President Cyril Ramaphosa says although South Africa continues to rank in the top five African countries with the best infrastructure, more can be done to improve its development.
In his weekly newsletter on Monday, Ramaphosa highlighted that good infrastructure can be the foundation of greater and faster economic growth.
“However, for world-class infrastructure to continue to support our developmental goals, it has to be properly, effectively and efficiently maintained. And decisions on infrastructure investment have to respond to the growing need and upgraded appropriately.
“We have good quality infrastructure, but in far too many instances it is not being properly maintained and upgraded,” Ramaphosa said.
“Last year, the South African Institution of Civil Engineering gave the country’s social infrastructure a D rating, with E being failed or failing. Passenger rail scored particularly low, achieving an E.”
He warned that neglecting infrastructure maintenance can have “detrimental consequences”.
“We are seeing accidents, disease outbreaks and other tragedies that in a number of instances have been associated with dilapidated infrastructure. The maintenance of public infrastructure is often the responsibility of local government. It remains of concern that municipalities are failing to spend conditional grants allocated to them for maintenance and upgrades of infrastructure.”
A case in point is the recent explosion in Johannesburg, when a vast stretch of Lilian Ngoyi Street (Bree Str) erupted, sending minibus taxis tumbling onto one another and killing a commuter.
Although the cause of the explosion remains unclear, mounting evidence point to a build-up of methane gas and failing infrastructure.
Ramaphosa said municipalities, particularly those that are smaller, do not have the capacity to implement infrastructure plans.
However, some are spending conditional grants “successfully and timeously.
“For example, approximately 91% of funding allocated to municipalities to fund reconstruction and rehabilitation after floods in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal was spent by the respective municipalities.”
“This illustrates that with the necessary support, technical assistance, planning and coordination, the problem of municipal underspending on public infrastructure can be overcome,” he said.
He said the government continued to prioritise investment in infrastructure and construction is underway on several bulk water, housing, energy and roads projects.
“Together with better infrastructure maintenance, we are determined that these investments will make a big difference in people’s lives. When social infrastructure is well-maintained not only do citizens benefit, but businesses are also supported and the economy as a whole grows and develops,” Ramaphosa said. – SAnews.gov.za\