There has been an increase in reports of deteriorating infrastructure in municipalities across South Africa, which highlights the critical need to maintain existing infrastructure to sustain and support public service delivery and boost economic growth in the future.

In response to massive service backlogs and recent widespread protests against inadequate service delivery, the government has accelerated investment into infrastructure.

The failure to preserve these new investments, along with what is already in place, will not only jeopardise these investments, but will also threaten stability further, and give rise to costly repairs later on.

National Treasury Intergovernmental Relations director Malijeng Ngqaleni said that the maintenance problem has been acknowledged across government.

Among the infrastructure maintenance challenges, she cited a lack of culture of asset management practices, such as inadequate asset registers and the extent of maintenance needs.

“There are deficiencies in institutional arrangements, which undermine the actual maintenance of assets and the one-size-fits-all approach to fiscal flows to municipalities is a major problem,” Ngqaleni told the Infrastructure Dialogue, held at the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA).

The Infrastructure Dialogue, jointly hosted by the Support Programme for Accelerated Development, a partnership between the Business Trust and the Presidency of the South African government, and the DBSA, is a series of monthly dialogues dealing with key issues in the infrastructure sector.

These dialogues provide a platform for discussion and exchange of views between senior government, private sector and civil society stakeholders in the sector.

Ngqaleni noted that there is a need to strengthening the regulatory framework governing planning and budgeting for infrastructure maintenance.

Afcap Consulting director Johan Kruger said that the timely maintenance of infrastructure increases economic life and delays capital replacement.

“The quality of maintenance of municipal infrastructure has a direct and indirect impact on private sector productivity and profitability affecting the tax base for central government and the gross domestic product of South Africa in turn, leaving less money for maintenance,” warned Kruger.

PUBLICATION: Engineering News
AUTHOR: Dennis Ndaba
DATED: 3rd September 2009