Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga to highlight South Africa’s road infrastructure successes at 27th World Road Congress


Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga to highlight South Africa’s road

infrastructure successes at 27th World Road Congress

Prague, 1 October 2023 – Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga will lead a high-powered South African delegation to the 27th World Road Congress in the Czech Republic in October. South African road and transport professionals will showcase the significant progress being made in rebuilding the country’s economy through road infrastructure development projects.

Minister Chikunga will be joined by executives from the South African National Roads Agency SOC Limited (SANRAL), including Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mr Reginald Demana and board members, who will seek to forge and strengthen collaborative relationships with members of the global transport community.

The conference, being held at the Prague Convention Centre from 2-6 October, is hosted by the Permanent International Association of Road Congresses (PIARC), the global umbrella body formed in 1909 to promote international co-operation on issues related to roads and road transport.

SANRAL became a PIARC member in 1995 and, in 2021, former SANRAL CEO Nazir Alli was elected the world association’s first African president.

At the conference, Minister Chikunga will set out aspects of the country’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan – with particular emphasis on how infrastructure investment, delivery and maintenance is playing a leading role in reviving and growing the economy.

Establishing an expansive and effective road network is critical to the South African government’s economic growth strategy and the minister will relay to delegates how such projects are already having an impact on the economy as well as on communities in both urban and rural areas.

Minister Chikunga will also launch the South African Roads Indaba, scheduled to take place in Cape Town in October 2024.

South Africa’s co-operation with other African countries will also be highlighted at the World Road Congress. In July this year, President Cyril Ramaphosa and his Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) counterpart, President Felix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo, signed a Memorandum of Understanding on transport-related matters and Minister Chikunga later hosted a DRC delegation in Durban to solidify transport co-operation efforts between the two countries. SANRAL will play a major role in the upgrade of the DRC-Beit Bridge corridor.

As the new CEO, Mr Demana has said he intends to make SANRAL the premier roads agency on the African continent. “To be involved in the upgrade of the DRC-Beit Bridge corridor is a testament and huge expression of confidence in SANRAL’s ability to undertake these massive road and bridge projects,” he said. “The Mount Edgecombe Interchange is an example of the world-class engineering that exist on our continent, which we as SANRAL can share with the rest of our neighbours in Africa,” Demana added.

On the first day of the World Road Congress, Minister Chikunga will participate in a special ministerial panel session on road safety, where she will showcase how safety and sustainable design solutions are prioritised in all SANRAL projects.

Since being appointed to her position in March, the minister has made it clear that arresting the carnage on South Africa’s roads is high on her agenda and, to this end, she will use her platform at the international gathering to explain SANRAL’s Safe Systems approach to road safety. This involves the provision of safe road infrastructure that reduces the risk of serious injury or death when a crash occurs, as well as the implementation of road safety educational and awareness programmes that will lead to changed attitudes and behaviour among all road users.

South Africa has been allocated its own pavilion at the venue, which will enable international delegates to gain greater understanding of the road and bridge projects currently underway in the country.

Senior SANRAL officials will be participating in the Congress and two papers highlighting South Africa’s roads infrastructure renewal programme will also be presented by SANRAL representatives during the week.

The first paper, by SANRAL Northern Region specialist transport engineer Alan Robinson, provides insights on competency training programmes that equip diversified engineering staff with first-principle skills. This programme is designed to offset the loss of experience that occurs when workforce diversification strategies are implemented. It focuses on transport engineering fundamentals and is being developed for both younger and more senior practitioners who are not necessarily transport specialists. Ultimately, the programme is intended to expand current courses to 10 areas of transport planning, from strategic planning and forecasting to autonomous integrated systems and green transport.

The second paper, presented by Northern Region engineer Sisanda Dyubhele, looks at the issue of aggrieved local stakeholders disrupting road construction sites and compromising potential infrastructure investment within the various spheres of government. This paper recommends that road authorities should not only act with more compassion towards workers, but also establish a dedicated task team with board-delegated authority to make policy changes and state clear objectives in obtaining a status of trusteeship with its stakeholders.

The delegation will also introduce international stakeholders to the SANRAL Horizon 2030 Strategy, a proactive response to deliver the national roads agency’s vision for a national transport system to ensure a better South Africa for all.