Roads focus in R1,5bn budget

Riot Hlatshwayo

Riot Hlatshwayo

Mpumalanga's newly-appointed MEC for roads and transport, Jackson Mthembu, yesterday tabled the department's budget for the 2008 - 2009 financial year.

The budget is just over R1,5billion.

In his budget speech, Mthembu shed light on the department's plans on the implementation of the Moloto Rail Corridor System, the new provincial road safety strategy, non-motorised transport, restructuring of the subsidisation of buses, the best practice model at vehicle testing centres, the provincial traffic academy, the coal haulage road network and the 2010 Soccer World Cup priority projects.

The budget would in essence cover the department's administration, roads infrastructure, public transport and traffic management costs.

With regard to traffic management, Mthembu pointed out that the department had only 40 drivers' licence examiners when at least 250 were needed for the province to meet its demand.

"There is a shortage of approximately 210 drivers' licence examiners," said Mthembu.

He said the shortage coincided with congestion at traffic stations, especially at Mhala and Thulamahashe where applicants were forced to sleep at the gates overnight so they could be the first to be tested the following day.

Mthembu said the department had submitted a business plan to the relevant section to deal with the shortage.

He said he would approach the executive council as well as the provincial treasury to assist with funding to resolve the matter during this current financial year.

Mthembu said a head of department would be appointed within the next 100 days.