SA's growing economy increases demand for transport infrastructure

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Pretoria - South Africa’s growing economy and rising standards of living have resulted in increased demand for road, rail, port, water, electricity and telecommunications infrastructure.

“Our growing economy and rising standards of living have resulted in increased demand for road, rail, port, water, electricity and telecommunications infrastructure.

“Over the past five years, investment in this infrastructure has dramatically increased further,” the President said while releasing the 20 Year Review: South Africa 1994 to 2014 at Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guest House on Tuesday.

The Review depicts the strides the country has made since the dawn of democracy, and also illustrates the challenges that have been faced. 

He said since the mid-2000s, government has placed increasing emphasis on economic infrastructure such as ports, rail, dams and power stations.

Central coordination of infrastructure delivery, through the Presidential Infrastructure Coordination Commission, had improved the pace of delivery, the President said.

“Investments in infrastructure will increase further, including on much needed social infrastructure such as water, electricity, sanitation, schools, colleges and housing amongst others.”

What was inherited in 1994

Up until the mid-1970s, road construction and maintenance was funded through a specific levy on the fuel price. National roads were made up of only 12 000km at the time and were the responsibility of the South African Roads Board (SARB).

Road infrastructure under the democratic government

According to the 20 Year Review, significant improvements have been made to the country’s national roads by the democratic government, since the dawn of democracy.

In 1998, the 7 200km of national roads were absorbed into the newly created South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral). The agency has leveraged private investment into road infrastructure by concessioning and tolling specific road routes.

The Warmbaths toll road was developed in 1994 and in 1996 the largest toll road project was the reconstruction of the N4 corridor linking Johannesburg with Maputo in Mozambique at a cost of R1.4 billion. This was followed by the expansion and tolling of further sections of the N3. The N4 was further extended with the Platinum/Bakwena Toll Road in 2000.

Non-toll roads are funded by the fiscus through annual budget allocations.

Some toll roads are under long term concessions to private parties under public-private partnerships (PPPs) and these include the N4, N3 Toll Concession, N1/N4 Bakwena Platinum Corridor Concessionaire, N4 Trans African Concessions.

In 2003, a number of provinces entered into agreements with Sanral to take over maintenance responsibility of roads which were ultimately declared to be part of the national network.

In 2004, joint planning between the Gauteng province and Sanral accelerated regarding the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project.

By 1998, targeted conditional grants began to supplement provincial funding. The Infrastructure Grant to provinces as well as the Municipal Infrastructure Grant was first introduced in 1999 and was intended to assist provinces and local government in addressing infrastructure backlogs.

There are now approximately 89 000km of paved road and 316 000km of gravel roads under municipal jurisdiction.

South Africa’s approach to municipal roads has evolved over the 20 year period. In the first instance, the municipal sphere itself was in transition from 1994 until 2000, when elections were held under the newly demarcated boundaries which merged previously white and black local authorities.

Other modes of transport

Other modes of public transport gained greater impetus from 2005 through the introduction of the Public Transport Infrastructure and Systems (PTIS) Grant. Between 2005 and 2009, PTIS allocations grew from R241.7 million in 2005/6 to R3 billion in 2009/10.

“The most important transport infrastructure development over the past 20 years relates to the shift in the way policy is developed from a segmented, silo-like approach towards a coherent multi-modal strategic approach,” notes the 20 Year Review.

The grants were targeted at improving public transport infrastructure, with priority being accorded to projects associated with the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

The Gautrain project was also initiated in this period and the full infrastructure became operational in 2012.

A large portion of funding support was allocated to the introduction of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) such as Rea Vaya in Johannesburg within a number of metropolitan municipalities.

ACSA’s investments in airport infrastructure increased modestly in the early 2000s, focussing on the major upgrade of airport facilities mostly on the new King Shaka and OR Tambo International Airports in Durban and Johannesburg respectively.

Following a significant erosion of commuter passenger market share to minibus taxis during the 1980s, the use of Metrorail trains grew steadily from 1993 to 1999, levelling off until 2002 when it again rose significantly.

In 2010, the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) embarked on a 10-year capital investment programme to upgrade the signalling systems on its various Metrorail lines. In 2012, the agency launched its plan to refurbish and replace its current rolling stock.

“Recent analysis has indicated that some of the commuter rail infrastructure, particularly on its busiest corridors of Khayelitsha–Cape Town, Soweto–Johannesburg and Mabopane–Pretoria may not be capable of expansion to optimum levels possible with modern technology. Consequently, Prasa is currently developing a new Passenger Rail Strategic Plan to replace the 2006 Rail Plan,” says the Review.

It said national container freight capacity had increased considerably since 1994.

The more significant recent investments include the new container terminal at Ngqura, commissioned in 2009 with a two-berth capacity of 400 000 containers per annum and the investment in container handling equipment, which is underway with the objective of increasing capacity to 1.5 million containers by 2014.

Transnet’s infrastructure investment programme developed momentum from 2005 onwards. The targeted capacity increase of the iron ore line from 22mt in 2003 to 41mt in 2010 was achieved in 2008 and Transnet entered into further capacity expansion agreements with iron ore exporters raising capacity to 52mt in 2012.

By 2012, 50 new electromotive diesel (EMD) locomotives had been delivered for general freight business, with a further 95 on order. Ninety locomotives had been delivered for the coal line and 44 locomotives delivered for the iron ore line, with 32 on order.

In 2012, Transnet Freight Rail announced new targets between 2013 and 2019, together with a capital budget of R201 billion.

Improved Policy

The 1996, White Paper on National Transport Policy was further developed in 1999, with a 20-year horizon strategy outlined in the Moving South Africa document.

In 2000, the Department of Public Enterprises issued the policy framework for an accelerated agenda for the restructuring of state-owned enterprises, which pointed out that a new ports policy and a ports regulatory framework to be enacted, in which Portnet is to be corporatised into two components, a port authority entity and a port operations entity.


In 2002, the National Commercial Ports Policy White Paper was gazetted, outlining government’s intention to confer on a National Ports Authority, the management and administration responsibility of all commercial ports.

The designated authority was to be Transnet’s Portnet division, which was to be separated from Transnet’s port operations activities.

The policy outlined the establishment of the National Ports Authority; establishment of the Independent Port Regulator; separation of the port authority and port operations functions; and promoting low cost, high level of service, and shipper choice in the port operations by creating a competitive environment in the commercial ports system. -

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