A regional roads agency within SADC – based on the SANRAL model – was envisaged by Transport Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande, in Parliament.
The Minister made the remarks at the conclusion of his department’s briefing to the Portfolio Committee on Transport. This was his first meeting with the committee since his appointment to the Cabinet in February. He was accompanied by Deputy Minister, Sindiswe Chikunga,
According to media reports he said a regional agency for the Southern African Development Community – SADC – could help with regional economic integration and the development of infrastructure.
He told the committee that the department is considering the role it can play and the initiatives it can implement to achieve the objective.
In her response to the comments the chairperson of the committee, Ms Dikeledi Magadzi, reportedly said a Southern African SANRAL “is a step in the right direction.” The Development Bank of Southern Africa – DBSA – and the African Bank could get on board for this to work in line with the ideals of the African Union.
Dr Nzimande told the Committee that he is concerned about the funding of road infrastructure for the next 15 to 20 years.
“One of the bigger issues I have been thinking about – which is an ongoing issue – arises from GFIP. How do we move forward in the next 15 to 20 years? How do we raise finance for road infrastructure,” he asked.
“We will have to come up with a strategy of funding road construction and maintenance programmes on a sustainable basis.”
Referring to the “user pay principle” as a source for road funding he said that it would be inappropriate to scrap it entirely. “Those who can afford to pay, must pay,” he is quoted as saying, adding that there were complexities that should be considered for the way forward.
Priority should be placed on the maintenance of roads, which are often so run-down that they have to be rebuilt from scratch. “The lack of maintenance costs us dearly.”
Road maintenance also has the potential to create jobs and support local economic development, especially in rural areas. Service delivery should be more integrated to involve local communities, the Minister said.