Amid recent allegations that the Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA) was spending only a third of its allocated budget, the organisation on Monday stated that it has “without fail spent its entire budget, but for a small percentage, not more than 5% year to year”.

The organisation stated that this was accounted for by projects that required third-party involvement or approval, such as where the JRA has applied for environmental impact assessment.

In fact, JRA MD Dudu Maseko indicated that under funding was more of an issue, and should the JRA be allocated a larger budget, it would certainly be able to spend the money.

She added that the JRA was continually working with provincial and national government to unlock potential funding through grants, and was benefiting from investments from China.

The agency indicated that it has experienced challenges with regard to potholes fixing, reinstatements, and traffic signal outages, and it said that the road condition index was currently between 50% and 60%.

“In order to maintain the condition index at the current level we require about R156-million a year for resurfacing. To improve the index we require three times that amount every year. In the financial year ending June 2008, we had R30-million, and in the 2008/9 financial year we have R46-million for this activity,” stated JRA GEM business planning and analysis adv. Thulani Makhubela.

“In spite of these challenges JRA is doing very well. We would like to appeal to businesses to assist with funding,” Makhubela added.

The JRA acknowledged that it was experiencing a high staff turnover, and was concerned about the departure of critical staff, particularly in the areas of engineering. It said that engineers were leaving “either to pursue private businesses or have been recruited by other companies”.

The organisation was said to be suffering under the competition for skills from more prestigious projects such as the Gautrain and the construction of the 2010 World Cup stadiums. “The movement of personnel in that field is not unique to the JRA, but a phenomenon country over,” said Makhubela.

Maseko said that the JRA had strategies and policies for the attraction and retention of critical staff, and would benefit from three Development Bank of Southern Africa funded mentors, who were retired engineers and would return to assist the organisation. The JRA had also acquired another four previously retired engineers who would be working in the company once again.

With regard to traffic signal outages, the agency said it was investigating and testing alternative power supply solutions including uninterrupted power supply, and solar power installations, so as to reduce reliance on City Power and Eskom generated power.