Government’s radical new roll-out

2012-10-20 13:14

Fresh infrastructure will be economic, social and integrated, says deputy minister

Government’s new infrastructure roll-out will be different, government ministers told a conference on Friday.

“It (the infrastructure roll-out) is economic, social and integrated infrastructure. It is about spatial transformation. Too much of our development has been plantation to port, mine to port,” said Deputy Public Works Minister Jeremy Cronin.

“You can’t have sustainable development and industrialisation without infrastructure that is of a different kind,” he said.

He told the Presidential Infrastructure Investment Conference in Sandton that government had adopted this radically different approach to infrastructure roll-out so that new development could better reflect a new society.

Infrastructure programmes would be coordinated by the commission.

Cronin said such coordination would prevent the loss of jobs that was experienced just before the beginning of the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

Government would also ensure there was social infrastructure – such as water, hospitals, schools and housing – in order to prevent the kind of protests witnessed recently in the mining sector.

“It is also about urban transformation – infrastructure that does not repeat the apartheid urban patterns, but begins to create nonracial work cities and green cities.”

According to Cronin, government has planned a R4 trillion infrastructure roll-out over the next 15 years.

The commission’s secretariat chairperson, Ebrahim Patel, said that although no specific numbers had been finalised, each project would unlock hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Over the next three years, government would spend R844 billion on infrastructure programmes.

Government has identified 18 infrastructure projects to take place in South Africa in the next 10 to 20 years, Patel said.

He added that 645 projects were identified by the commission and these had been streamlined to 18 strategic infrastructure projects.

The estimated value of the projects over the next 15 years was R4 trillion.

But not all the funds would come from the fiscus. Other funding would come from fees and levied charges by state-owned entities such as electricity supplier Eskom and transport operator Transnet.

Patel said the R4 trillion included African regional projects, but excluded the Grand Inga Dam in the Democratic Republic of the Congo “because of its price tag”.

Included in the R4 trillion figure are private sector projects that are part of the strategic infrastructure projects, but those at the concept stage are excluded.

Patel said the commission had also developed a framework to deal with tender corruption, which would be made public once finalised.

Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Minister Collins Chabane said the infrastructure roll-out would attract new investment.

“The economic infrastructure which we proposed is meant to trigger investment. It is an enabling infrastructure which is going to trigger further investments.

“For the first time, we are rolling out infrastructure over all the regions of the country . . . linked to specific economic potential which exists in those areas,” he said.

Once this infrastructure was started, the private sector would put in their own investment.

Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba said the new infrastructure roll-out would not just build roads and railway lines, but improve the country’s skills base.

This approach had already been adopted in major state-owned enterprises.

“The skills development budget of Eskom has increased from about R800 million to R1.4 billion in this financial year. Transnet will be investing about R7.6 billion in skills development over the next seven years,” said Gigaba.

One of the projects would be the unlocking of the northern mineral belt, with Waterberg as the financial catalyst in Limpopo.

The multibillion-rand project entails the mining of minerals and the development of rail, water pipeline, energy generation and transmission infrastructure.

Patel said the northern mineral belt had 18 billion tons of coal, 6 323 tons of platinum, 5.5 tons of chromite and 3 611 tons of palladium lying untapped.

Government would build a Durban-Free State-Gauteng logistics and industrial corridor to strengthen the logistics and transport corridor between South Africa’s main industrial hubs.

A total of 122 nursing colleges would be built nationally and two universities would be built, in Northern Cape and Mpumalanga.

Six hospitals would also be built to improve the public health system.

Other projects would include improving road infrastructure, housing development, information technology and linking rural infrastructure to cities.

– Fin24 and Sapa 

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