What A Mess!

ROY JANKIELSOHN MPL

DA Leader in the Free State

BUDGET DEBATE: FREE STATE DEPARTMENT OF POLICE, ROADS AND TRANSPORT

What a mess!

That is the only way to describe the state of this department that was left by the former MEC Mangaung Mayor Manyoni, for our new MEC Honourale Komphela to try and fix.

We can only convey our commiserations to the relatively new MEC, Honourable Komphela, for winning this prize. We do, however, wish to convey our support to him as he attempts to wade through this quagmire of tender irregularities, rapidly deteriorating roads, poor financial management, and the lack of political support he will inevitably get when he uncovers to the real source of the problems in this department.

In this respect the irregular tenders in our department of roads to a very dubious Mr Dladla and his company RD Consulting Engineers is costing our province dearly. It has been estimated that R1,9 billion is involved in this. All work on the roads allocated to him have ceased. This in turn has caused huge damage to our time frames for improving our roads network and has done immeasurable damage to our provincial economy.

Our provincial roads network, that is crucial for economic growth and the creation of jobs, has been set back years due to this state of affairs. Without a sound roads network, our local economies can not function. Roads are crucial for the transportation of good and services to and from, and between, towns in the province.

Jobs can not be created in local communities without investment. Investment will not take place without effective service delivery and a sound infrastructure, of which roads infrastructure is crucial. This is a perfect example of how corruption makes poor people poorer.

Speaker, our provincial economy is haemorrhaging while individuals have been looting this department. We have been informed by insiders that other departments, like public works, are experiencing similar looting.

I hope that when the forensic investigations into the tenders are completed, that we will see people jailed for the injustice and pain they have caused the people of our province. Our police commissioner and other law enforcement agencies, who are here today, will hopefully demand the results of forensic investigations. This is not a victimless crime as some people like to refer to corruption.

Treasury has carried out investigations within the department, and the portfolio committee has been promised the treasury report. The committee is also waiting for feedback on the forensic investigations the MEC instituted internally.

Every person in the Free State who is unemployed as a result of the conditions of our local economies, every person who has been involved in accidents or suffered other damages due to potholes or other conditions on our roads, is a victim of these crimes. Someone needs to be held accountable for this.

Nationally, our country has experienced many scandals involving state funds such as oilgate, travelgate, and armsgate. Now the Free State province has its own roadgate scandal. I only hope that at some stage we will open this gate so that our people can once again travel freely and use the economic opportunities that a sound roads infrastructure delivers. All of these scandals have one thing in common, the involvement of ANC cadres and politicians.

Another area of concern, is that while former MEC Manyoni indicated in 2009 that the Free State would require at least R15 billion to repair our roads network. In this financial year road maintenance only gets R856 million and road construction a mere R109 million out of a very meagre budget of R1,76 billion for the entire department.

Speaker, I would like to briefly deal with two other issues.

We receive ongoing complaints from residents of Parys regarding their licensing offices. Since these offices burnt down last year, they have to travel to other towns for things as basic as obtaining licenses for vehicles. Between public works and police, roads and transport this issue seems to be falling between the cracks. The premier did not protest to get R15 million to effect maintenance on his official guest house, why must residents always have to protest to get what they pay for, namely decent services. Perhaps the people of Parys must protest, the only problem is that the offices are already burnt.

In closing, I would like the MEC to take steps to prevent provincial government vehicles from travelling at high speeds on our roads. These drivers obviously get their example from the reckless and rude VIP vehicles and their escorts. Yesterday, on my way to Qwawa for the sitting there, I suddenly heard a siren next to me. The vehicles came up so fast from the rear that I did not even hear or see them until they were next to me. When I hooted at the driver for trying to force me to move off the road, he showed his middle finger to me. The three vehicles could only have been escorting the premier. Perhaps the premier understands this sign language, I do not.

These vehicles are not reacting to emergencies and drivers do not have to make way for them. They are only selfish politicians and reckless SAPS members who are abusing privileges not afforded to normal citizens.

Politician status does not give individuals the right to disobey the law, which includes the speed limits and common courtesy to other road users.

Speaker, the DA will continue to support all attempts by Honourable MEC Komphela to fix this very important department together with treasury. We only wish that he was given the resources necessary to do so. We hope that he province will be able to access additional resources from national to re-establish out road network in the Free State.

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