Bushy Maape says NW bridge opening has nothing to do with votes for municipal elections
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Pretoria - North West Premier Bushy Maape yesterday hit back at critics who said the unveiling of a multimillion-rand bridge at Vermaasdrift near Potchefstroom was used as bait to attract voters for the ANC for the November 1 municipal elections.
Maape was speaking during a ceremony hosted to mark the completion of bridges that link his province and the Free State. He took a swipe at the opposition parties for criticising the timing of the bridges’ opening.
“These bridges were planned a long time ago. We do not have the art to make the completion of the bridges coincide with elections. We are not witchdoctors and we are not prophets.
“In fact, we have planned this bridge to happen, and it has happened. If it worries you and it offends you and it is completed during this time, particularly you opposition parties, it is not our business. Continue worrying about that,” he said.
Also in attendance were Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula, his deputy Sindisiwe Chikunga and SA National Taxi Association president Phillip Taaibosch.
Mbalula weighed in on North West politics, saying he wished Maape a long stay at the helm of the province because “the premiers of North West don't last”.
He cautioned Maape to be careful because other people were watching his every step and would soon plot his downfall
He said the alleged plotters wouid in “a couple of weeks” send delegations to Luthuli House, asking that Maape be removed and replaced by themselves. Maape was installed in the position last month after the ANC's provincial interim committee recalled former premier Job Mokgoro, who replaced Supra Mahumapelo in 2018.
Regarding the project, he said it was part of the labour-intensive S’hamba Sonke programme in North West, which saw the construction of four bridges at Vermaasdrift. However, only two bridges were showcased and others would be completed at a later stage.
The programme formed part of the projects to accelerate the government’s target of creating 11 million job opportunities by 2030, in line with the National Development Plan.
Mbalula used the event to officially launch the 2021 October Transport Month campaign to showcase flagship projects intended to create more jobs.
“During Transport Month we want to actualise the meaning of road construction and infrastructure development in rural areas. We have allocated R7 billion to project of S’hamba Sonke in different provinces,” he said
He said the project had created at least 118 jobs for locals. It was expected that the bridges would play a significant role in connecting communities in North West and the Free State.
“The bridges will enable farming communities to transport their produce from farms to the local markets,” he said.
According to Mbalula, his department had invested R37bn that would be spent on road construction which involved labour-intensive methods, in order to create jobs.