Transport Minister Blade Nzimande used his Budget Vote speech on Friday to announce several bold projects that his department will undertake.
The projects, which will be implemented within the next 12 months, are in line with the National Transport Master Plan (NATMAP) 2050, which aims to transform the transport system in order to support economic growth and development in South Africa.
“We shall carry out these projects within the context of a policy aimed at building a strong and growing economy, which will benefit all our people,” Minister Nzimande said.
One of the projects that will receive priority is the R573 Moloto Road, which will be upgraded at a cost of R1.1 billion. Known as the infamous “road of death”, Moloto traverses three provinces, namely Gauteng, Mpumalanga, and Limpopo.
The modernisation of this road forms part of the Moloto Road Development Corridor, which will include much-needed investment in passenger rail to offer commuters a safer, faster and more accessible connection between Mpumalanga and Gauteng.
The department will this financial year rehabilitate the road infrastructure damaged by disasters at a cost of R647.9 million over the medium term, through an additional allocation to supplement the reprioritisation in the provincial roads maintenance grant.
Traffic officers on 24/7 schedule
Nzimande also announced that in the current financial year there will be an increase the number of law enforcement officers on public roads.
“The department will advocate that law enforcement is declared an essential service, to ensure availability of traffic officers on a 24/7 schedule on the country’s our roads.”
The idea of declaring traffic jobs an essential service and introducing around-the-clock shifts was to ensure visibility of traffic officers on the roads.
A ministerial task team, consisting officials from the Department of Justice, the National Prosecuting Authority, and the Road Traffic Management Corporation, has been established to review current legislation and to reclassify traffic violation from Schedule 5.
Furthermore, the department will continue to conduct roadshows with provinces, municipalities and the private sector on the new Road Safety Strategy and plans while also fostering close relationships with the taxi industry.
“Through SANRAL, we will implement Horizon 2030 Strategy and reconfigure the organisation to ensure it can deliver on its mandate optimally.
“We will implement key flagship projects including the N2 Wild Coast, the Moloto R573 Road upgrade and the Durban-Free State-Gauteng Logistics and Industrial Corridor,” the Minister announced.
Demerit points system
The demerit points system, which is an integral part of the AARTO, will be implemented nationally as part of the rollout that is envisaged to take place after the promulgation of the AARTO Act.
The demerit system docks points from the licenses of drivers who contravene traffic rules. This will result in the cancellation of driving licenses for repeat offenders.
The act was passed in the National Assembly in September 2017 and since the start of 2018, many provinces have held public hearings.
The department will also refine the Linking Africa Plan as a transport and trade plan which seeks to improve the unimpeded flow of commercial transportation, increase productivity, dependability, transport reliability and safety of cross-border movements between South Africa and SADC member states.
Transforming aviation sector
Furthermore, Nzimade said they will continue to advance transformation in the aviation industry, which he described as reluctant to advance and fully embrace the transformation agenda.
“We will pay special focus in areas where there is lack of transformation, particularly in the aviation and maritime sectors.
“Education and training must, therefore, be looked at very closely to ensure that we empower our employees, raise productivity levels and meet the skills needs of a modern economy by also recruiting young black and women professionals within the transport sector,” the Minister said.
The department will submit the ACSA and ATNS Amendments Bills to Cabinet and Parliament during the 2018/19 financial year. The Bills address future stability, predictability, transparency, and sustainability in the economic regulation of the aviation industry.
In addition, the department will implement Operation Phakisa projects including enhancing the competitiveness of the South African Ship Register, which currently, stands at four ships. – SAnews.gov.za