Transport MEC tables R6.79 billion budget

STAFF REPORTER

Transport and Public Works MEC Donald Grant has submitted his department’s R6.79 billion budget for 2016/2017, which includes R3.15 billion for transport infrastructure across the province.

Addressing the provincial legislature on Wednesday March 30, he said tough economic circumstances led to a lower than expected increase on the previous budget.

Mr Grant highlighted the planned R487 million upgrade to the N1 from Plattekloof Road to just beyond the Old Oak interchange, which is set to take place over three years (“Road upgrade for N1” Northern News, February 17).

“The N1 is undoubtedly one of the more important roads for this region, and improving travel times and easing congestion remain imperatives. This project, which is expected to be completed in February 2019, will also be used to contribute to the socio-economic objectives of the department,” he said.

According to Mr Grant, R8 million has been set aside for work by qualifying contractors who are part of the emerging contractor development programme.

“In addition, there is a total of R24 million committed to black business enterprises and 29 000 person days set aside for labour sourced from the local area. National Youth Service learners have been employed as part of this project,” he said.

“The construction of street lighting from Bosmansdam Road to the Potsdam Interchange will be completed with the intention of improving the safety of residents in Dunoon. I have also held a series of meetings with the communities in the area to reach agreement on further safety measures,” said Mr Grant. The department has introduced various measures to improve traffic enforcement:

* Deployment of hand-held devices which enable traffic officers to verify information on the spot – a first in the country. It gives officers access to the automatic number plate recognition camera system linked to a database of all driver and vehicle information

* Round-the-clock deployment of officers on routes including sections of the N2, the R61, the R27 and most of the N1.

* Deployment of 35 provincial traffic officers and vehicles with body-worn or dashboard-mounted cameras for live streaming of video footage.

Mr Grant said they were working with other government agencies, such as the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), to reintroduce random breath testing.

The Western Cape, he said, would approach the cabinet to amend its Road Traffic Act, paving the way for regulations to impound vehicles.

“Once the consequential regulations are in place, traffic officers will be able to impound vehicles under a variety of circumstances. This will improve the reach and effectiveness of traffic enforcement agencies in the Western Cape – municipal as well as provincial. We cannot allow serious road traffic offences to go unsanctioned,” he said.

On other legal issues, he said the province was opposing attempts to nationalise provincial traffic forces under one central control.

This had been many years in the making, and was raised at a union meeting in June last year by Transport Minister Dipuo Peters.

“Apart from questioning the constitutionality of this proposed shift, we do not believe that it is in the interests of effective traffic policing,” he said.