SA infrastructure build on track: Zuma

4 July 2013

South Africa is a thriving building site, with about 1 132 active construction sites creating employment for about 178 000 people on projects monitored by the Presidential Infrastructure Co-ordinating Commission (PICC).

The commission held a meeting in Pretoria on Wednesday, where progress on these projects – with a value of R750-billion – and other infrastructure development matters were thrashed out.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, President Jacob Zuma said he was happy with the development progress of the country.

“The meeting took longer because of the volume of the matters on the agenda, such as the progress report on infrastructure build. We had lots of discussions and we are certain that we are making progress,” he said.

The PICC brings together representatives of the three spheres of government, Cabinet ministers, premiers, metro mayors and the South African Local Government Association representatives to harmonise developments in the National Infrastructure Plan.

The meeting examined the successes and challenges in the roll-out of the 18 Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPs), which currently make up the country’s multi- billion rand National Infrastructure Plan.

‘National, collective point of view’

The plan looks to transform the economic landscape, while simultaneously creating a significant number of new jobs and straightening service delivery.

The SIPs cover various projects of economic and social infrastructure projects such as schools, hospitals and new power stations.

“The important thing about the [PICC] is that it puts together all tiers of government to discuss issues from a national, collective point of view,” said Zuma.

Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel – chair of the PICC – said the commission currently tracks almost half of the state’s capital spending and the whole of government infrastructure spending.

Patel said during the term of the current administration, which ends next year, the country was on course to reach spending of R1-trillion on infrastructure projects.

He also said the state was spending about twice as much on infrastructure now than it did five years ago and attributed the increase in infrastructure expenditure to projects such as the 2010 Fifa World Cup and associated projects.

New building technologies and innovative building, which could reduce construction costs, are being evaluated by the government, he said

The increase in infrastructure spending was also due to construction cartels which have pushed up the cost of building, Patel said.

The PICC meeting discussed the investigation showing evidence of pervasive price fixing, collusion and corruption in the private construction industry, following the Competition Commission reaching a settlement with 15 construction firms, who agreed to pay fines to the tune of R1.46-billion for collusive tendering on 24 June.

Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti said the infrastructure build gave government a stronger grip on developing the economy.