The Road Freight Association (RFA) has expressed deep concern at the deteriorating state of South Africa’s roads and the consequences of potholes, poor road surfaces and the general substandard quality of the country’s routes network.
In a statement released this morning, the RFA refers to a recent report by consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, South Africa’s Road Construction Industry – A Regional Look, stressing that what it has unearthed is extremely distressing.
According to the study, more than half (54%) of the country’s unpaved road network is in poor to very poor condition, while about a third (30%) of the paved network is in poor to very poor condition. The internationally accepted norm is that not more than 10% of a road network should be described as ‘poor to very poor’.
The RFA points out that the SA National Roads Agency Ltd (Sanral) is currently responsible for just over 22 000km of paved roads, or 3.6% of the road network, and only 6% can be described as ‘poor to very poor’, mostly as a result of provincial roads having recently been handed over to Sanral to manage.
“The steady and continual downward trend of the condition of our roads needs to be reversed as a matter of urgency. The reasons for this trend have been clearly highlighted in the Frost & Sullivan report – and these need to be corrected,” the RFA says, adding that a well-maintained road network is critical for South Africa.
“Maintenance and development of roads has been a long-festering sore in the eyes of the public – especially with the whole matter around the e-toll Gauteng Freeway Improvement Programme (GFIP),” the association points out.
“Authorities must be held accountable for the roads under their care, for the allocation of funds for roads - which they receive but which are often spent elsewhere for whatever reason - and the use of those funds in the road network.
Roads should be funded by the general fuel levy (GFL), says the association. “If this levy had been applied solely to roads in the manner required many years ago, this would have ensured that periodic maintenance would occur and we would not have such “devastated” roads as we now experience.
“As at April 2021, the GFL was R3.93 per litre, or approximately 23% of the retail price of petrol. It is estimated that the GFL will deliver R86 billion to the treasury to be applied as the minister sees fit.
“The fuel levy should be ring-fenced and allocated to Sanral. This agency can hold various road authorities accountable, whilst also providing expertise, assistance in identifying reliable road contractors, as well as engineering support. The Portfolio Committee on Transport and a public oversight body - similar to the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) but not a state owned entity - should then hold the minister of transport accountable for the state of the roads and ensure that the maintenance, repair and development occur as required.”