[Opinion] Private sector a solution to SA’s infrastructure issues

Potholes, E-tolls, and a lack of general infrastructural maintenance are not the only issues on SA roads. The SA National Roads Agency (Sanral) pleads poverty, claiming it can no longer expand the roads it has authority over due to SA reaching a “fiscal cliff”. According to Sanral’s GM for communications & marketing, Vusi Mona, the agency has a funding shortfall of R150bn.

Responsibility for the country’s roads is divided between Sanral and the eight metros, nine provinces and multitude of local municipalities. According to its latest annual performance presentation to the portfolio committee on transport on April 18, Sanral is responsible for 23,536km of SA’s total 618,081km road network.

Despite Sanral being unable to address a major backlog of road maintenance, which is growing steadily, the national government plans to place many of its most neglected roads under Sanral’s authority. The earmarked 15,000km of roads transfers are away from provincial and local governments, whose lack of maintenance has caused rapid and serious deterioration.

For the agency to successfully take over maintenance of these roads while trying to maintain the roads currently under its authority, additional budget allocations need to be granted by the National Treasury. Sanral says it requires a minimum of R15.75bn over a 10-year period to address the backlog and overall condition of the roads while expanding the network — if it cannot rely on the tolling option.

According to Sanral’s own data, almost 80% of the paved network in 2022 is past 25 years old. SA roads are increasingly plagued by potholes, and neglecting maintenance of ageing roads is a serious concern for motorist safety.

A lack of road expansion will result in congestion and limited mobility, translating into serious costs for the economy. With the country’s railway system in disarray and the economy being logistically dependent on the road network, the parastatal seriously needs to consider financing outside the National Treasury.

Over the past 10 years there has been a 19.6% increase in the road network under Sanral’s authority, raising questions over the advisability of moving yet more maintenance responsibility to an entity that is struggling financially.

According to Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse CEO Wayne Duvenage, Treasury allocations equate to at least R12bn a year. The private sector serves as a possible solution to many infrastructural issues facing the country and should be considered, especially in light of corruption and misuse of budgets allocated to maintenance in the public sphere.

Article originally appeared here.

© Centre for Risk Analysis
Terms & Conditions | Privacy Policy
CMS Website by Juizi