SA faces R149bn road repair bill

2014-07-08 18:03

More than 173 000km of municipal roads across South Africa are in poor to very poor condition, MPs have heard.

Repairing them will cost about R149 billion, acting transport director-general Mawethu Vilana told Parliament’s transport portfolio committee today.

“What we generally refer to as ‘backlog’ is in the categories poor and very poor.

[This alone] requires about R149 billion. It’s a mountain to climb,” he said.

According to the department’s strategic and annual performance plan, tabled at the briefing, there are 173 089km of roads in “poor to very poor condition”, of which 16 402km are paved roads and 156 687km gravel.The cost of repairing them is R118 billion and R31 billion respectively.

The document defines poor roads as those needing “significant renewal or rehabilitation”, and very poor roads as those “in imminent danger of structural failure and requiring substantial renewal or upgrading”.

Vilana said the majority of roads in these categories were in municipalities across the country.

“Municipal road infrastructure is really a challenge.”

Of those roads in very good or good condition – about 40% of the total – the majority were managed by the SA National Road Agency (Sanral).

Earlier, Vilana told the committee that Sanral now managed more than 22 000km of roads in South Africa.

“Of [this], only 14% is tolled. The other 86% is funded through the public purse.

“So when we talk about Sanral and the tolling of roads ... that is what we need to contextualise: the majority of roads infrastructure is funded through the public purse.”

Asked during a break in the proceedings if this ratio was likely to change much over the next five years, Vilana said this was unlikely.

“There is a sense that we won’t want to alter that balance,” he said, adding that to do so would “over-burden” road users.

However, the government was looking to involve the private sector in tolling.

“There is room and space for tolling of what we believe is key economic road infrastructure,” he said.

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