DA welcomes funds proposal for road maintenance

The Democratic Alliance on Tuesday welcomed Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele’s announcement that the department would look at ring-fencing funds to tackle the road infrastructure backlog.  This was a measure the DA had repeatedly called for in the past — in the form of a dedicated road maintenance fund with funding sourced from the fiscus and bolstered by money-market loans, the fuel levy, concessions and public-private partnerships, DA spokesman Stuart Farrow said. 

“Minister Ndebele was quoted in this morning’s Business Report as saying that allocations from the fiscus could be ‘ring fenced’ for the dedicated purpose of road maintenance.  “This development is a very good step in the right direction.  The deterioration of South Africa’s road network was precipitated by the replacement by the ANC government of a dedicated fuel levy with an annual grant from central government,” Farrow said. 

As it stood, funds were allocated from the national government to provinces on equitable share to each province, to be divided up and spent as that province saw fit.  The same scenario applied to cities and large metros, which collected their money from rates.  No dedicated allocation meant money was spent elsewhere instead of on roads. 

This system diverted funds away from road maintenance and created the current neglect and deterioration.  The introduction of a dedicated road maintenance fund could therefore help to ensure that provincial and local governments tackled the country’s serious road infrastructure problems. 

“We believe that, in addition to the establishment of a dedicated road maintenance fund, it is essential that a national audit of South Africa’s road network is conducted to determine the specific distance of roads that are in a poor or very poor condition.”  Once the audit was completed, funds from the dedicated road maintenance fund should be allocated on a proportional and conditional basis. 

“We welcome the fact that the ANC government appears to at last be taking the correct action to address this serious infrastructure backlog. 

“It is also notable that, just as it is in job creation, in education and in energy, it is DA policies that are increasingly being turned to in order to salvage the South African state from misguided ANC policies,” Farrow said.

Source:  sapa online, 20100302

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