The newly appointed MEC for Public Works, Roads and Infrastructure, the Honourable Nandi Ndalane, as the shareholder and executive authority, has reaffirmed the confidence the provincial government has in RAL, under the leadership of the Chairperson of the Board of Directors, Mr Matome Ralebipi and CEO, Mr Maselaganye Matji. In her first address to the Agency’s Annual General Meeting, following her appointment to the position by Premier Chupu Mathabatha in October, MEC Ndalane said she was impressed by the continuously improving state of RAL, considering where the Agency was previously. The Agency held its crucial AGM recently in Mookgopong in Limpopo at the backdrop of the recent report of the Auditor- General, which reflects yet another improved audit for the Agency. The Agency’s annual performance report also shows great strides made regarding job creation, SMMEs empowerment and rural economic development through strategic public-private partnerships and road infrastructure programs.
“I was impressed by the state of health of Roads Agency Limpopo. I am aware that RAL went through a painful period, amongst others being put under administration and many other patches too depressing to detail. That gloomy period is gone, and I hope it will never return,” said Honourable Ndalane.
Notwithstanding RAL’s impressive annual performance results, the MEC strongly encouraged the Agency’s leadership not to rest on its laurels “and be satisfied that we have a good entity.” said Ms Ndalane: “We must move from good to great … I have confidence that we will move from the current unqualified audit to a clean audit. I am, therefore, challenging the Chairperson of the Board, as the CEO and the entire team that it is not enough to be good. We need to strive to become great. RAL needs to be listed amongst the great state-owned company to have ever existed. It is a challenge which I have full confidence that you will achieve.”
Job creation and economic development, through road infrastructure, is central to the Agency’s mandate, through which it strives to boost the Province’s economic growth, reduce poverty and increase social cohesion. The Agency has ring-fenced 30% of its construction costs for SMME development in communities where projects are implemented. In the 2016/17 Financial Year, a total of R164 million, which is an increase from R109 million in the 2015/16, was spent on local SMMEs to boost job creation contractor development. This has resulted in the creation of a staggering 1747 job opportunities, a significant jump from 437 job opportunities in 2015/16. Over R60m was spent on local labour, which is an increase from R20.2m spent in the previous financial year.
The empowerment of youth and women has taken centre-stage in the Agency’s economic developmental programs. A total of 348 local people, 60% of whom are youth and women, were provided with accredited training in the 2016/17 Financial Year, up from 61 the previous year.
As the most rural of the 9 provinces, Limpopo has a backlog of 14,332km of roads that require upgrading from gravel to tar, repairs and maintenance to boost economic activities, which cannot be funded solely through the current allocation from the provincial treasury. In this regard, the Agency has entered into strategic partnerships with private sector partners, through which it co-funds roads Infrastructure in the areas where the private sector companies operate.
Since 2015, over R375 million in strategic partnership agreements have been concluded between RAL, the mining and agricultural sector to either construct new roads or rehabilitate others around those mining communities for the greater public good.
MEC Ndalane says she is also impressed by the strategic partnership financing approach RAL is pursuing in the quest to augment the resources to build roads in the province. “This innovative intervention is indeed what we need in our province.” She encouraged RAL to “strengthen its relationship with the private sector. “I have been made aware that the strategic partnersips are currently running into hundreds of millions of rands and indeed that is very encouraging. Both the oBard and the CEO are encouraged to increase this investment to the benefit of both the private sector and the people of Limpopo.”