Roads & Public Works Department’s Targets and Budget Underwhelming

Dr. Allen Grootboom, MPL DA Northern Cape: Spokesperson for Roads and Public Works The Democratic Alliance (DA) is disappointed at how underwhelming the Northern Cape Department of Roads & Public Works (DRPW) Budget Vote and Annual Performance Plan (APP) for the 2013/14 financial year is. This comes after the DRPW appeared before MPL’s to present its Budget Vote 5 to the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature today during a Portfolio Committee. The total budget for the 2013/14 year amounts to R1 146 915 000 (or R1 146 billion). When broken down between the Provincial Department’s four Programmes, we see that the two core functions of the Department, namely Programme 2 on Public Works Infrastructure receives R112 158 million, and Programme 3 on Transport Infrastructure receives the lions-share with R852 784 million. The balance of the spending is on Administration cost (R109 210-million), and Community Based Programmes (R72 763-million). The DA is concerned that this funding falls far short the sort of investment needed to begin fixing the poor roads and other infrastructure. The Northern Cape has a total of 63 092 km of road, of which is 87% is unpaved and a mere 13% is paved. With this in mind, our greatest concern is the poor targets the DRPW has set itself in the maintenance and fixing of this roads and infrastructure network. The Department in its APP has set itself the target to rehabilitate a mere 37 km’s of surfaced roads, and a mere 162 km’s of gravel roads are to be re-graveled during the financial year; this paltry at best. The DA is alarmed that the current proportion of roads classified as fair/poor/very poor is 65% of the total road network, and the backlog is growing. Surely the people of this province deserve better quality roads, as this is a question of not only comfort, but also road safety. The DRPW was also ominously evasive in detailing what measures they have put in place to address some of the concerns raised by the Auditor-General in the previous year’s annual report. This is worrying given the scandals this Department is facing, which has seen many senior officials and MECS face fraud and corruption charges. What is this Department doing to protect state funds, and ensuring that residents of the province are getting their moneys worth? The DA is of the express view that MEC, Dawid Rooi, and the DRPW are effectively underperforming. Given its insufficient budget, we question why the Department is not doing more to source other avenues of funding, such as engaging the private sector in Public-Private Partnerships. This is a poor show indeed.

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