I listened attentively to Premier Makhura’s address on Monday and must agree that many of the ideals outlined by him are what we would all dream of for our beloved country.
However, having heard the same promises made by his predecessor, Premier Mokonyana, every year for 5 years without much output at the end of her term, I realised that this Premier whom I hoped would really deliver, must either be extremely badly informed by his aides or be the new king of empty promises.
We must never forget, educationally speaking, that although Gauteng may be the best performer in South Africa, the output of state schools in our country has been so dumbed-down that we are at the bottom of the ranking for all the countries in the world in maths and only a couple from the bottom in general education.
The grand plans announcing the intention to spend billions of rand on infrastructure improvement must be seen against the background of a declining economy, lowered international credit rating and an extremely limited or non-existent ability to borrow on world markets. South Africa is, in fact depressing the economic performance of the rest of Africa.
We exist in a country where corruption is now so rife that companies build bribes into their budgets in order to continue functioning.
The Premier spoke often of his reliance on the private sector to realise his dreams but it is his party’s business unfriendly policy that ties businesses up in unnecessary red tape and commits especially SMMEs to unaffordable salary increases without increased productivity. It is his party’s policy that forces well run businesses to rather install robots on assembly lines than give desperately needed jobs to our people because robots never demand huge increases and never embark on wildcat strikes.
On transport matters he spoke of the O R Tambo aerotropolis as a saviour for the Ekurhuleni economy but the land around the airport is already too expensive for this scheme to ever succeed.
He lauded the bus rapid transit undertakings in the three metros but one has not got off the ground, one is presently moribund because of a strike and the third is mired in controversy and allegations of corruption and graft.
Our driver licensing testing stations, road worthy centres and TOLABS are all hot-beds of corruption which the GDRT is unable or unwilling to eradicate and our traffic police seem only able to man speed traps (but only, when the weather is good) and also to solicit bribes and gridlock the cities by amateurish point duty such as happened on Monday.
The grass on our road verges and medians go uncut and the added lack of lighting on many provincial roads has caused several crashes.
Taxis regularly swing across several lanes of traffic, drive on the wrong side of the road, clog up emergency lanes, ignore traffic signs and block intersections but are rarely fined because our police are too scared to act against them. Our trucks crawl up steep gradients in the fast lanes and often travel at speeds exceeding 115kph on the down-hills but as speed traps are set at 125 kph they are seldom stopped for speeding. A truck at 115 kmh is infinitely more dangerous than a car exceeding the speed-limit by a similar 35 kph as proven by the N12 crash last year.
The Premier promised the consultative forum following the advisory panel feedback, that he would respond to the outright rejection by the public of both e-tolls and the proposed hybrid model by month end.
If the ambiguous report in his address is supposed to clarify matters it has failed. One must again ask the question why Sanral, the National Department of Roads and Transport and the ANC outside of Gauteng are hell-bent on using the expensive gantries.?
There remain many unexplained clauses in the contract between Sanral and ETC and KAPSH which defy logic. Who exactly is being enriched by the e-toll system?
Is the government determined to clog our courts with e-toll infringers while the many real criminals in detention wait to come to trial? The Premier should conduct a referendum on the public attitude to e-tolls and then stnd by the wishes of Gauteng citizens by rejecting the e-tolls unconditionally.
Our existing infrastructure has, on the admission of the ANC, been woefully neglected for decades. While our existing assets crumble and fail, the Premier is putting forward expensive and unrealistic new major projects.
It is time for the ANC to fully identify what assets it has and their state of repair or disrepair. It should carefully work out a cost sustainable maintenance routine and then carefully identify those new projects that have a reasonable chance of coming to fruition on time and on budget and concentrate on those.
It cannot do everything at once and prioritisation and pragmatism are required. To this end we need to be circumspect about extensions to the Gautrain. The train already costs R1.5 billion annually in subsidies and these are budgeted to increase to R1.8 billion in the next two yers. Furthermore the fares on Gautrain are deliberately set above Prasa’s fares and do not transport the real workers in Gauteng.
South Africa does not have the ability to offer free housing, free healthcare, free education and social grants to almost a third of our population on a sustainable basis.
Let us not be “jacks of all things” but rather, masters of those things that make the most impact.
I thank you madam Speaker
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