South African Infrastructure plan bears fruit

Pretoria – Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe says government has taken the advice of the National Development Plan to heart and put in place an ambitious infrastructure plan which is registering progress.

Since 2009, government has been allocating more than R800 billion in the rolling Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) towards infrastructure. By the end of 2014, government had spent R1 trillion in developing the much-needed infrastructure.

“Government understands that without sufficient and well-maintained infrastructure, our development ambitions will not be realised,” said the Minister.

He was speaking at the inaugural Gauteng Infrastructure Investment Conference in Midrand on Thursday, where he outlined some of government’s investment plans, including projects already underway and progress being made.

Regarding transport infrastructure, the Minister said the country has made significant progress.

“After decades of under-investment in maintenance and expansion, the country is in the process of revitalising its transport networks to become the transport hub for Southern Africa.

“Government is spending in the region of R51 billion on new rail rolling stock to renew the passenger fleet as well as R4 billion on new hybrid locomotives. To date, PRASA has taken delivery of 13 of the 70 new locomotives,” said Minister Radebe.

He said Transnet Freight Rail is spending a further R50 billion to procure 1064 locomotives, of which 599 will be electric and 465 diesel for its General Freight Business unit by February 2019.

Tenders have been awarded to different consortia led by General Electric, China North Rail, China South Rail and Bombardier Transportation.

Minister Radebe said these initiatives place South Africa in the position of having the largest wholesale rail renewal and general overhaul programme in Africa.

In the water sector, raising of the Clanwilliam Dam wall in Cape Town - at a projected cost of R2.4 billion - has already commenced and is due for completion in 2018.

In KwaZulu-Natal, the Hazelmere Dam wall will be raised at a cost of R528 million for the growing demand in the eThekwini and Ilembe District Municipalities.

The Groot Letaba River Water Development Project in Limpopo is in the planning phase.

“It consists of the construction of a dam at Nwamitwa, and the regional bulk distribution of water for domestic use for approximately 425 000 affected people in the Greater Tzaneen Local Municipality,” said the Minister.

Further to this, the Luvuvhu River Government Water Scheme (Nandoni Bulk Water Supply) and Lesotho Highlands Water Project Phase II Water Transfer have started in earnest.

“While energy remains one of the most significant constraints to economic growth and the attainment of our development objectives, some successes have been achieved.

“In the four bidding windows for renewable energy generation by independent power producers, 92 projects have been awarded which will generate a total of 6 327 MW. Of these, 37 projects are already operational and are delivering 1 827 MW to the grid.

“Through this programme, a total of R193 billion of private sector investment has been unlocked,” said Minister Radebe.

Other energy projects that are at different stages of development include a co-generation programme, a gas to power programme, a coal base load programme and cross-border hydro power.

He said all of these programmes will require significant private sector investment in order to be realised.

“These are only some of the projects which form part of our ambitious infrastructure plan aimed at getting this country working and meeting the expectations of its people.

“We have made some progress but working alone, the pace will simply not be quick enough to turn the situation around and lift this economy to a higher level of growth and development,” said the Minister, adding that there was an urgent need to find win-win solutions for planning, funding and delivering our infrastructure programme.