‘Significant progress’ on infrastructure – Zuma

2012-03-21 03:32
Sabelo Ndlangisa
The presidential infrastructure coordination commission has made “significant progress” since President Jacob Zuma unveiled the multi-billion rand public infrastructure development programme in his state of the nation address last month.

Speaking at the Walter Sisulu Square in Soweto during the official Human Rights Day celebrations today, Zuma said the government’s infrastructure development programme was at the heart of its plans to improve the quality of life of citizens in the next decade.

At the time, Zuma announced five major projects that the commission would undertake this year.

These include:
» plans to develop and integrate rail, road and water infrastructure in the eastern and the western parts of Limpopo;

» to expand rail to transport coal in Mpumalanga to ease the burden on the provincial roads;
» a plan to connect and integrate the Gauteng-Free State-Durban logistics and industrial corridor;

» the development of a major node that will improve industrial and agricultural development and the export capacity of the Eastern Cape;

» the roll-out of water rail, roads and electricity infrastructure in the North West; expansion of the iron-ore rail line between Sishen in the Northern Cape and Saldanha Bay in the Western Cape so that the capacity to transport the minerals could go up to 100 million tons per year.

Today, Zuma announced that the commission had developed an implementation framework for the delivery of each of these “strategic integrated projects”.

“Our infrastructure plan is about tackling decades of under-development and to respond to the basic needs of all our people.

“The infrastructure plan is about providing housing, sanitation, public transport and running water in the urban areas for millions of South Africans who are urban residents.

“Infrastructure for development is also about connecting rural communities to economic opportunities through building dams and irrigation systems.

It will connect farms and villages to the energy grid and build schools and clinics in rural areas,” Zuma said.

He said moves were afoot to develop a skills plan to go with the projects, spelling out the number of engineers, technicians, technologists and artisans the economy needed.

Zuma said government needed to work smartly in the implementation of projects, saying he would take that message to a conference of ministers, premiers and mayors where the infrastructure plan will come under the spotlight.

He also lauded the work of the government in giving effect to the social and economic rights enshrined in the Constitution over the past few years. He cited the delivery of 2.8 million low-cost houses and the provision of piped water to 87% of the country’s rural population as examples of giving meaning to the Constitution.

Azanian People’s Organisation (Azapo) leader Jake Dikobo expressed concern about the use of violence and the malicious damaging of property during community protests.