Sihlalo, uMphathiswa uDe Lille amalungu eqela elilawulayo eNtshona Koloni iDA, kumaLungu eBhunga laMaphondo leSizwe, mandizibulisele ngale njikalanga.
There has been much talk across our country in all spheres of government about infrastructure - from the claims that a commitment to infrastructure investment will turn the economy around to the acknowledgement of the reality that much existing infrastructure has been allowed to deteriorate to the extent that it is irreparable.
In general terms, it is now recognised that without appropriate functional infrastructure our ability to deliver meaningful services to the people of South Africa is seriously compromised. I think there must be a lesson that we are learning from this because every time we are faced with a budgetary constrain challenge, we always sacrifice maintenance funding and that is why we are seeing the collapsing of our SOEs and many other entities. Therefore, in this
regard, the Minister of Finance in the province in two days ago when he delivered his budget speech, he demonstrated our commitment to maintain spending on the new and existing infrastructure.
In the Western Cape, we will be spending R2,6 billion on new infrastructure assets and R16,7 billion on existing infrastructure assets over the medium term in our province. We will be spending R9,6 billion on maintenance of existing transport assets. We will be spending R3,1 billion on the maintenance of existing education assets and we will be spending R2,3 billion on the maintenance of existing health assets.
Chairperson, there can be no doubt about the commitment of the Western Cape government to maintaining existing infrastructure as well as delivering new infrastructure to improve service delivery and to create cohesive communities.
We have seen across our chequered history how infrastructure can extract raw materials for the benefit of the few divide communities and define the life trajectory of people across entire generations. I am sure that this House will agree with me as many members have said that the new role of infrastructure we foresee is one that build communities, connect people to opportunities and ultimately
restores dignity because indeed it is a fact that we are coming from a very divided past. But we must also be honest about our own short comings and the mistakes that we made because I think it is misleading to compare ourselves with the previous government because I think all of us agree that that government catered for the minority few. All of us agree with that. But we should be comparing ourselves with ourselves, what we have achieved and what we could have achieved if we didn't plunder the state recourses. That is a debate that we should be having.
I have over the last couple of months met with a number role players in the infrastructure space and specifically the construction sector and will continue to do so because it is through these engagements that we aim to foster a new partnership between the state and the private sector to collectively tackle the challenges that manifest in the everyday lives of citizens.
There can be no doubt that while building a capable state is of utmost importance, the state cannot deliver infrastructure without its key partners in the construction industry. We need to leverage off our respective technical capabilities to ensure that our contribution is maximised. What is at stake here is not only the R248 billion worth of provincial assets, but how these assets can be
utilised and maximised for service delivery to the citizens across the lifecycle of these assets.
I do agree with you hon Dangor that we need to start by partnering with ourselves before we can talk about attracting the private sector. But I do want to make it very clear, sir, that part of the reason the private sector is not keen on investing has nothing to do with the members of the opposition. The private sector and investors in particular are looking for three very important things from the centre. They are looking for policy certainty, decisive leadership and energy security. Those are the key things that the private sector is looking for and unfortunately those things do not exist under the current government.
I have accordingly started a process to establish a special unit housed within the office of the HOD to actively leverage our infrastructure portfolio to bring about spatial transformation, leverage economic and social opportunity and reframe the role that infrastructure can play in the restoration of the dignity of our citizens.
In this regard, my team has already identified a pipeline of projects that could be leveraged to achieve this goal and will, in
collaboration with the private sector, apply the most appropriate mechanisms and models to realise this in the shortest possible time. Through the various engagements with the infrastructure sector role players, we are actively putting in place the building blocks of a new compact between the state, the private sector and communities to restore trust, build partnerships and hold each other accountable. That is why I have been working very closely with the National Minister of Transport to make sure that we fix the central line that transport almost 600 000 people so that we can ensure that our economy which severely hampered because of the challenges that we are facing with the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa, Prasa, is brought back on track.
A critical component of building that trust is for government to deliver on its promises. To this end, I have started to create platforms to engage on policy reforms, delivery capability, opportunities and delivery models in the infrastructure and infrastructure services domain, including the development and deployment of technology in this space.
This is where we need technical capability and expertise. Our existing models of design, of maintaining our infrastructure and of delivery will not produce the desired results. Within a fiscally
constrained environment our room for manoeuvring is simply vanishing.
On maintenance, the backlog on the road infrastructure portfolio amounts to more than R25 billion, a backlog that will not be adequately addressed through current conventional funding modalities across the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF. The situation is of equal concern across our Public Works Portfolio. How we package this maintenance backlog and how we access funding and how we as collective build resilience into our infrastructure ecosystem will be addressed in greater details through the platforms that I have alluded to. Now, this is the government that is not only lamenting but looking forward to deal with the existing challenges in partnership with all spheres of government and the private sector.
I remain steadfast, Chairperson, in my commitment to provide effective and efficient public infrastructure goods and for this to be done in partnership with the private sector. We also welcome as the DA, the announcement that was made by both the President and the Minister of Finance that of allowing the independent power producers, the municipalities to procure power directly from independent power producers.
I can tell you now that 24 municipalities in the province of the Western Cape are ready to procure power directly from the Independent Power Producers, IPPs.
Lastly, to add further long term certainty, I have tasked my department to update the 2013 Western Cape Infrastructure Framework to provide a clear overall infrastructure strategy that ensures that we as a collective strive towards the same objectives and that we harness and synergise the scarce resources available to each of us and we work on this everyday and we must work on this everyday in partnership with all the partners that I have mentioned. I thank you. [Applause.]