Mpumalanga puts service delivery at heart of agenda

Friday, February 22, 2019

The Mpumalanga provincial government will in the 2019/20 financial year prioritise the provision of basic services as it accelerates efforts to improve the lives of its citizens.

Premier Refilwe Mtshweni on Friday delivered her maiden State of the Province Address (SOPA), where she said her government had taken a conscious decision for the provision of water, sanitation, electricity and roads to take precedence over other priorities.

“The focus was on areas that had been neglected in the past, including but not limited to, Bushbuckridge,” she said.

The province has, however, over the years made significant inroads in providing the services.

“Today, over 85% of households in our province have access to water, leaving us with a backlog of just under 15%. We have successfully implemented 23 high impact bulk water supply projects, which have benefitted more than 158 959 households at a cost of more than R239 million,” Mtshweni said.

The province has in addition completed and delivered 29 water reticulation projects at a cost of R237 million.

“We expect 38 bulk and 39 reticulation infrastructure from MIG [Municipal Infrastructure Grant] currently under construction and seven implemented from RBIG [Regional Bulk Infrastructure Grant] to be soon completed,” Mtshweni said.

In an effort to fast track the delivery of basic services, the province has completed a series of much needed projects. Among these, Mtshweni said, is the rehabilitation of water infrastructure in 30 villages in Bushbuckridge.

The installation of 18 steel tank reservoirs in Mbombela (15) and Bushbuckridge (three) is another key project that has been completed.

The government of Mpumalanga also collaborated with Glencoe Mine to build the Phola Water Pipeline in Emalahleni Local Municipality. It has also completed the Siyanqoba Water and Sewer Pipeline, also in Emalahleni.

“All these achievements happened despite the trying economic turbulences and setbacks that we have encountered. As government, we have always maintained an open door policy for the private sector to hold hands with us and build a strong economy that creates jobs.

“We will continue to engage our private sector partners with a view of forming strong partnerships and creating an enabling environment that will allow big and small business to flourish,” Mtshweni said.

Job creation

The Premier expressed concern at the province’s rate of youth unemployment, which stands at 43.5%.

“[This] calls for more innovative and collaborative partnership with the social sector and the private sector to craft a strategy that will be more responsive to skills development, unemployment and economic growth,” she said.

The provincial unemployment rate increased from 26.6% in 2014 to 32% in 2018.

“The expanded unemployment rate, which includes discouraged workers, who have stopped looking for work, was 41.1% at the end of 2018 and the total number of unemployed people, according to the expanded definition, was 868 809.

“Despite the current unemployment challenges, it is imperative to note that from 2014, we have recorded a net job creation of 107 350 between 2014 and 2018. This is an average of 26 837 jobs per annum, achieving almost 40% of the provincial job creation target,” said the Premier.

Strategic Infrastructure Development

Mtshweni said her government would in the upcoming financial year continue to implement the Mpumalanga Vision 2030, which provides a provincial expression of the key priorities, objectives and targets enumerated in the NDP.

“Through our provincial Department of Public Works, Roads and Transport (DPWRT) that acts as our implementing agent for infrastructural projects, the province has made significant progress towards the provision of an efficient, competitive and responsive economic infrastructure network,” she said.

During the 2018/19 financial year, the province saw construction of six boarding schools, 47 ordinary schools and two new special schools.

“Our continuous improvement against the national benchmark shows that there is an indelible link between the construction of educational infrastructure and the subsequent improvement in the quality of education.

“Most notably, the province undertook the eradication of basic services and sanitation backlog in 225 schools. In this regard, we are proud to report that 402 basic services and sanitation projects in these schools were completed,” the Premier said.

She said the province would continue to address the backlog of pit latrines sanitation in government schools. –