MEC Komphela’s claim that R74-Oliviershoek Pass transferred to SANRAL misleading

Leona Kleynhans, MPL

Free State Provincial Legislature

The claim made by Roads MEC Butana Komphela during his budget vote debate reply, on the 09 July 2014, that the responsibility of maintenance and management of the R74-Oliviershoek Pass has been transferred from the provincial department to the national roads agency SANRAL is untrue.

This was revealed in reply to a written question submitted to the national minister of transport, Me Dipuo Peters, by our colleague and permanent delegate to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) for the Free State, George Michalakis.

Minister Peters states that no application from the provincial administration for the transfer of the R74 to SANRAL has been made. She also said that the South African National Roads Agency Limited and National Roads Act (No 7 of 1998) clearly sets out the procedure to be followed for the transfer of a road to the national roads network and that a road can only be incorporated into the national network if it forms part of a functional road network.

Evidently MEC Komphela and the provincial department failed to make an application for the transfer of the R74-Oliviershoek Pass to SANRAL and chances of the agency assuming responsibility of this road is slim since currently it does not form part of a functional road network.

The R74-Oliviershoek Pass is one of the roads left incomplete after the disastrous and severely compromised multi-million rand “23 Roads Project” adopted by the provincial government. This road is completely untrafficable, more than five kilometres of the road surface has been dug up and abandoned.

I will submit written questions to MEC Komphela this week asking:

  1. How he came to the conclusion that the R74-Oliviershoek Pass has been transferred to SANRAL;
  2. What the department, in response to the reply by the national minister, will do to rehabilitate and resurface the 20km stretch of road, at what cost and by when the construction will be completed?

The non-trafficability of the R74-Oliviershoek Pass led to the closure of many tourist destinations and hotels along the extremely popular route from Gauteng to the Drakensberg World Heritage Site. This led to massive job losses and negatively impacted on local rural economies. This is how a 20km stretch of bad road can negatively impact on investment, the economy, employment, and tourism.

It is time for MEC Komphela to come clean on the controversy surrounding the R74-Oliviershoek Pass.