His Excellency, President Jacob Zuma,at the occasion of the opening of the Botlokwa bridges on the N1 freeway in Limpopo

President Jacob Zuma

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The Premier of the Limpopo Province, Mr. Chupu Mathabatha,
The Minister of Transport, Mr Joe Maswanganyi,
The Speaker of the Limpopo Provincial Legislature, Ms Polly Boshielo
MECs present
His Majesty Kgosikgolo Mphephu Ramabulana
Regent Queen Mpampatla Modjadji
The Chairperson of the Provincial House of Traditional Leaders, Kgoshi Malesela Dikgale,
The Traditional Leadership, Kgoshi Machaka, Kgoshi Makgato, Kgoshi Ramokgopa,
The Provincial Chairperson of SALGA,
Faith Based leaders,
People of Limpopo,

Dumelang, Xewani , Ndimasiari, Good day!

We are happy to join you today on this important occasion aimed at improving the lives of our people.

Today’s opening of three bridges across the N1 freeway takes place during a significant month – the birth month of one of the most outstanding leaders that this country has ever produced, Comrade Oliver Reginald Tambo.

Our government declared 2017 the year in which we commemorate the centenary of the birth of Oliver Tambo. October being the month in which he was born, is a culmination of our celebration of his life and legacy.

An internationalist par excellence, he was known, respected and honoured all over the world for his visionary leadership of our liberation struggle and for inspiring our democratic transition.

We draw inspiration from him as we continue to soldier on in our task of improving the lives of our people, working with them.

The bridges that we are officially opening today are a visible example of Government’s commitment to deliver strategic infrastructure that will transform our economy, create jobs and stimulate opportunities for growth.

But, with these bridges and the reopening of a vital section of our national road, we go beyond the mere provision of transport infrastructure.

This project demonstrates the fact that government responds to the needs expressed by communities and the priorities they identify.

It also demonstrates how all three spheres of government, state-owned companies and traditional authorities can work together to solve issues that might place obstacles in the way of communities who want to grow and progress.

This project is a response to the concerns of the public, the people who live in close proximity to the N1, as it passes through this part of Limpopo, just to the north of Polokwane.

Local residents and a number of traditional councils representing the Machaka, Makgato and Ramokgopa authorities raised their concerns about safety and accessibility up with local and provincial representatives.

They complained about the safety of road users. They said that one of the busiest long-distance freeways in Africa cut straight through a community and children who walked to school.

They added that families who wanted to visit shops and citizens who seek to access government services were forced to cross the road, often under dangerous conditions.

Both the Molemole Local municipality and the Capricorn district have identified roads as key elements of their broader integrated development strategies.

They appreciate the fact that roads improve the mobility of people and facilitate the effective movement of goods and services.

SANRAL as an agency of the National Department of Transport has the mandate to design, build and maintain our country’s primary road network.

Currently SANRAL is responsible for some twenty-two thousand kilometres of roads, including the N1, which bisects South Africa from the Musina Border Post in the north to the southernmost tip of the continent.

In the National Development Plan, we highlight the importance of our roads network which is regarded as our single most important and widely-used public asset.

Such roads are planned years in advance to meet the projected need for strategic economic infrastructure; they are constructed according to globally accepted standards of design and engineering.

Once they have been built they have to be maintained to unlock their true economic value for the country.

SANRAL’s response to the issues relating to safety and accessibility on this stretch of road was to come up with original and innovative solutions.

A diversion of the road would not have provided a long-term solution but the alternatives were to construct a main vehicle bridge and build two pedestrian bridges at both ends of the village.

Following the recent completion of the construction work, the traffic flow has returned to normal. Importantly, local residents – and especially pedestrians – have now been given safe access to activities and opportunities on both sides of the road.

We are thus happy to unveil modern new infrastructure that conforms to the highest standards of safety and mobility.

This is a multi-million rand investment in this part of Limpopo and will greatly contribute to the future developmental trajectory
of the region.

I wish to appeal to the community to work with us to protect such infrastructure and property.

These new bridges have already been targeted by vandals who damaged some of the panels that regulate the flow of storm water and stole some of the handrails.

We are at the start of the rainy season in this part of southern Africa and we are only too familiar with the destructive power of water.

Last week we again saw the impact of heavy downpours on the communities in the Capricorn, Mopani and Vhembe districts. This destruction is aggravated when the infrastructure that is designed to cope with the excess water has been stolen or damaged.

My call on this community is to protect and safeguard the vital infrastructure because it belongs to you.

I urge you to work with the South African Police Service, with local government and with agencies such as SANRAL to look after and care for this infrastructure and to report to the authorities incidents of vandalism and theft.

This N1 road also plays a vital role in government’s broader objectives to transform the economy and accelerate growth and opportunities for all.

From where we are today the road leads northwards towards the border with Zimbabwe and then into the broader southern African region.

Earlier this month we hosted a meeting of the Bi-National Commission between South Africa and Zimbabwe, where transport and mobility were among the dominant themes.

One of priorities that will receive dedicated attention from both our governments is the establishment of a one-stop border post at Beit Bridge – a step that will, inevitably, also raise awareness about the N1 as a strategic regional artery.

The government has launched the Trans-Limpopo Spatial Development Initiative, which forms part of broader plans to unlock investment and economic growth.

At the core of this approach is our belief that the future of our country is dependent on well-planned and well-maintained infrastructure.

In this part of the country the focus is on the growth of opportunities in the mineral and mining sectors, the beneficiation of our unique natural resources, light industrial manufacturing, agriculture and agro-processing.

In the past 18 months we have started to implement the Special Economic Zone programme which includes the designation of such a zone in the Musina/Makhado area, close to our northern border and right next to this freeway.

The benefits of this initiative will spread wider into the region including to the Capricorn district and to the people living in Botlokwa, in Dendron, in Ga-Ramokgopa, in Sekgosese, Bochum, Manthata and the other towns, villages and settlements in Limpopo.

We are re-opening this road and unveiling these bridges during Transport Month, which is this year being marked under the theme of “Together we Move South Africa Forward.”

During the month of October, we want to draw attention to the impact that transport and infrastructure can have on job creation, on local economic development and on career choices for our young people.

Our focus this month goes beyond motorised transport but also includes the safety of pedestrians and cyclists – especially in communities such as this who will enjoy greater mobility and safer journeys thanks to the bridges that we are opening today.

In conclusion, I want to return to the subject of O.R.

O.R. Tambo started his career as a science and mathematics teacher before moving into law, and later into politics.

This should serve as an inspiration for young people across South Africa – and especially in this district – to consider science, mathematics, engineering and technology as subjects of choice that will enable them to build the infrastructure, the roads, the drainage systems and the bridges of the future.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Fellow South Africans,

It is my honour and privilege to declare the Botlokwa Bridges officially open!

I thank you.

 

Issued by The Presidency

Pretoria 

www.thepresidency.gov.za