OPINION | A brighter future: Infrastructure needs to be reclaimed

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Gauteng Premier David Makhura and Gauteng Educatrion MEC Panyaza Lesufi at the unveiling of Abram Hlophe Primary School in Katlehong on 15 February 2021. (Kayleen Morgan, News24)
Gauteng Premier David Makhura and Gauteng Educatrion MEC Panyaza Lesufi at the unveiling of Abram Hlophe Primary School in Katlehong on 15 February 2021. (Kayleen Morgan, News24)

The Gauteng government has embarked on a project of investing in communities, but Tasneem Motara writes that these projects need to be safeguarded. 


One of the most significant ways of sustaining and advancing our society is through building social and economic infrastructure. To take our nation forward in this area, government is on a path to unlock infrastructure investments to change our socio-economic landscape.

Our infrastructure investments, detailed in our Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan to overcome the impact of Covid-19, are more than just bricks and mortar. These are targeted projects that will kick-start our economy, and create more opportunities for economic participation by event small enterprises. We intend to use infrastructure to secure dignified work, inclusive growth and social protection for those in need.

The national build programme focuses on critical network infrastructure such as ports, roads and rail that are key to our economy’s competitiveness. Importantly, it also expands social infrastructure such as schools, water, sanitation, hospitals, early childhood development centres, libraries and housing for the benefit of our people.

State-of-the-art school

Through our social infrastructure investments, we are helping meet the basic human needs of our people, while at the same time enhancing quality of life and social wellbeing. 

The social infrastructure that we are building plays an important role in developing strong and inclusive communities.

Earlier this month, the Gauteng Provincial Government launched the R77-million state-of-the-art Abram Hlophe Primary School for the community of Katlehong in Ekurhuleni. The project included the renovation of all brick-and-mortar structures and removing asbestos and mobile structures.

The school now boasts modern equipment, features 15 new classrooms, a Grade R block and reception offices. It ensures pupils from Katlehong will now attend a school close to where they stay.

The project is part of our school infrastructure programme to build 43 schools across the province. It focuses on developing schools with facilities such as sports grounds, science labs and learning equipment.

Ever since the announcement of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, two major human settlements projects that will provide homes to nearly 68 000 households in the Gauteng Province have been launched. 

These projects are being built to promote spatial integration in residential settlements, transport, social and economic areas. Through these investments, more residents will have access to social and economic services, opportunities and choices.

Our social infrastructure also targets the expansion of national, rural and municipal road rehabilitation and maintenance using labour intensive methods. It is not just about building roads, it is investing in our future as roads infrastructure plays a critical role in sustaining economic growth.

We see our infrastructure projects leading to a revival of the construction industry and the creation of much-needed jobs, including sector related products, goods and services. Its prioritisation will see the construction sector and its supporting industries become one of the biggest employers in the country.

Through our social infrastructure build in the health sector, we are bringing health services closer to our people. The Thelle Mogoerane Hospital in Ekurhuleni is being constructed at a cost of R1.4 billion and will be one of the largest hospitals in the country.

Vandalism 

The hospital is part of six new hospitals being built over the next 10 years to meet our ever-growing demand for health services in the province. We have also prioritised the major renovation of a number of hospitals and clinics.  It includes the upgrade of a clinic for residents of Roodepoort in the City of Johannesburg and the Esizayo Clinic in Cosmo City, which has all the features of a modern facility.

While our projects are to be celebrated, we must also do everything to safeguard our social infrastructure. The public infrastructure we are building belongs to all of us and must be protected. When infrastructure such as libraries, police stations and schools are vandalised or destroyed it holds the future of our nation to ransom.

Moreover, the cost of replacing stolen or damaged infrastructure ultimately comes out of our pockets as taxpayers, and the money that is used to rebuild those facilities could have been used to expand other critical infrastructure.

Public social infrastructure is part of our common heritage that benefits everyone in our community. Let us reclaim our schools, clinics and libraries so that the future generations can benefit. We must pledge to care for, preserve and protect public property for the benefit of our children.

Our investments on social infrastructure support the economic development and furthers economic growth by providing services, which in turn allows businesses to develop and flourish. Through our infrastructure investment we are confident that the foundation is being laid to thrust us forward to a brighter future.

- Tasneem Motara is the Gauteng MEC for Infrastructure Development. 


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