Decay of South Africa’s roads is becoming inevitable

FF Plus

Decay of South Africa’s roads is becoming inevitable
Decay of South Africa's roads is becoming inevitable

If the deterioration of the country’s roads is not turned around soon, large-scale decay will be inevitable and it will destroy any hopes for economic recovery and growth.

The Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, admitted to the parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport that the country’s road infrastructure will be completely decayed in ten years’ time if the current situation remains unchanged.

In response to specific questions from the FF Plus about the pressing problem of sink- and potholes, he undertook to ‘prioritise’ such repairs.

The bad news, however, is that the situation will most likely continue seeing as the Minister also admitted that there is no money available to perform backlogged road repairs.

He blames, among other things, the former Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni, for this because the National Treasury reduced provinces’ road maintenance allocations with 15% in the 2019/20 financial year.

That could not be further from the truth, though. Everyone knows that the decay of the country and its roads started soon after the ANC came into power nearly three decades ago.

As in all areas where the ANC governs, maintenance was put on the back burner and all warnings about decay were simply ignored.

Back in 2014, the deterioration of the country’s roads was so serious that the Department of Transport gave evidence before Parliament acknowledging that it is a crisis and that it will cost R149 billion to eradicate the backlog in maintenance. (Netwerk24: Paaie in SA uiters swak, hoor hoës: 10 Julie 2014).

According to the Department itself, 173 000kms of the country’s municipal roads were already classified as being in a “poor” or “very poor” condition at the time. Such a classification indicates that the road infrastructure has decayed, and significant rehabilitation is needed.

The situation has since worsened to such an extent that by 2021, more than half of the country’s gravel roads and a third of its secondary tar roads could be classified as “poor” or “very poor”, according to the company Frost & Sullivan. This includes a quarter of all metropolitan roads as well.

According to one of the company’s research reports, the Eastern Cape, Free State, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West are ‘losing the battle’ of eradicating just the existing backlog in road maintenance.

Research conducted by the University of Cape Town found that by 2019, it would already have cost R417 billion just to catch up on all the outstanding maintenance work.

This decay must be seen against the backdrop of a railway transport system that has basically collapsed and a struggling economy.

As the economy keeps declining, less money is available for upkeep and the chances of economic recovery become even slimmer. The one needs the other to recover and survive.

Even if the R417 billion was somehow acquired, the FF Plus does not know how much of it will be used to repair roads and how much will simply disappear.

This is the terrible state in which the country finds itself under a government that has, since 1994, only looked out for itself and its cadres while everything else was left to go to ruin.

The country and its people cannot afford to keep the ANC in power any longer.

Read the original article in Afrikaans by Piet Mey on FF Plus

SOURCEFF Plus