Big money to build SA

2014-02-27 00:00

THE focus on new public infrastructure development continues, with a massive R847 billion to be spent on these projects over the next three years.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan updated Parliament on the government’s infrastructure programme in the Budget yesterday. The building of new infrastructure is a key piece in the government’s armoury of job creation strategies.

Gordhan said the first unit of the Medupi power station in Gauteng was expected to be completed towards the end of this year.

Transnet has increased capacity on its coal line by 10 million tons to 80 million tons per year, and there are advanced plans to expand the coal, iron ore and manganese lines.

Seven new cranes were installed at the Durban container terminal last year, increasing efficiency by a claimed 27%.

The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa refurbished 500 metrorail coaches last year and the rolling stock procurement programme — R5,5 billion on locomotives — will get under way this year.

The South African National Roads Agency invested R137,4 billion from 2010 to 2014 to maintain and develop new roads.

The big metropolitan governments are investing heavily in pubic transport, with Cape Town and Johannesburg already operating dedicated bus stations, depots and lanes. Tshwane, Mbombela, Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, eThekwini, Rustenburg and George have started similar infrastructure.

Spending on social infrastructure — education, health and community facilities — is expected to rise to R43 billion in 2016/17 from R30 billion last year, with school facilities and refurbishing hospitals and clinics a priority.

A programme to rehabilitate 35 dams is complete and work is in progress on the country’s five water transfer schemes. The government spent R8 billion on water resources and bulk water infrastructure in the 2013/14.

This year, R40 billion will be transferred to local governments for their water, sanitation, energy and environmental functions.

Forty–seven private sector renew­able energy contracts were awarded to companies last year and the year before, and the projects are nearly all still in construction. The contracts represent investment of R70 billion, and another R45 billion of investment will be added this year.

The details of the government’s new broadband development plan will shortly be announced, according to the Budget Review document.

Improvements to bulk water infrastructure will be made over the next three years and 830 000 households are expected to be connected to the electricity grid.

“In addition, there will be strong growth in the resources made available to local government to deliver water and improve sanitation, including eliminating bucket toilets,” the Budget Review said.

Gordhan said real gross fixed capital investment grew at an estimated 3,2% in 2013, down from 4,4% in 2012.

Investment by state-owned companies stabilised in 2013 after recording strong growth of nearly 7,6% in the second half of 2012.

“A modest improvement in investment by public corporations was offset by lower growth in general government and private capital outlays,” he said.

Government’s general investment sped up to 9,7% in the third quarter of last year as provincial and local governments upgraded public roads, and rolled-out water and sanitation works, the Budget Review said.

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