Free State Roads hinder growth in Agriculture

Roy Jankielsohn MPL

DA Caucus Leader in the Free State Legislature

Note: the following member’s statement was delivered today (Tuesday 19 Match 2013) during a debate in the Free State Legislature in Viljoenskroon (Moqhaka).

Deputy-Speaker, the Western Free State is the most important grain producing region in the country. In fact it is the highest producer of grain per capita in Southern Africa. This region is also the host to the largest annual agricultural show on the continent, namely NAMPO. This important region of our province supplies employment to many people in the Free State and is crucial not only to the provincial economy, but also food security in South Africa. The regional economy is, however, under threat due to the poor state of the roads. Economic activity, especially in agriculture, depends on a sound roads infrastructure. The current poor state of the roads network is not only hampering further economic development in the Western Free State, but also prevents further investment. A sound road network is crucial for the transportation of goods and services in and out of the region. Damage to vehicles caused by poor roads is a serious threat to further investment and to the current economy. Our current roads network is crucial for the development of an enabling environment that is crucial for economic growth. Investment in our roads network will allow the private sector, especially the agricultural sector, to grow the economy and create more jobs. Currently, while agriculture contributes 3,9% towards the provincial economy, it provides 19,2% of jobs. Any support that we give the agricultural sector will produce an above average number of jobs when compared to other economic sectors in the province. While we are in Viljoenskroon, I would like to challenge the members of this legislature to travel between Viljoenskroon and Bothaville, as well as between Lacemain and Bothaville today. The Premier may even take his Hlasela News and The Weekly Newspaper with him to experience firsthand what our people of this region experience every day. I would like to warn my colleagues in the governing party that their Jaguars and Mercedes Benzes will require an extra spare wheel or two for this short trip.

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