/ 6 September 2019

Facts and figures: 2019/2020 policy speech

The EC transport department is hard at work to ensure that gravel roads are upgraded and that strategic bridges are built
The EC transport department is hard at work to ensure that gravel roads are upgraded and that strategic bridges are built



Transport, safety and liaison MEC Weziwe Tikana recently tabled her 2019/20 policy speech to members of the provincial legislature, reaffirming the department’s commitment to building and strengthening the Eastern Cape. This task, she believes, requires government, the community and the private sector to “stand together, shoulder to shoulder, and continue to improve our province”.

What was achieved recently:

Over the last five years the department has invested significant resources to address shortages in critical and scarce skills relevant to the transport sector.

1. Hundreds of young people benefited from this skills development programme as follows:

  • civil and mechanical engineering: 80
  • transport economics: eight
  • aviation: 11 pilots and eight air traffic controllers
  • information technology: five
  • traffic officers: 89 (external recruits) and 23 internal recruits
  • maritime studies: 10
  • 2. During the 2018/19 financial year, 162 plant items worth more than R252-million were acquired.

    3. The department has entered into three-year contracts with a panel of 38 plant hire companies to speed up response times for emergency maintenance.

    4. Since 2018, three out of nine Bailey bridges earmarked were completed. These include Nyosana in Port St Johns, Matatiele bridge on the T70 and Zazulwana bridge in Butterworth.

    5. At the end of June 2019, 30 traffic trainees graduated at the Nelson Mandela Traffic Training College.

    Looking ahead, the department will during the 2019/20 financial year implement various programmes, which, Tikana said, respond to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call to South Africans that, “within the next 10 years will have made progress in tackling poverty, inequality and unemployment”.

    Building human resource capacity

    1. The department’s investment in people through bursaries has received an allocation of R6.1-million for the current year. In addition to this, 135 graduates will be introduced to the world of work through a two-year internship programme.

    2. Plans are being finalised to implement a MerSeta-endorsed Artisan Development Programme, targeting general assistants and tradesmen, who will work under the supervision of artisan mechanics to improve their skill levels to that of artisans. This initiative will be implemented in collaboration with the department of higher education and training.

    3. The Engineering Council of South Africa will assist with the professional development of young engineers in the department.

    4. A Service Level Agreement has been instituted with Ikhala TVET College for capacity development programmes for internal staff and the empowerment of communities through the provision of training in labour-intensive programmes such as brick paving, pothole patching and gabion basket making.

    Road infrastructure improvement

    1. 732km of the provincial road network will undergo re-gravelling.

    2. On out-sourced construction, over the next three years the Department will prioritise the following strategic projects;

  • 15km from Willowvale to Dwesa,
  • 14km of the N2 to Siphetu Hospital
  • 16km from R61 St Barnabas Hospital to Hluleka Nature Reserve road.
  • 3. The in-house construction team continues with the upgrade of the following roads:

  • 9km from Elliotdale to Madwaleni,
  • 27km from Coffee Bay to Zithulele Hospital
  • 26km from Ngqeleni to Canzibe Hospital
  • 15km from Cofimvaba to Askeaton.
  • 4. Strengthening partnerships with the national department of defence for the construction of Bailey bridges. Structures to be completed during 2019/20 include;

  • Tora bridge in Ngcobo, Nkobongo, Fini and Bilatye, all in the Chris Hani district
  • Jozana and Sterkspruit bridges in Joe Gqabi district.
  • Transport operations

    1. The department continues to provide subsidies to Algoa Bus Company, which operates in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, and Africa’s Best 350 Ltd, to operate 136 routes in the Alfred Nzo, Amathole, Chris Hani and OR Tambo districts.

    2. Support to recognised public transport co-ordinating bodies continues, and during the financial year the South African National Taxi Council will receive an allocation of R3-million through the Eastern Cape Taxi Council, while the Eastern Cape Small Bus Operators Council will be supported with R1.5-million to enable the two bodies to run their operations and empower their membership.

    3. Minister of Transport Fikile Mbabula recently announced the revival of the Taxi Recapitalisation Programme under the auspices of Taxi Recapitalisation South Africa (TRSA). The national department of transport will collaborate with TRSA and implement awareness campaigns to explain the various processes involved.

    4. Mthatha airport remains a strategic service delivery centre and the department is on course to ensure full compliance with the requirements of the South African Civil Aviation Authority. As a fully functional Category 4 Airport, it accommodates five flights in and out operated by SA Express and SA Airlink from Monday to Friday between Mthatha and Johannesburg. There are two flights in and out on Saturday and Sunday.

    5. Transnet has been awarded the concession for the operation of the Amabhele to Mthatha railway to Sbhekuza Rail, a division of Sbhekuza Investments, and will commence its freight rail pilot service before the end of 2019.

    6. The Scholar Transport Programme implemented in collaboration with the department of education is now benefiting 83 000 learners transported to and from 749 schools across the province. The current contract with operators will expire at the end of December 2019. The department has published a new three-year tender, which will be implemented from January 2020.

    Transport regulations

    1. In line with the National Road Safety Strategy, the department will strengthen the implementation of a holistic approach, where road safety education, traffic law enforcement, traffic engineering and evaluation will enhance road safety.

    2. In 2018/19 the department made several investments in traffic law enforcement, including the acquisition of 12 high-powered vehicles to increase visibility on the roads.

    3. The introduction of the Automatic Number Plate Recognition System, fitted in two busses, has improved the execution of warrants and brought services closer to motorists, making it easier for drivers to pay their traffic fines. In the next few months, an additional three busses will broaden reach and enhance effectiveness during road operations.

    Community-based programmes

    Job creation and empowerment remain key components of our Community Based Programmes, against the backdrop of a Stats SA report which indicate that 35% of households in the Eastern Cape depend on grants.

    1. Through phase four of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), the department will create 52 275 work opportunities in the transport sector.

    2. Empowerment intervention programmes will result in the training of 2 500 EPWP beneficiaries in technical and soft skills.

    3. 500 youths (18 – 35 years), will also receive 18 months of experiential training, earning a R2 300 stipend per month.

    4. The department will implement labour-intensive initiatives in Sakhisizwe, King Sabata Dalindyebo and Umzimvubu local municipalities. The focus will be on rehabilitating taxi ranks, drainage systems and roadside maintenance.

    Bailey bridges connect communities to essential services

    The residents of Zazulwana village near Butterworth have welcomed the installation of a new Bailey bridge, which will improve the mobility of peopletravelling to and from the area.

    It is one of nine galvanised steel elevated bridges, known as Bailey bridges, in a project implemented by the department of transport in partnership with the national department of defence and military veterans as well as public works. The total cost of the Bailey bridges is R77-million.

    According to community member Nonathi Bhenya, crossing the river on rainy days used to be a big problem. “We were suffering a lot, especially when it is raining. We would panic because we knew that the river would overflow, and it was difficult for our children to attend school. Access to clinics and shops was a nightmare as well,” said Bhenya.

    Community members related their stories of hardships they endured over the years. Thembinkosi Zulu told a story where he and members of his family had to carry a coffin on their shoulders and walk through the engorged river to access a cemetery.

    Nobulelani Mndende had to give birth at home because the river was full. “In 2004 I was forced to deliver my child at home; I could not cross the river as it was overflowing,” said Mndende, adding that it was a relief to no longer have to use the small risky wooden bridge.

    Transport, safety and liaison MEC Weziwe Tikana said that she appreciated the partnership with the two departments. She said that it is in line with the governmental recommendation of “doing more with less”, while ensuring that critical services are delivered. “Without the support from our partners, it might have taken us longer to deliver on this,” she said.

    She pleaded with the community to work together and with government to protect vital resources such as the bridge. The purpose of building the bridge is to connect people and provide easy access to social amenities and economic opportunities.

    “We are mindful of the destructive effects adverse weather conditions have on our people, making it difficult for them to access much-needed services like healthcare and other social services in times of need, while making it difficult for our officials and other rescue personnel to reach out to them timeously.

    “We are glad at least that this particular community has been spared that because of this bridge. We are working very hard as government to attend to the need for more bridges and other transport infrastructure in the province,” said Tikana.

    The other two completed bridges were opened; one at Nyosana village in Port St Johns, and Matatiele bridge on the T70. Tora Bridge in Ngcobo is under construction and work will soon start on the Nkobongo, Fini and Bilatye bridges in the Chris Hani district as well as Jozana and Sterkspruit bridges in the Joe Gqabi district.

    Road upgrade for Coffee Bay

    Nothusile Rhobo is one of the residents of Coffee Bay who is eagerly awaiting the completion of the 25km road project from Maphuza village to Hole in the Wall.

    While she is grateful, she also called on motorists in the area to be patient on the narrow bridges, and to exercise extra caution when making use of the road. She said: “The challenge we are having now is that motorists drive faster on the first phase that has been completed. Last week a learner was knocked down by a vehicle moving at high speed,” said Rhobo.

    The Coffee Bay road construction is half complete, with 5.6km of the road already tarred, and workers are now busy with the second phase. The project includes the upgrading of the road from gravel to a tarred surface and broadening three narrow bridges to improve traffic flow in the area.

    Site manager Luzuko Shode said the second phase of the project is expected to be finalised during the 2019/20 financial year, with the final phase projected for the 2020/2021 financial year. “We are hoping to finish the project within the projected period,” he said.

    Shode said that the department will need to speed up its engagements with the community and households, as the project requires the relocation of some houses and graves.

    Since its commencement, the project has benefited 52 community members. It has impacted positively on their economic status, reduced unemployment and imparted vital skills.

    On completion, it is envisaged that the safer road network will improve business opportunities and attract more tourists to the coastal town of Coffee Bay, a central part of the scenic Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape.