THE government remains committed to construction of roads across the country to improve the lives of the citizens, the Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane, has said.
Dr Thabane was speaking at the recent official opening of the Alwyn’s Kop-Tele Road in Quthing where he alluded to the pledge of his 10-months old government’s commitment to infrastructure development for poverty alleviation.
He said the government was however, faced with serious financial challenges which have hindered progress in the mission to improve the country’s road network.
Dr Thabane said he was aware that villagers in Quthing have struggled to access some basic facilities like medical services due to lack of roads.
“The struggle of pregnant women and patients having to walk long distances on these dilapidated roads just to see a doctor is now over,” Dr Thabane said.
He said in line with the commitment to fight poverty, communities should take part in government initiatives adding that road project had empowered at least 115 people that were employed from the surrounding villages.
Dr Thabane said the government was in the process of approaching funding partners from funders to assist in the building of new roads and maintenance of existing infrastructure.
“Our infrastructure is old and we have received too much rains that have shown us that we need bigger bridges,” he said.
In the 2018/19 budget speech, Minister of Finance, Moeketsi Majoro, said in the current financial year (FY) the Marakabei-Monontša and Mpiti-Sehlabathebe Roads would commence while expectations are high that manufacturing and tourism sectors would receive massive boosts.
He said the Water, Public Works and Transport, Energy and Meteorology and Local Government and Chieftainship ministries should provide roads, energy and water infrastructure to assist both the economic and social ministries to create jobs. He however, lamented that the ministries “provide facilities at a slow pace because its provision is expensive”.
“But in doing this, they make two mistakes, namely that their work is not coordinated with the need of the economic ministries to catalyse investment and job creation. Second, the construction of roads has focused too much on constructing new roads rather than maintaining existing ones.
“These common failures have indirectly contributed to the stubbornly high poverty and hunger rates and the rising demand for social grants,” Dr Majoro said.
He also said that the government would during 2018 and within the ambit of the Joint Bilateral Cooperation with South Africa explore the upgrading the Monontša border post and road passage to the main road to Durban. When complete, the industrial zone is expected to employ nearly 14 000 people.
He noted that it was vital to plan the roads with maintenance in mind adding that the Road Fund collects funding that is earmarked for road maintenance, but in recent years, recipients have failed to utilise the money effectively.
Dr Majoro said in the FY2018/19, the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftainship plans to achieve 198.4km of urban roads and 1102km of rural community roads adding to 281.7 km and 37.9 km respectively achieved in the FY2017/18.