Two catalysts for growth

Sanral head of communications Vusi Mona speaks during the Sanral career exhibition at Orlando community hall in Soweto. PHOTOS BY: SYDNEY SESHIBEDI
Vusi Mona

Three provinces, two highways, one aim. The N2 along the Wild Coast and the R573 Moloto Road north of Pretoria are both catalysts for sustainable local, regional and national economic development.

Both highways will confirm that transport is one of the most important enablers of growth and prosperity in South Africa. Both will bring meaningful and measurable change.

Through empowerment, training and job creation, SANRAL improves the lives of ordinary people and communities living near these roads. But the roads are also arteries of economic life, changing the local and regional economies, as well as making a national impact.

In the Eastern Cape, the N2 Wild Coast Road will directly affect the high unemployment figures in the province. It is estimated that about 5% of the almost one million provincial unemployed could gain jobs directly through the project and its spin-offs, making it one of the single most important job-creation initiatives in the province.

SANRAL’s direct job creation forecast is for 8 000 full-time-equivalent jobs over the construction period of almost five years. These jobs will not be just for unskilled labour, but will include skilled and semi-skilled jobs as well. In addition, between 32 000 and 40 000 indirect jobs will be created by sub-contractors and suppliers during the same period.

SANRAL will implement and monitor strong enterprise and community development programmes, which will enable the SMMEs to continue their businesses beyond the actual construction period, including involvement in longer term road maintenance contracts.

The new route will promote local and regional economic growth in other areas – such as manufacturing, transport and logistics, hospitality, tourism and agri-processing.

Apart from private sector involvement, provincial and local government departments are ensuring that there is proper coordination of development initiatives. These are coordinated by the premier’s office and linked to agriculture and agri-processing in the Wild Coast Special Economic Zone, the ocean economy and other rural and local development initiatives.

Clearly this is not only about local job creation. It is a catalyst for sustainable local, regional and national economic development.

The upgrading on the Moloto Road will have further-reaching consequences than the usual SANRAL interventions – assisting local communities, road safety programmes, skills training, job creation, contracting SMMEs. It will help to unlock the economic potential of the mineral belt along the Waterberg.

The Moloto Road (the R573) carries 150 000 commuters daily and is a vital route for the local economy and for people travelling to and from work. When upgraded, this dangerous road will be safer for motorists, bus and taxi passengers as well as pedestrians. It will stimulate economic activity along the route, improve access to markets for small farmers and make it easier for tourists to get to the many popular game reserves.

The upgrade is part of the Moloto Road Development Corridor, which includes much-needed investment in passenger rail to make available safer, faster and more accessible connections between the three provinces through which the R573 runs: Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo.

Because of the vastness of this developmental thrust (estimated at R34bn) the positive impact will be felt wider than just the immediate Moloto Road communities. The regional and national economies are bound to feel the direct impact of this enormous investment.

Along the Moloto Road itself, SANRAL will do what it always does – create jobs. The breakdown of estimated job opportunities over a five-year period across the three provinces is significant:

  • Gauteng            6 250
  • Mpumalanga     3 250
  • Limpopo            3 000

That’s a total of 12 500 jobs just locally.

At a time when the economy has slowed down – making job creation and boosting SMMEs more difficult – the major SANRAL construction projects along the Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape and the Moloto Road north of Pretoria will be making an impact way beyond the local and even regional economies.

They are nationally important, true enablers of economic growth.

Vusi Mona is SANRAL’s General Manager of Communications