Tuesday, 13 June 2023 – The improvement of Mpumalanga’s road network is set to be intensified with Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga announcing various maintenance and upgrade programmes to be implemented throughout the province.

During her ministerial oversight visit to Mpumalanga, Chikunga highlighted the importance of the continued improvement of municipal and provincial roads to help bolster economic development.
“We’ve brought together all spheres of government to address the state of municipal and provincial roads in Mpumalanga,” she said.

According to the mayors of many of the province’s municipalities, roads managed by the South African National Roads Agency SOC Limited (SANRAL) were in a far better condition. As such, Chikunga announced that the province had been encouraged to identify strategic roads that could be handed over to be managed by SANRAL.

“We’ve requested the province to identify strategic roads as well as gravel roads to be handed over to SANRAL,” she said. “These will include roads that lead to heritage and tourism sites, along with roads that connect the province to neighbouring countries.”

Of Mpumalanga’s 39 000km road network, about 2 400km is currently being managed by SANRAL. Chikunga stated that while the process of identifying these strategic roads was already underway, it needed to be intensified to help the National Department of Transport plan.

In August last year, Operation Vala Zonke was launched in Mpumalanga. While Minister Chikunga lauded its success in the province, she also stated that there was still a need to intensify its implementation.

Operation Vala Zonke resulted in the patching of 209 996 square metres of potholes and resealing of a further 516 730 square metres during the previous financial year. This year the Provincial Department of Public Works, Roads and Transport plans to patch 142 000 square metres of potholes and reseal another 1 150 000 square metres.

“Where we’re able to reseal or rehabilitate the road, we will do so, but where we’re hindered due to budget constraints, we will intensify the patching of potholes so that roads are usable,” confirmed the Minister.

Mpumalanga’s strategic location has seen it emerge as an important route for the passage of heavy-duty freight vehicles which has had a severe impact on the condition of the province’s roads.

In addressing this, Chikunga encouraged the province to identify roads for the Adopt-A-Road Campaign in terms of which the Department would lobby the private sector to assume responsibility for the maintenance of those haulage routes.
“We will engage mining companies, road freight companies and other industries to adopt certain roads, those roads will remain public roads but will be maintained by private companies as they are contributors to the rapid degradation of those roads,” she said.

In a continued effort to ensure the improvement of Mpumalanga’s roads, the province will receive R1.4 billion from the National Treasury in the form of the Provincial Road Maintenance Grant. Seventy-five percent of this grant is to be used for the maintenance of roads while the remaining 25% is to be allocated towards construction and upgrades.

Public Works, Roads and Transport MEC, Mandla Ndlovu, welcomed the Minister’s intervention, adding that the province had allocated R405 million towards the rehabilitation and upgrading of the strategic road network in the province during the current financial year.
“We’ll continue working with the national department as well as other stakeholders to ensure that our roads are maintained at an acceptable standard, we also urge all road users to support us by respecting all the rules and regulations of the road,” said Ndlovu.