[Johannesburg, 20 March 2015]
The improvement of education and accelerated development of scarce and critical skills are urgently needed for South Africa to achieve radical economic transformation and growth. These were the words of SANRAL CEO Nazir Alli, when delivered a public lecture at the University of Limpopo on Wednesday, 18 March 2015, in Polokwane.
Alli visited the university as part of SANRAL’s campaign to highlight the importance of education in the country’s economic transformation and accelerated development of scarce and critical skills, which are urgently needed for the successful implementation of South Africa’s National Development Plan. The campaign also involves raising awareness about SANRAL and its mandate.
He outlined some of the programmes initiated by SANRAL to address the issue of education and skills development, such as awarding of bursaries and scholarships to deserving students all over the country to further their studies at institutions of higher learning.
Other projects include SANRAL’s support of two chairs which focus on transport matters – at the University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch. SANRAL also sponsors a chair in mathematics, science and technology education at the University of the Free State, and was working closely with the university and the Nelson Mandela Bay University to help high school learners improve their understanding of maths and science. He said SANRAL would also investigate how to partner with the University of Limpopo to accelerate skills development in the country.
“We believe that this contribution assists us in fully supporting the government’s drive to increase economic growth through infrastructural development, and through that, address the problems of unemployment, poverty, inequality and the other social ills facing the country,” Alli said. He therefore encouraged students to take their education seriously, as it will assist them to improve their lives, but more importantly, also help to alleviate the rampant poverty that the country is facing.
Alli also used the opportunity to educate the students about the role of SANRAL in infrastructure development in the country, and in the province of Limpopo in particular. He mentioned that SANRAL is a state-owned agency that was established to operate South Africa’s national road network, and that the agency is responsible for strategic planning of the country’s national road system, including financing, planning, designing, constructing, provisioning, operating and maintaining national roads, which are rightfully called South Africa’s “economic arteries”.
He highlighted that South Africa has an extensive road network of about 750 000km, the 10th longest network in the world, and that the agency is currently managing a national road network of about 21 403km, of which 85% are non-tolled and only 15% are tolled. Roads that are under the SANRAL network are generally in excellent conditions; this is made possible by the agency’s technical know-how and expertise. By constructing and maintaining roads of world-class standard, SANRAL was therefore helping the government to implement the NDP, he said.
He said SANRAL regarded Limpopo as the country’s gateway into Africa, and was therefore investing huge amounts of money to improve the province’s road network. Some of the planned and current projects for Limpopo included:
* The upgrading of the N1 ring road around Polokwane in 2015, at a cost of R700 million;
* The construction of the Musina ring road in 2015, at a cost of R450 million;
* The R460 million construction of the Mokopane Northern ring road in 2016, to cost the agency R460 million; and
* The upgrading of R71 to Moria City, at a cost of R130 million.
He emphasised that these projects were going to bring tremendous economic benefits to the province, as well as create employment opportunities.
Finally, Alli paid tribute to the university for having played a role in the struggle against the injustices of the past, and for having produced prominent alumni such as Onkgopotse Tiro; Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa; Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters; and the late Minister of Public Service and Administration Collins Chabane. He urged the students to carry forward with this legacy.