Media release

Infrastructure Development Cluster media briefing

18 August 2011

18 August 2011

Minister of Transport, Sibusiso Ndebele

A very good morning to you all, and welcome to this media briefing on the Infrastructure Development Cluster (IDC).

The work of the IDC emanates from Outcome 6: An Efficient, Competitive and Responsive Economic Infrastructure Network.

The mid-year Cabinet Lekgotla from 26-28 July 2011 focused on two priorities – service delivery and job creation. On service delivery, it was emphasized that the extension of water, sanitation, electricity, roads and other basic needs were urgent. Lekgotla further emphasized that whatever blockages existed to delivery must be attended to without delay by all spheres of government.

Infrastructure Commission

Given the centrality of infrastructure development, Cabinet resolved to elevate the management of this priority to the Presidency by establishing an Infrastructure Commission to be chaired by the President, supported by national, provincial and local government. The Infrastructure Commission will ensure systematic selection, planning and monitoring of large projects. This intervention will systematically improve the capacity of state agencies to deliver infrastructure and help connect the work of all spheres of government. The Job Creation Commission is chaired by the Deputy President.

Ensuring reliable generation, distribution and transmission of energy

  • A total of 11 176 solar home systems have been installed from March to April 2011. Municipalities will only start connections later this year, as their current financial year has just started.
  • The Inclining Block Tariffs (IBT), which provides for preferential tariffs for the indigent, has been incorporated into the NERSA tariff determination for 2010/12, and consultations are underway.
  • The Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) will be expanding its Build Programme monitoring approaches, not only to ensure that projects are on schedule and budget, but also to conduct forecasts to anticipate risks and ensure mitigation measures are implemented in advance. The DPE and national Treasury have put together a joint team to work with Eskom.
  • The Integrated Resource Plan was approved by Cabinet in March 2011. Various aspects of the Plan are being implemented (including co-generation as well as the renewable energy procurement programme). Other aspects such as nuclear will be presented to Cabinet for consideration in the coming months.
  • Five contracts signed with Independent Power Producers (IPPs), adding 373MW of electricity to the national grid, as part of the initiative to supplement Eskom’s electricity generation capacity.
  • Following the decision on the Electricity Distribution Industry, a process will be set in motion to develop a funding model for distribution infrastructure in collaboration with municipalities, NERSA, national Treasury and development financial institutions.

The maintenance and strategic expansion of the road and rail network, and the operational efficiency, capacity and competitiveness of sea ports

  • The Department of Transport (DoT) and national Treasury are engaging on a Rural Public Transport Grant, to facilitate rural transport infrastructure and operations improvements into the future. Such a grant should be a long-term commitment to the Public Transport Strategy and Rural Transport Strategy.
  • With regard to the improvement of strategic roads and implementation of the Road Infrastructure Strategic Framework of South Africa (RISFSA), national Treasury and DoT have rolled out the Provincial Road Maintenance Grant (PRMG) to the value of more than R22-bn as of 1 April 2011 over the MTEF, through the S’hamba Sonke Road Maintenance Programme. Of the R6,4-bn allocated for this financial year, 66 000 job opportunities are expected to be created.
  • Work is continuing with provinces and municipalities to reclassify their road networks, coordinated by the Roads Coordinating Body. A draft policy framework for the Road Asset Management System is also being developed with the assistance of the Development Bank of South Africa.
  • Phase A1 of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP): Cabinet approved reduced toll tariffs on 10 August 2011 with qualifying commuter taxis and commuter buses being exempted. The user-pay principle is accepted throughout the world, but the only area people are willingly prepared to pay is in the telecommunications sector. In the areas of electricity, water and transport which improve their lives, such willingness is lacking.
  • After years of under-spending, Government is now making steady progress towards ensuring that rail is the backbone of South Africa’s public transport system.
  • The next phase of the Gautrain from Johannesburg to Tshwane opened for commercial service on 2 August 2011. Since the commencement of operations of the airport link in June 2010, approximately three million passengers have used the Gautrain on this link.
  • Yesterday (17 August), eight people were arrested while stealing copper cable from the ERPM mine in Boksburg. We are in discussions with the Departments of Police and Justice to intensify the fight against cable theft, which is sabotage. This market must be closed. This also affects other Departments including Energy and Water.
  • As of 1 April 2011, Government is spending R30.2-bn over the next three years for rail upgrades across the country, with R19.5-bn earmarked for capital spending to upgrade existing infrastructure, signaling systems and rolling stock.
  • The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) is embarking on a bold programme to invest in new rail rolling stock, worth an estimated R100-bn over a period of 18 years, for Metrorail. This will significantly improve the country's commuter rail transport.
  • EThekwini is about to complete its full IRPTN operational plan, which includes both a road and rail component. Rustenburg has finalized operational planning, and officially launched the Rustenburg Rapid Transport Project on 21 July. Both Tshwane and Polokwane are reviewing their operational plans.
  • Increasing the Market Share of Total Freight to Rail to an annualized 250mt from the current 177mt: there is a 1.43% increase in rail volumes compared to baseline. The Transnet programmatic procurement has been completed, and an estimated 80-120 locomotives will be procured over the next 20 years.
  • Introduction of private operators in branch lines: three pilot branch lines have been identified (Belmont-Douglas, Nkwalini-Empangeni and Bethlehem-Kroonstad). The process to have three operators by the end of 2011/12 is on track.
  • The Transnet Build Programme: the widening and deepening of Durban harbour entrance has been completed. Four (4) new ships have been delivered to shore cranes at Cape Town Container Terminal, and five (5) fully functional berths are now operational at Ngqura. Overall, Transnet has spent 92% of the budget allocated to the Capex programme.
  • Improvement of productivity at the Durban Container Terminal: 26 crane moves per hour have been recorded and plans to reach the target of 35 in 2015 are on track.
  • Two major border posts (land ports of entry) at Vioolsdrif (Namibia) and the Golela Border Post (Swaziland) have been upgraded, and currently operational on a 24-hour basis, facilitating commerce and passenger mobility in the SADC region.

Ensuring maintenance and supply of water

  • New Water Augmentation schemes: De Hoop Dam, Vaal River Eastern Sub-System Augmentation, Mooi-Mgeni Transfer Scheme, Komati Water Scheme Augmentation, Mokolo and Crocodile River (West), raising of Hazelmere Dam and Clan William Dam are on track.
  • Development of 60 New Regional Bulk Water Infrastructure systems: four Water Treatment Works, four water supply schemes and three waste water treatment works have been completed. The rest of the projects are progressing as planned.
  • Maintenance of existing water resources infrastructure: rehabilitation of nine national dams and two conveyance projects are complete.
  • Removal of backlogs in the issuing of water licences: 2 506 water licences have been processed and concluded. The Department of Water Affairs (DWA) is in the process of developing an on-line system to fast track the process. Most delays are caused by insufficient information from clients, which make it difficult to finalize applications on time.
  • Revision of the Water pricing strategy: expected to proceed as per the time frames of the project.
  • The signing of the second phase of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project will ensure continued and sustained water supply to the country. This will ensure development of the economy and supply to our people. Included will be the development of infrastructure and a hydro-electric power project to benefit the people of both countries.

Information and Communication Technology

  • Digital Terrestrial Television rollout: 60% coverage has been achieved with digital video broadcasting (DVBT) standard. For the new standard of DVBT-2 (version 2), which was adopted by Cabinet in December 2010, the plan is to upgrade and rollout 75% coverage by 2012.
  • Broadband penetration: consultation process on the Broadband Implementation Plan is currently being embarked upon among the Broadband Intergovernmental Implementation Committee. The Broadband Initiatives Project Register has been initiated, and the broadband penetration coverage and usage audit is being fast tracked. The site surveys in three districts in KwaZulu-Natal have been completed.
  • Implementation of e-connectivity for schools: MoUs and User Requirement Specifications have been completed. The first phase of connecting the 125 Dinaledi schools and District schools (1 525 schools) have commenced.
  • The Local Loop Unbundling discussion document has been published by the Independent Communication Authority of South Africa (ICASA) for public submissions.

Nikelwa Tengimfene
082 574 5495

Issued by Government Communications (GCIS)

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