Mthatha - President Jacob Zuma has reiterated his commitment to improving Mthatha, in the Eastern Cape.

“We will never rest for as long as there are people without food, shelter, good roads, electricity, water, sanitation, housing and many other services,” he said in a speech prepared for delivery on Friday at the launch of infrastructure projects in the area.

“We will keep working harder to ensure that ultimately, households in all parts of the country obtain basic services.”

Zuma expressed his satisfaction with developments there until now.

“In 2010, I visited this area and was disappointed by the condition of infrastructure in King Sabata Dalindyebo (municipality) and the fact that Mthatha and surroundings appeared to be in a state of collapse,” he said.

The government had invested millions to provide electricity in the area and almost 3000 new electricity connections had been made.

“Over the last two years, a total amount of R251 million was spent in the (municipality) for network upgrading and strengthening of networks to ensure better quality of (electricity) supply,” he said.

The project created 125 jobs.

The government had also spent R490m upgrading the Mthatha airport.

“A new runway has been constructed and the airport will be able to receive larger aircraft, which will unlock the economic potential of the region,” said Zuma.

A new helipad ramp with lights, which would help in emergency and medical landings, had been built, as had a road linking a temporary terminal to the hangers.

“A tender for R200 million has been put out for the upgrading the new terminal building,” said Zuma.

The airport would also have a new car hire facility.

On Friday, the municipality also opened the Mthatha Bridge.

Zuma said R108m had gone into the expansion of the bridge.

“This bridge will reduce the travelling time to town and ease congestion,” he said.

Improving housing in the area was a top priority.

“We are also looking at improving housing, but are constrained by the land issue, which has not been resolved yet,” said Zuma.

He urged Mthatha residents to co-operate with the government to continue expanding services.

“We know that, at times, government does not move as fast as citizens want it to, but we urge you to be patient,” said Zuma.

Sapa