Address at the Launch of the Musina - Beit Bridge Weigh Bridge
20 Oct 2010
Limpopo Transport MEC: Ms Pinky Kekana
RTMC: CEO Collins Letsoalo
CBRTA CE Mr Sipho Khumalo
SANRAL CE Nazir Alli
Limpopo Transport HoD: Mr Ntau Letebele
Members from SAPS and the Metro Police
Members of the media
Ladies and gentlemen
Programme director, I must start by appreciating MEC Ms Pinky Kekana and our transport entities CEOs for their efforts to take our Transport Month Campaign from KwaZulu-Natal to the Limpopo province. We launched our Campaign in KwaZulu-Natal at the Bridge City where Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele highlighted the need for South Africa and its neighbouring countries to intensify efforts on the development of transport infrastructure and services.
He stressed the dire need for us to find solutions on our transport infrastructure's missing links across the country and in the region. We proved by the successful hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, when we hosted 3.1 million spectators through an efficient transport infrastructure and systems that an improved infrastructure is a remedy for development.
In preparation to the most exciting global soccer spectacular for 2010, our road, rail and aviation transport infrastructure proved to Africa and the world that sound and improved infrastructure to include energy, telecommunication, stadia and transport can contribute to countries achieving wonderful and memorable events of a life time. Through Transport Month we highlight our loopholes in infrastructure and discuss possible interventions to address challenges.
In the last two weeks we experienced high profile infrastructure conferences. These included the Nepad Transport Conference in Midrand, the Road Conference hosted by the South African Roads Federation in Cape Town and the Roads Indaba in the Eastern Cape. All these platforms are a clear indication of the importance of transport infrastructure in our economies.
Africa's Gateway to the World
The launch of the Beit Bridge Weigh Bridge between South Africa and Zimbabwe signifies yet another milestonein the development of cross-border transport infrastructure. The Beit Bridge Border Post between South Africa and Zimbabwe close to Musina is regarded as one of Africa's gateways to the world. Large volumes of heavy vehicles pass through this post on a daily basis carrying export goods from African countries to the Durban harbour as well as imports from the rest of the world to African countries to the north of South Africa. Due to the large number of foreign vehicles entering the country at this specific location, a traffic control centre to monitor overloading as well as the roadworthiness of vehicles at this point was of strategic importance. Through a control point at this position un-roadworthy and overloaded vehicles would be intercepted before they enter the South African road network where they can cause potential damage to our roads and jeopardize the safety of road users.
The Cross Border Road Traffic Agency (CBRTA) that is responsible for the control of heavy vehicle movements as well as bus and taxi passenger transport over South African borders has a temporary control point located next to the N1 just outside Musina. Through discussions with the CBRTA, it was agreed that the CBRTAs functions and the normal traffic control centre functions can be incorporated into one control centre. The aim of the centre is to inspect all foreign vehicles entering South Africa as well as all South African registered heavy vehicles, busses and taxis entering the country. All heavy vehicles, busses and taxis leaving South Africa will also be inspected. The centre is further designed to be expanded in future to operate as a toll gate with the aim of allowing all heavy vehicles entering the country to pre-pay toll fees at this point.
As an observation for this infrastructure was confirmed by the relevant authorities, construction on the BBTCC started in the second half of 2007 and was completed towards the end of 2009. The centre was constructed at a cost of R65 million and is currently being operated on SANRAL's behalf by the Bakwena Toll Concession Company. The operations in the centre can be divided into three major fields, which are overload control; roadworthiness and CBRTA permit control. CBRTA is responsible for their operations and Bakwena for the rest of the functions with the assistance of the Limpopo provincial traffic inspectorate providing the required law enforcement duties.
Economic spin-offs of the weigh bridge
During the financial year 2009/10, 113 people were employed on the project and training to the value of R300 000 was spend on the development of previously disadvantaged groups and local labour. Six small enterprises and Black Empowerment companies participated in the construction phase of the project during the last financial year and benefited to the value of R15 million in work that was allocated to them. It is foreseen that the operations phase of the project will generate in the order of 200 job opportunities.
The project comprises the upgrade and widening of 12.2 Kilometres of a single carriageway road on National Route 1 Section 29 between Musina and the Beit Bridge Border Post between South Africa and Zimbabwe. This road is located in the Limpopo Province and is one of the strategic links between South Africa and the rest of Africa. The project commences on the northern outskirts of Musina (94.3Km) and terminates at the boundary gates of the Beit Bridge Border Control Point (106.5Km) and crosses a rail line and the Munichshausen River.
The need for the upgrade and widening was identified by SANRAL as part of the N1 Great North toll route. This section of the route is the last 4 sections between Makhado and Beit Bridge that is being upgraded. The existing road is very narrow with unpaved shoulders resulting in extensive damage to the surfaced edges and side swap accidents. The damage and accidents are caused by vehicles when passing each other, either driving off the surfaced road and to avoid each other or passing too close to each other
Trade between South Africa and Zimbabwe
Ladies and gentlemen, South Africa and its neighbours have a duty to make sure that trade between the two countries bear fruits for the two countries. But this can only be achieved through political will, sustainable cross border transport infrastructure and less trading barriers between the two countries.
The Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (Bippa) signed between South Africa and Zimbabwe in November last year to stimulate business initiatives and increase prosperity in both countries was ratified in May this year.
South Africa is one of Zimbabwe's largest trading partners and the latter is negotiating for US$50 million in lines of credit from the former while pursuing the restoration of the R2.65 billion facility made to Zimbabwe for 20 years. Some of South Africa's major mining houses are invested in Zimbabwe, and they include:
- Impala Platinum Mines owning 87 percent of Zimbabwe Platinum Mines
- Implants and Aquarius Mines owning 100 percent of Mimosa Platinum Mines in Zimbabwe with Platinum contributing to Zimbabwe's major exports to South Africa
- Central African Gold and Metallon Gold have indicated interest to invest in Zimbabwe
- DRD Gold, PPC and Nedbank have indicated interest to invest in Zimbabwe.
- Aspen, First National Bank, First Rand and Netcare have also expressed interest to invest in Zimbabwe.
In 2007, Zimbabwe's exports to South grew from just under 20 percent to about 27 percent, making it the country's biggest destination for manufactured goods. In 2006, South Africa replaced Zambia as the country's biggest export destination after exports to Zambia declined 23.2 percent in 2007 from 26.2 percent in 2008. Zimbabwe mainly imports the bulk of its basic commodities from South Africa while Zimbabwe exports mineral and agricultural products.
Ladies and gentlemen the figures I have indicated above can never increase if our transport infrastructure between Harare and Pretoria and other cities in these two Capitals is not maintained in line with increased freight and people movements.
The operational agreement between Zimbabwe and South Africa comes almost after five years of negotiations and focus has now shifted on increasing trade volumes with South Africa to levels of 10 years ago as well as looking at new ways of doing business. The implementation of the agreement will see the two countries engaging on issues relating to investment, trade and economic issues and I want to stress that if our transport infrastructure is not maintained and improved those agreements will not hold water. It is therefore our mandate as government to make sure that what other cluster departments such as International Relations and Trade Industry intend to implement their dreams are met with strong and supporting infrastructure development programmes.
The implementation of the agreement will see the two countries engaging on issues relating to investment, trade and economic issues. In addition, the two countries are also planning to create dialogue and engage the business community in both countries in order to provide an enabling environment for business and complement the Bippa. Co-operation between the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries and Business Unity of South Africa is also expected to increase.
Southern African Development Community (SADC)
Distinguished guests, we need to understand that South Africa cannot celebrate its own achievements without taking into consideration the successes and developments of other regional countries. Today we have travelled from Gauteng to the end of the Limpopo Province bordering South Africa and Zimbabwe because we care about our fellow SADC neighbours. Since attaining democracy in 1994, South Africa has put regional integration by SADC member states on the top of its foreign economic agenda. This approach follows from the belief in the economic benefits that can be brought to all member states by closer economic co-operation in the region. To support this approach, South Africa has reviewed its trade relationship with other SADC members, adopted the SADC Trade Protocol, promoted investment by South African firms in the SADC and helped to facilitate greater volumes of trade by South Africa and other SADC members.
South Africa took over the chair of SADC in August 2008. During the SADC Summit, the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) was lunched. The theme of the SADC FTA is SADC FTA for Growth and Wealth Creation. The FTA provides preferential space towards regional business and its citizens by opening up opportunities for investment through reducing market risk and transaction costs and creating a network of regional businesses interconnection. The FTA is a vital stepping stone towards a SADC Common Market, where the movement of people would be unrestricted and free. Freeing trade in the region will create a larger market, releasing the potential for trade, economic growth and employment creation.
In conclusion ladies and gentlemen, I must stress that safety in all modes of transport, rail, road; aviation and maritime and sustainable infrastructure development are crucial areas that cascade to social and economic development. We can have very impressive transport infrastructure but if our transport safety especially road and rail dose not match with modern trends then we will pay heavily for huge investments in infrastructure but paying lip service to safety on our road and rail transportation system. During and after the 2010 FIFA World Cup, we have been in the news for all good reasons as South Africa and Africa.
Let's not allow road crashes to diminish the positive developments that we have witnessed through recklessness on our roads. Our transport infrastructure is world-class and is admired by the rest of the region but it is only through putting it in good cause that we would yield the best out of it. Let's work together and be masters in development through transport and other related infrastructure.
I thank you.
Source: Department of Correctional Services