Infrastructure development lies at the heart of government’s programme to create sustainable jobs and reengineer the spatial layout of a post-apartheid Gauteng. This is according to Gauteng Premier David Makhura.
He said the role of the infrastructure sector has been encapsulated meticulously in the National Development Plan (NDP) 2030, where strategic socio-economic infrastructure investment has been identified as one of the key pillars necessary to achieve the objectives of the Plan.
When Makhura delivered his State of the Province Address earlier in February, he highlighted several figures which reflect the province’s urban growth rates and the costs associated with urbanisation.
Between 2013 and 2016, Gauteng invested R30 billion in infrastructure development. This translates into an average annual economic growth rate of 20.7% – the fastest for any province in the country.
Over the next three years, a further R42 billion will be spent on infrastructure projects in Gauteng. The investment is projected create around 190,000 direct, and 140,000 indirect jobs.
In order to get these kinds of mega infrastructure projects off the ground, several strategies have been agreed upon. They include the following plans and projects:
- Creating high impact community infrastructure (precincts)
The Department of Infrastructure Development has developed a new paradigm which will drastically transform the manner in which the province delivers infrastructure.
The new plan entails converting some existing infrastructure, such as schools, hospitals, libraries and community centres, into centres of economic activity by applying a new integrated precinct-style form of development.
Makhura said the province is working closely with the private sector, emerging black property developers and universities to deliver the new Integrated Precinct Developments.
This plan is a direct response to the province’s Immovable Asset Register which has over R30 billion worth of public buildings and land.
Makhura also said that unutilised land will be earmarked for the implementation of the precinct model.
Potential precinct locations identified for development include the area around the Lillian Ngoyi Hospital, the excess land from the Sandown High School, an area next to the Vaal Dam, an area around Emoyeni Conference Centre and, finally, the Roodeplaat Dam.
- Smart project management
Last year, Gauteng introduced its project nerve centre, Lutsinga Infrastructure House. The system uses technology to track developments in the planning, design and construction of all its projects and also gives the department good data to intervene timeously to ensure that project are delivered on time and are cost effective.
Lutsinga has introduced transparency, ensuring that managers at various levels are held accountable for the work that they do in the value chain.
- Project readiness matrix
When it comes to implementing a new development, it was discovered through tracking systems at Lutsinga Infrastructure House that proper planning processes were not followed at the beginning of many projects.
Makhura said the department has developed a Project Readiness Matrix which will enable the department, client departments, and provincial treasury to determine if all the key deliverables or requisites for each phase of the project pipeline are in place before beginning with planning and design.
“This will help us increase efficiency and reduce delays that come with disjointed coordination throughout the value chain,” Makhura said.
- Prioritising maintenance of community infrastructure
Makhura said one of the province’s key mandates is to build state properties and maintain them.
“The department elevated its maintenance function to ensure that it is appropriately resourced to meet the demands that will be placed on it,” he said. “Our maintenance plan will be designed to become more preventative and responsive.”
The department has employed a Maintenance Crack Team that will respond to matters, prioritising health facilities, and help decrease the backlog.
- Green and sustainable energy
Currently, a rooftop Solar PV Project is underway. It seeks to roll-out solar panels at 16 health facilities.
“We are at an advanced stage in the implementation of Trigeneration (Trigen) Plants at 6 hospital facilities,” Makhura said.
Trigeneration is a cooling and heating technology which is used to generate chilled water for air conditioning or refrigeration. This technology generates more electricity and is rated as 80% more efficient.
The province said it also plans to support small and medium business enterprises in the industry and will continue to assist and encourage black firms and township enterprises to get involved in localisation and manufacturing initiatives so that they can produce goods locally and sell them to domestic and foreign markets.
“In order for us to do this effectively, we need to get the basics right,” Makhura said. “We have to pay our service providers and contractors on time and within 30 days.”
He also highlighted the I Care We Care campaign which was launched in an effort to stop the vandalism and litter of community assets.
He said that the province’s “efforts often amount to nothing if our communities still see public property as government property”, which has in the past led to the burning of libraries, clinics and community centres.