R22bn to fix potholes: Ndebele

Caiphus Kgosana

 THE government is to spend R22-billion over the next three years to plug potholes on all secondary and local roads.

The S’hamba Sonke (walking together) project, a massive pothole-patching programme involving locals who will be recruited to repair damaged secondary, district and municipal roads, is expected to create 70 000 jobs.

Transport Minister S’bu Ndebele told journalists in Cape Town that R6.2-billion had been set aside for the project this year, another R7.5-billion for the next financial year and R8.2-billion in 2013-14.

He said South Africa was moving towards striking a balance between road construction and maintenance where the international benchmark is 40% construction and 60% maintenance.

Ndebele said road engineers would be deployed all over the road network and would be tasked with driving up and down stretches of road to identify damaged ones and repair potholes before they expand to large ditches.

A pothole hotline will also be launched to allow road-users to report potholes on their routes.

“S’hamba Sonke will no doubt arrest the decline of our infrastructure and create thousands of jobs,” he said.

Ndebele said the government was battling to finance the R497-billion road construction backlog and was considering public-private partnership models as well as a user pay principle, which would see toll road schemes such as the one that will be in operation on the freeways between Pretoria and Johannesburg in June expanded all over the country.

Meanwhile, the government is planning to buy more than 8 000 passenger train coaches to replace its ageing fleet in the next 18 months. The ambitious R80-billion project would result in the introduction of modern, faster trains transporting large volumes of commuters.

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