Pretoria: Transport Minister Dipuo Peters has officially opened the Chota Motala Interchange on the N3 in KwaZulu-Natal, a move she described as a milestone in the country’s efforts to improve and develop sustainable transport infrastructure and services.
“A project of this magnitude, which speaks volumes for itself, is a true reflection of our efforts to enhance the social and economic development of our country through a sound and sustainable transportation system,” the minister said on Saturday.
The R442-million project is named after political veteran Dr Mahomed Moosa Motala, who passed away in 2005.
Minister Peters used the occasion to highlight some of government’s efforts to modernise infrastructure in the past 20 years.
“We have more tarred roads than the rest of sub-Saharan Africa combined, and we have the tenth largest roads network in the world. These assets are worth in excess of over R1 trillion, which is equal to our national budget for a year,” she said.
The South African national road network consists of 19 704 km of roads, which seamlessly connect major cities, towns and rural areas, supporting economic growth and social development, and contributing to job creation in the country.
Minister Peters said close to 1 500km of new roads or lanes had been built in the country in the past 20 years.
She said the country needed to spend R30 billion a year on maintaining roads, but could only spend that amount on both maintenance and new construction.
“Sanral therefore has a very distinct mandate to finance, improve, manage and maintain the national road network – the economic arteries and backbone of South Africa.”
Toll roads comprise only 15.8% of the total national road network, and are funded in the main from borrowings on capital markets.
With regard to its projects, Minister Peters said she expected the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) to make every effort to promote transformation by ensuring that small, medium and micro enterprises are exposed to work experiences that would otherwise not have been possible.
According to the minister, in the last financial reporting period, Sanral awarded 255 contracts worth R11.6 billion for new works, rehabilitation and improvement, periodic and special maintenance, routine road maintenance, community development and professional consulting engineering, among other projects.
“Furthermore, Sanral spent R2 billion on contracts with SMMEs … 18 161 people were trained in elements of road building, of which 7 252 were women,” Minister Peters said.
In terms of job creation, 110 401 job opportunities of varying durations were created.
The minister said government was spending significant resources on modernising transport infrastructure because the country’s economic growth depended on the ability to move people, goods and services.
“Without these investments, we will not be able to export much more than we currently do and will not meet our economic growth targets.
“This reality makes the role that Sanral plays in our economy critical, and we need to support it to ensure that it meets our expectations in this regard,” she said.