Transport: Dept to spend hugely on road repairs

2011-03-30 00:00

FOUR billion rand of the KZN Transport Department’s R6 billion budget will go on road infrastructure development, with the bulk going to road maintenance and pothole repairs.

Transport MEC Willies Mchunu said R2,5 billion will go on road maintenance and R1,98 billion on new construction projects. The split in allocation is aimed at striking a balance in the construction of new roads and the maintenance of existing roads.

Mchunu said the department is committed to dealing with the vexing problem of potholes, but storms that continue to damage and destroy the province’s roads are a challenge. The department received R214 million in disaster funds for the repairs of roads damaged in the November 2009 and January 2010 floods. However, a further R311,45 million is needed to repair damages still outstanding from the January 2011 floods, the MEC said.

Another challenge facing the department is the shortage of bitumen and gravel. Mchunu said local oil refineries failed to produce the volume of bitumen necessary for the upgrade and maintenance of provincial roads. Supplies were rapidly used up when roads were being upgraded before the World Cup.

Department head Chris Hlabisa said the shortages are due to high demand for bitumen combined with high costs.

Mchunu said it has been recommended that national government intervene to ensure better co-ordination by the refineries.

“A possible solution is to declare bitumen as a national strategic mineral resource,” he said. This way bitumen will be treated as fuel and refineries would be obliged to keep minimum strategic reserves “even if it means importing the product”, and the price would then be regulated by the government.








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