South Africa: The need for effective management of road funds


by Tobie Ueckermann

Government has indicated that vastly increased funding is to be made available for the development of needed infrastructure, including roads. Roads are a significant contributor to social and economic development, and it has been suggested that after education, good roads are the most important catalyst for development in any country.

For this, and other reasons, it is essential that road funds be effectively used towards the furthering of the governments social and economic goals, and particularly the recently published National Development Plan.

Apart from the obvious need to root out corruption, the South African Road Federation suggests that the increase in effectiveness required in putting road funds to their best use includes the following requirements:

• Ability to efficiently implement road programmes – there is unfortunately much evidence, from statements by political office bearers from the State President downwards as well as academic research that this facet needs improvement.
• A lean and effective institutional arrangement for the provision of the road network. The provincial surfaced road network in South Africa of some 50 000km in extent is managed by nine provinces, in comparison with the State of Texas in the USA where a single road authority manages a larger network.
• Capacity development in our provincial road authorities to increase markedly the number of professional road engineers.
• Matching road network improvements to the country’s real social and economic needs and not for political gain.
• Ensuring that good and appropriate road designs are carried out by competent engineers. The expression “penny wise, pound foolish” comes to mind here, that is not spending enough on design to ensure quality designs and then having to pay larger amounts in order to deal or correct problems during construction.
• Priority to be given to maintaining the existing network. It is a known fact that delaying needed road maintenance costs can increase future costs by up to seven times the original cost.
• New road projects to be only embarked upon after a thorough economic analysis has been carried out to determine their need. Political involvement in setting the road programme should be resisted.
• Consideration of operational improvements to existing roads towards addressing congestion before new projects is embarked upon.
• Consideration of more effective and efficient road programme delivery mechanisms.
• Ensuring sustainability of the network in the long term, including the ability to maintain it and including designing for minimum maintenance.
• The protection of ecosystems in road location, design and construction.
• The innovative use of “waste aggregates.” That is recycling materials and the implementation of “green roads” principles.

Government needs to seriously give consideration to the above and other facets to ensure that its funds are well spent.

Basil Jonsson
Operations Director
South African Road Federation
Tel No. 011 394 5634
Cell No. 0824426901
Fax No.011 394 7934
Fax2email 086 576 7952
Web site:


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