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Johannesburg - Half the roads that Joburg’s motorists drive on are classified as being in a poor or very poor condition.
Just five years ago, explained Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA) managing director Skhumbuzo Macozoma, the number of poor roads stood at 20 percent.
What happened was the rapid deterioration of our roads due to a lack of funding and maintenance, and poor performance.
But Macozoma said times were changing. This has been helped along by the allocation of R110 billion by the City of Joburg for capital infrastructure over the next 10 years.
“We completed a visual condition assessment and now know the exact condition of the city’s road network. This was last done in 2008. We now understand what has happened to our roads in the past five years and have developed a response plan to ensure that we get the JRA on the right trajectory towards achieving our targets,” he said.
In response to the study, the JRA is rolling out a major, R1bn road resurfacing programme, spending R100 million in 2013/14, R280m in 2014/15 and R630m in 2015/16 for roads in the city’s seven regions, plus an additional R700m over the three years for the M1 (R300m), M2 (R230m) and Soweto highway (R180m).
“Regarding road rehabilitation and reconstruction, this programme will improve poor roads with a budget allocation of R170m over three years – R25m in 2013/14, R70m in 2014/15 and R75 in 2015/16,” Macozoma said.
“The city will continue its medium-term programme to eradicate gravel roads in Joburg townships by investing R650m over the next three years in seven townships. We intend to add more townships to this programme in the next budget as the city has grown over the last decade,” he said.
Other programmes that make up the rest of the R4.5bn expenditure allocation in the next three years include the stormwater infrastructure upgrade programme, a stormwater open channel conversion programme, emergency stormwater projects, dam management and new traffic signal installations.
“The budget is not enough, given that we are coming from a low base and that there are 10 000km of roads to be attended to, but this will go a long way as a start.”
Macozoma added that internal structures within the JRA had been turned around.
“We have decentralised service delivery and consolidated depots across the regions. Now each region has a single depot and management structure. We have grouped together and prioritised the recapitalisation of five specialised depots, called strategic assets,” he said.
These included the asphalt plant, which had been refurbished; and new assets at the resurfacing division, including graders, loaders, sweepers and a jet machine. There was also now a materials testing lab and a motorways depot.
The JRA had recently created units for freight logistics, infrastructure protection, contracts management, and research and development.
Senior vacancies had largely been filled, and recruitment for the new structure would continue for the next three years to beef up the JRA’s delivery capacity, Macozoma added.
Added to this, a new performance and productivity management policy had been drafted.
“The Productivity Institute is being brought on board. We are tired of hearing about people sitting around all day,” he said.
A partnership had also been struck with the universities of Wits and Johannesburg for the supply of engineering skills.
There was ongoing co-operation with industry associations for professional development support.
“The new equipment we purchased has also helped to raise morale among the staff, who now feel better equipped to do the job,” Macozoma said.
The JRA will be focusing on converting streets into “complete streets.” This is in keeping with the City of Joburg mayor’s plans for the corridors of freedom which involve densifying inner city areas.
The objective is to move away from over-reliance on private cars and to create housing and economic activities closer to the work place and shopping opportunities.
The JRA will be retrofitting cyclists and pedestrian paths, establishing new pedestrian and cycle paths to Rea Vaya stations and shopping and entertainment centres. A new dedicated cycle lane will be constructed in Soweto linking the Noordgesig Clinic with schools in Oralando East, along Mooki Street. Street appearances are to be enhanced with new street lights, paving, signage and benches to encourage the use of outdoor areas.
OTHER PLANS TO IMPROVE ROADS
* A new stormwater management system
* A roads asset management system
* A pavement management system
* An accident management system
* A master plan for changing flood lines
* A plan to address water from the mines
* A master plan for Soweto to address flash floods
* Plans to convert open stormwater drains to underground ones in Diepsloot, Ivory Park, Orange Farm and Bramfischerville
TRAFFIC SIGNAL PROBLEMS
* The JRA has intro-duced a “get-it-right-first-time” initiative. Regarding early detection and reporting of faults (remote monitoring), the 2013/14 budget for remote monitoring is R14 million to target 300 inter-sections, which will give a total of 1 107 completed traffic signals. A further 470 signals will be brought online in 2014/15, giving a total of 1575 out of 2100, which will achieve the JRA target of 75 percent by 2015.
* An infrastructure protection unit has been established to stop theft and vandalism with a community-based, anti-vandalism and theft programme.
* An IT and CCTV camera management agreement is being concluded with the SA National Roads Agency.
* Reducing the human error factor. A combination of voluntary, mandatory, performance management-related and disciplinary measures are being implemented to improve this area.
* Addressing the poor inspection of traffic signals and proactive, routine maintenance by technicians as well as extending the role of regional inspectors to include signal monitoring, a controller upgrade programme, with a 2013/14 budget of R15m, has been established. A cable replacement programme, with a 2013/14 budget of R10m, has also been put in place.
* Power outages are to blame for the longest repair times as these require the involvement of City Power or Eskom. The JRA is finalising service-level agreements with these entities to streamline this fault repair process.