NCOP members laud quality of SANRAL’s roads infrastructure and its impact on communities

NCOP members laud quality of SANRAL’s roads infrastructure and its impact on communities

16 September 2023 – Members of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) have undertaken oversight visits to various South African National Roads Agency SOC Limited (SANRAL) projects throughout the country and have expressed their satisfaction at the progress on the projects and the involvement of community groups.

The NCOP members undertook a Provincial Week programme to assess the state of government infrastructure throughout the provinces. Roads, as one of the key economic infrastructures of the country, featured dominantly on the programme, with various road infrastructure projects visited by the NCOP.

In the Eastern Cape, the road network under the South African National Roads Agency SOC Limited (SANRAL) that was of interest to the NCOP included the flagship N2 Wild Coast Road, the R61 section between Bambisana and Lusikisiki, the R336 from Kirkwood to Addo and the N2 between the Gamtoos River and the Van Stadens River.

Speaking on the sidelines of the NCOP oversight visit at the Msikaba Bridge, SANRAL CEO, Reginald Demana, welcomed the Provincial Week programme and oversight visits to SANRAL road infrastructure projects.

“I attended the Msikaba Bridge oversight visit as this is our flagship project in the Southern Region and this was an opportunity to showcase the work that is going into construction of this iconic bridge,” said Demana regarding the R1.72-billion Msikaba Bridge that is currently under construction. The 580m span, 195m high, cable-stay bridge is anticipated to be completed at the end of February 2025.

“Notably, this NCOP visit comes a day after this bridge was featured on an international National Geographic engineering series called Building Impossible with Daniel Ashville, demonstrating the world class engineering excellence that is entailed in this infrastructure,” said Demana. To date, over R80-million in wages has been paid to targeted labour and over 2 750 full-time equivalent jobs have been created on the Msikaba Bridge contract.

Leading the NCOP delegation to the SANRAL projects in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality and the Sarah Baartman District Municipality (R336 and N2 Gamtoos), Honourable Zolani Mkiva said: “This oversight visit is geared at making development more transparent and more visible. The NCOP is empowered by law to intervene where there are service delivery blockages.”

“We are satisfied with the work SANRAL is doing in this area. We appreciate the reports we have received in terms of participation of designated groups in these projects, especially women. We understand that there are some gaps that need closing, especially participation by military veterans and people with disabilities, and we want to see these being addressed in line with government’s transformation agenda,” said Mkiva.

The training programme currently underway to capacitate around 100 beneficiaries on the N2 Gamtoos River to Van Stadens River project was received well as it would ensure skills development within the surrounding communities.

The NCOP was excited with news of fossil matter that has been discovered on the R336 project between Kirkwood and Addo, while the Executive Mayor of Sarah Baartman District, Councillor Deon de Vos said that quality roads were essential for the transportation of quality citrus products that are produced in the area.

NCOP leader of the delegation to the Msikaba Bridge, Nokuzola Ndongeni said: “We are satisfied with what we are seeing, hearing and what we have been briefed on, the technical side of the project. We are pleased that women and youth are well represented and that there’s skills transfer taking place so that in years to come there can be a show of people who acquired skills here.”

Nkosi Gcinizizwe Mkwedini, of a nearby Qaukeni village, remarked that the Msikaba Bridge project is the symbol of “what we can do working together. The fact that the work that is taking place here is becoming more visible to the world at large symbolises that the people of this community are behind it.”

At the NCOP oversight visit to SANRAL’s Eastern Region (Free State), the MEC for Community Safety, Roads and Transport, Maqueen Letsoha-Mathae, indicated that she is in discussion with SANRAL to take over the repairs and maintenance of the R26, R74 and R34. The MEC also noted that her department now makes use of SANRAL engineers to assess the quality of road upgrades and repairs before they make any payments to their contractors.

In SANRAL’s Northern Region, the members of the NCOP visited the upgrade project along the R573 national road (Moloto Road) Section 2 between Kwaggafontein and Vlaglaagte within the Thembisile Hani local municipality. Moloto Road is a special project, which forms part of several Strategic Infrastructure Projects (SIPs) identified and undertaken by the South African government to revive the country’s economy. Beyond stimulating the economy, upgrading Moloto Road will promote safety and improved mobility for all road users.

Other projects that also featured during the NCOP visits include the upgrading of the N2 national road between Ermelo in Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal, the upgrading of the R40 national road between Hazyview and Bushbuckridge, and the maintenance project along the N17 national road Section 5 in Chrissiesmeer within the Msukaligwa and Chief Albert Luthuli local municipalities.

Progress Hlahla, SANRAL’s Northern Regional Manager, welcomed the visit from members of the NCOP on “Building Viable Provincial and Municipal Infrastructure for Effective Delivery of Services to Communities”.

“This initiative goes a long way in sharing SANRAL’s knowledge and expertise of infrastructure development in the country, but it also symbolises the ongoing strategic partnership between the national roads agency and the government at national, provincial and local level, and ensures that the infrastructure projects are delivered on time and within budget,” said Hlahla.

Some common challenges identified across the projects included high contestation by local emerging contractors, demands for ringfencing of economic opportunities for locals and the sometimes exploitative relationship between the main contractors and subcontractors.

“SANRAL appreciates the role its road infrastructure development service delivery plays in the socio-economic upliftment of communities where we work. The oversight visits by NCOP delegations to our projects across the country was an opportune time to demonstrate the impact of our work through the creation of jobs, skills development and participation of previously marginalised groups in economic opportunities presented by our projects,” added Demana.