Skills and contractor shortages are major obstacles to the upgrading of road infrastructure in Johannesburg, the South African National Roads Agency said on Tuesday.

Spokesperson Ismail Essa said as the upgrading projects advanced, the challenges would be greater.

“Skills and contractor shortages are the foreseeable challenges but are being addressed. We hope as the project advances, the skills in the actual construction will be addressed and that they won’t have an impact on the city meeting deadlines,” Essa said.

He said there was a commitment from the industry to meet the deadlines.

Essa spoke on the sidelines of a city-wide media tour of the sites where transport infrastructure was being upgraded for 2010.

Transport Minister Jeff Radebe, who was part of the contingent, said the projects were a demonstration of the government’s commitment in addressing the transport challenges facing the people of Johannesburg.

The contingent started in Soweto where a 5,5km road, known as the N17, is being constructed to link Orlando stadium to the N1 and Soccer City.

“This project will leave a significant and lasting legacy for footballers in terms of providing direct and rapid access to the Nasrec sports precinct.

“It will also transform Soweto by providing ramps to the freeway, improving access, and thereby help destroy the deliberate socio-economic barriers created before our 1994 democratic dispensation,” Radebe said.

The N17 Soweto road project, worth about R420-million, started in September 2007 and is scheduled for completion in December 2009.

Radebe said the department would continue investing in all forms of transportation around the city and throughout the country.

He also said he was not aware that taxi recapitalisation had stalled in the city because “we are working well with Santaco, scrapping is continuing as normal”.

Santaco announced in March that their participation in the taxi recapitalisation project would be put on hold following unhappiness with the conversion of taxi permits and the R50 000 scrapping allowance.

Also forming part the contingent was Johannesburg mayor Amos Masondo, who said hosting the World Cup was an important milestone for Johannesburg.

“Long after 2010 people will be able to point to the legacy of these projects.”

Radebe also unveiled the emblem of the Rea Vaya Bus project.

The project would introduce a network of buses travelling along dedicated bus lanes with bus stops situated every 500m. There will be 150 stations, with major nodes in Lenasia, Soweto, Nasrec, Rosebank, Sandton and Ellis Park.

It is planned that the buses, which will be in operation 24 hours a day, will arrive at the bus stops every one or two minutes in peak hours, and every ten minutes in off-peak hours.

It is envisaged that the first phase of the system will create 51 000 job opportunities and the system will also contribute to reducing traffic. According to the Radebe, the existing minibus taxis who operate on the same routes “will be incorporated in the new rapid transit system”