“Pray for miracles ….. but plant cabbages” – St Benedict
In his State of the Nation address, President Zuma laid down a government program that requires significant investment in the country’s infrastructure.
The DA enthusiastically supports that call as a key component in the building of a platform that supports economic growth, job creation and fighting poverty. Of course, more is required, but infrastructure provision is vital.
At a national level, the key elements of freight railways, harbours and national roads are critical, as is the provision of dams, electricity generation and transmission.
It is however crucial that the provision of infrastructure at the local level is significantly enhanced because this is where the majority of our people, rich and poor, experience the value of the infrastructure in their daily lives.
It is only when people have reliable water, sanitation, electricity and transport that they are able to function adequately in a modern economy. If they have none or inadequate supply of these services, they have much less time available to study or work and economic production suffers.
We thus have to ensure that our local governments are empowered by the national and provincial governments to be able to deliver on the infrastructure needs of our people. Local government must either have adequate income sources of its own or an adequate share of the national tax-base to fund infrastructure provision.
South Africa has limited numbers of skilled project managers. This is a key area requiring a rapid up-skilling of many more people so that we are able to scale up the rate of infrastructure provision.
Unfortunately, the needs do not stop at funding and project management skills. There are a whole range of impediments within the delivery chain where government must review its systems and processes to enable faster delivery.
In the planning and pre-construction phase, where the biggest delays are experienced, a range of issues have to be resolved, including land ownership, zoning, environmental approvals, community consultation, appropriate design, plans for operations, funding arrangements, tender specifications and tender processes.
Good project management, aligned with political will and intergovernmental co-operation can achieve wonders, as we discovered in the process of delivering the infrastructure required for the FIFA 2010 Soccer World Cup.
Jeffreys Bay is in dire need of an infrastructure upgrade. Our roads are falling apart and we have sewage running in the streets of our once pristine town. The situation cannot be allowed to deteriorate any further. The time for action is now!