Gauteng Premier David Makhura today laid out an ambitious agenda for Gauteng’s economic and spatial development, but without any clear implementation timelines and deadlines.
While the premier rightly emphasised the need to grow the province’s economy, he did so while paying scant attention to the elephant in the room: E-tolls and their continued implementation.
In fact, the premier only further delayed the inevitable decision that tolls will continue in some form or another and will not be scrapped.
Economic growth can only take place in an environment of uncurtailed movement of people, goods and services, despite the premier’s misconception that Gauteng’s people are in favour of the user-pays system.
As long as highways are tolled or road users forced to pay for freeway improvement through one stealth tax or another, the economy will be stifled, and the premier’s ambitious plans will not materialise.
It is also concerning how little attention was paid to the development and improvement of the province’s roads infrastructure. The province’s roads are already congested and it will only become worse as long our roads infrastructure does not enjoy priority.
So too is the insufficient attention on the province’s public transportation network. Improved productivity requires people to get to work using safe, reliable and affordable public transport. The premier only made reference to plans for expanding existing bus, rail and Gautrain networks, once again without implementation timelines.
While the DA acknowledges the need to negate the effects of apartheid spatial planning, the premier needed to be more clear about the establishment of mega-cities and their implementation plans.
The premier does himself no favour by re-announcing flagship projects that had been in the pipeline for years, such as Tshwane Convention Centre, the Aerotropolis and the African Gateway, as well as the construction of 680 000 housing units, when his government can only build 30 000 housing units per year.
The same applies to the crisis in municipalities across the province. Little or no effort is being made to tackle the massive service delivery backlogs and financial irregularities, while communities take to the streets almost every day to give rise to their frustrations.
In the meantime, the premier’s service delivery war room is yet to become operational, almost a year after being announced in 2014. Local government is the first point of contact the people have with government, and the premier needs to bring his activist government principles to our communities if he wants his administration to enjoy any success.
The state of Gauteng will be no better in the medium term so long as Premier Makhura, and his administration pay little attention to every aspect of economic growth and job creation across the province.
John Moodey MPL
DA Gauteng Provincial Leader
082 960 3743