The government is to roll out the s’hamba sonke (walking together) programme in a bid to address road maintenance, particularly potholes, and create jobs, Transport Minister Sbu Ndebele said on Tuesday.
This was a new and innovative nationwide programme focusing on the maintenance of secondary road infrastructure using labour-intensive methods of construction and maintenance, he told a media briefing at Parliament in his capacity as chairperson of the infrastructure development cluster of ministries.
“We have set aside R6,4-billion in 2011/12, R7,5-billion in 2012/13 and R8,2-billion for 2013/14 … At least 70 000 jobs will be created in 2011 through this programme,” he said.
Historically as a country, South Africa had invested mainly in road construction without striking the balance between maintenance and construction.
The international benchmark was a 60/40 split between maintenance and construction.
In South Africa, the reverse applied and this programme was aimed at matching the international benchmark, he said.
S’hamba sonke included a massive pothole-patching programme that would be rolled out nationally with immediate effect.
A pothole hotline would be launched for road users to report potholes.
“S’hamba sonke will no doubt arrest the decline of our infrastructure and create thousands of jobs,” Ndebele said.
Roads engineers and superintendents would be deployed all over the network with the responsibility to address potholes.
They would be charged with driving up and down stretches of road every morning to determine the daily condition of the road network.
In this way, potholes would be identified and repaired early.
“We will streamline the procurement process so that the necessary skills and inputs are sourced through a specially designed procurement regime to ensure provinces are ready to implement, including setting up project management units in all provinces and nationally to ensure we are ready to roll by the beginning of the financial year,” he said.
“We will also explore the use of alternative technologies for the patching of potholes and the maintenance of roads.”
The question of roads financing was a problem facing the country.
“We have therefore decided to host a roads funding conference in March in Durban to which we will invite the roads sector to debate and recommend future funding options.
“We will look at options such as public partnerships, user pay principle and other potential sources of funding so we avoid overburdening the user,” Ndebele said. — Sapa