strengthen our internal capacity as part of developing a capable State. To this effect, we have invested in mechanised pothole patching vehicles in an endeavour to improve the conditions of our roads, reduce costs, save time and improve quality.

“This initiative will focus on maintenance of strategic road infrastructure network systems with tourism routes receiving the highest priority,” she said.

This initiative will create more than 45 046 Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) jobs and provide local small, micro and medium enterprises (SMMEs) an opportunity to participate in the mainstream economy during the next financial year.

Skills development

The Premier affirmed that commitments that were made by the provincial government to people living in rural and farm areas were fulfilled.

The province has successfully completed the compulsory training programme and capacity building measure that serve as entry level training for aspirant farmers.

“To date 4 550 farmers have received skills development and 500 farmers have received Agriculture Sector Education Training Authority (AgriSETA) accredited skills development programmes. These programmes target mainly the young farmers and women.

“We are in our final year of the implementation of the Mpumalanga Rural Skills and Learnership Programme where 940 youth are receiving production, agro-processing as well as the farm equipment repairs and maintenance learnership qualification,” the Premier said.

The programme has managed to recruit 226 aspirant young potential farmers who are currently undergoing both technical and practical training in 23 training centres.

To date, 151 youth have completed the training courses and have been awarded certificates.

“We are now facilitating a process of placing these young aspirant famers on their own farms to become farmers in their own rights. Farms are acquired from the stakeholders such as the State, local municipalities, traditional leadership and the private sector,” she said.

The province has also collaborated with the Ministry of Water and Sanitation to accelerate the implementation of the Loskop Bulk Water Project.

“This project will entail the construction of abstraction works at Loskop Dam, a 20Megaliters/ day treatment module, a 40 km bulk pipeline, four booster pump stations and a storage reservoir. We have completed the feasibility study along with the implementation readiness study and the environmental authorisation.

“The total cost of the project is R1 049 000 962. This will directly benefit over 13 000 households in both Thembisile Hani and Dr JS Moroka municipalities,” the Premier said.

Source: South African Government News Agency