- The SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) has pumped R16.8 billion into major construction of roads and mega bridges in the Eastern Cape.
- Premier Oscar Mabuyane announced that developments at the Special Economic Zones in East London and Port Elizabeth would create thousands of jobs.
- While the DA welcomed the premier's state of the province address, it warned that corruption could destroy the initiatives.
The SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) has pumped R16.8 billion into major construction projects in the Eastern Cape as Premier Oscar Mabuyane announced his dream to reverse the legacy of apartheid spatial planning.
Mabuyane made the announcement at the Eastern Cape legislature in Bhisho while delivering the state of the province address.
This year's address focused heavily on physical infrastructure development and job creation.
The R16.8 billion investment is budgeted over the next two years with R4.6 billion awarded to 14 projects which have turned large parts of the province into construction sites, revealed Mabuyane.
He said contractors were currently on site building roads from Kareedouw to Humansdorp, Jansenville to Wolwefontein, King William's Town, Fort Beaufort to Alice, Middleburg, Molteno, Maletswai to Lady Grey to Barkley East, Whittlesea to Komani, Dordrecht to Indwe, Engcobo and other parts of the province.
"Throughout the province, contractors are on site contributing to building the Eastern Cape we all want," said Mabuyane.
He also announced the much-anticipated construction of the N2 Wild Coast Toll Road project as a major breakthrough in the development of the Wild Coast Corridor.
"When the sun rises in Mpondoland, the dust and cranes at the 580 metre long cable-stay bridge over the Msikaba gorge is confirmation that our dream for balanced geo-spatial development to reverse apartheid planning will be realised," he said.
Mabuyane's speech also focused on job opportunities.
Mabuyane said the province's two established Special Economic Zones, in East London and in Port Elizabeth's Coega, have attracted over R19 billion worth of investment.
In 2020, the East London SEZ completed the construction of nine investor facilities and the expansion of three existing facilities.
Mabuyane said these facilities would create an additional 1 534 manufacturing and services jobs and these would be operationalised within the next two years.
The construction phase created an additional 4 039 construction job opportunities between 2019 and 2020.
The current year is expected to see an additional six new investor facilities being constructed on the East London SEZ platform, while an additional two investors would be expanding their facilities in the zone, Mabuyane added.
One of these will be Sundale Dairy which will be building a new cheese facility in the zone, he revealed.
These investors are expected to create 409 additional manufacturing and services jobs which will be operationalised from 2021/2022, added Mabuyane.
The construction phase would lead to the creation of 1 800 construction job opportunities, he said.
While the DA welcomed the premier's state of the province address, it warned that corruption could destroy the initiatives.
DA leader in the Eastern Cape legislature, Bobby Stevenson, said: "Unless these initiatives are built on the rock of good governance, they will be swallowed up by the quicksands of corruption, cadre deployment, and maladministration. The premier needs to ensure that there is a strong foundation of consequence management, so that those who undermine the work being done are held to account."
Mabuyane also revealed that this year would see SANRAL concluding the process to find a replacement contractor for the Mtentu bridge, which forms part of the N2 Wild Coast project.
The next phase would see the construction of roads from Lingeni to Msikaba Bridge and from Msikaba Bridge to Mtentu Bridge, said Mabuyane.
"We are committed to increasing local content and adherence to our Local Economic Development Framework by ensuring that construction material is sourced locally," he said.
Mabuyane also announced that the R61 from Bhaziya to Mthatha airport junction is in the final stages of procurement and an award was due out shortly by SANRAL.
In prioritising road infrastructure to popular tourism destinations, contractors are on site in many of the province's key roads, including from Jansenville to R63 near Graaff-Reinet, Makhanda to Port Alfred, Magusheni to Flagstaff and Phase 3 to Mzamba, the N2 to Siphethu Phase 4 Road and R61 to Hluleka Game Reserve, Willowvale to Dwesa, said Mabuyane.
Did you know you can comment on this article? Subscribe to News24 and add your voice to the conversation.