Budget vote speech: Public Works, Roads and Transport

Jane Sithole MPL

DA Provincial Spokesperson on Public Works, Roads and Transport

Note: The following speech was delivered in the Mpumalanga Legislature today by the DA’s Provincial Spokesperson on Public Works, Roads and Transport, Jane Sithole MPL, during the budget vote debate on Public Works, Roads and Transport

‘Department of Public Works, Roads and Transport is failing this Province’

Honourable Speaker, Economic development, job creation and improved living standards will remain unattainable for the majority of Mpumalanga’s people as long as the Department of Public Works, Roads and Transport continues to under-perform.

Hon. Speaker, year upon year, this department continues to fail to deliver on its mandate and this should be of great concern to this house. In the 2011/2012 and 2012/2013 financial years, the department only managed to achieve 50% and 51% of their targets respectively. With that trend, we can expect to see the same performance come time for Annual Reports to be released again.

The performance of this department should especially concern the MECs of Health, Education, Social Development and Community Safety as this dismally performing department has the mandate of acting as implementing agent of infrastructure projects. I believe this administration really needs to take a look at the role of Public Works within infrastructure projects in other departments and take the function away from the department.

Taking this function away from Public Works will lessen the load on Public Works, and then perhaps the department can start fixing our roads. I really believe we need to engage on this matters honourable members.

Hon. Speaker, after going through the department’s APP, the DA’s concern about this department remains fully intact. When looking towards Scholar Transport, The ANC claims it is a party for the poor, a party that cares for the people of our province, and a party that has a good story to tell.

Hon. Speaker as we speak right now our school children throughout the province are stranded somewhere on the side of the road and are unable to get to school.  The department of public works, roads and transport is failing in its mandate to ensure our children have access to a safe and reliable transport to and from school. With just few months away from the final exams, the department of public works, roads and transport is ruining the lives of thousands of children in this province.

Our constitution states clearly that education is a right, not a privilege.  The department of public works, roads and transport is denying our children this fundamental right and that is very sad.

This is not only a slap in the face of the poor people of this province, but also contradicts everything the ANC claims to be.

Our concern doesn’t end there. The department’s APP states that they had 137 funded vacancies as of April 1st 2014 and commits to having them filled within 6 months of advertisement, yet in the same breath states that there is sufficient human capital and political leadership to fulfil its mandate. Honourable members, this department is clearly in denial about the problems that continuously plague it.

The one positive that is seemingly emanating from the department is the return of the Moloto Rail Corridor to the discussion table. The updating of the feasibility study by the appointed consortium is a step in the right direction, but the DA asks that this updated feasibility study be made public, so that all affected citizens are kept in the loop. The involvement of SANRAL on the Moloto road on the other hand raises some eyebrows as that road is a Provincial Road and not a National one, and I can stand here and categorically state the people of Mpumalanga do not want e-tolls in the province, and I’m sure all honourable members will agree with me on this one.

Looking at the finances of the department, they paint a bleak picture. This department has been allocated a budget of R4.194 billion which amounts to 11.5% of the provinces total appropriation. This allocation represents 6.1% year on year growth from the previous financial year. With such an enormous budget, one would think that the department would budget their money in a more efficient manner so as to achieve all planned targets in the APP, seeing as a large number of infrastructure project earmarked to begin in previous financial years have been shuffled to begin in this financial year. But no, the department chooses to allocate R1.8 million towards catering expenses for this financial year. Now, we are not saying people must not eat, but this is a problem when one considers that:

  • Old Public Works buildings are not being maintained and used to create opportunities for citizens,
  • Our average investment in new infrastructure is at 2.1%,
  • A large number of educational and health facilities are in a shocking condition to say the least,
  • A number of surfaced roads are not accessible due to lack of maintenance, the condition of roads in our Province leaves much to be desired
  • There is no mechanism to monitor the number of children using Scholar transport and,
  • The department has decreased the number of kilometres of gravel roads upgrades to surface roads form 43 in 2013/2014 to 20 in 2014/2015.

Honourable Speaker and Honourable Members, we have a serious problem on our hands. There is absolutely no chance that the province will achieve the ambitious growth and job creation targets set out by the Premier in his SOPA address if this department continues on this non-performing path. We need to get our kids to school and we need proper roads on which these kids can travel to school on.

I thank you.