North West Premier Promises Roads, Water and Jobs

By Jessie Taylor

Service delivery will become the priority for the North West province this year, Premier Kaobitsa Maape has promised. He aims to roll out the province’s biggest service delivery programme in the next year. In his 2023 State of the Province Address (SOPA), Premier Maape said that his administration would concentrate efforts on service delivery and job creation as the province still battles the aftereffects of the global pandemic.

Accelerated Service Delivery 

“This is the year of service delivery, the biggest ever government delivery programme, which will be the primary activity and dominant focus of all government work over the next 12 months,” Premier Maape said. “We are moving into our neighbourhoods, our streets and roads, which are critical points of contact for service delivery as our permanent homes.”

As part of the service delivery intervention, the provincial government will work with municipalities to provide basic services to communities. Through the Accelerated Service Delivery Plan, municipalities are clearing illegal dumping sites, constructing new high mast lights, repairing existing ones, repairing damaged roads and addressing water and sewer issues.

“We have established a steering committee jointly with Minister of Water and Sanitation Senzo Mchunu to urgently attend to water and sanitation challenges across the province. The steering committee has developed a plan to deal with immediate water challenges, with priority being given to Ditsobotla, Naledi, Madibeng, Ramotshere Moiloa [municipalities] and others,” he said.

The Premier will also be establishing a “Provincial War Room” to deal with water and sanitation issues. Among the service delivery interventions is a mobile app to allow the public to report and track service delivery interruptions. In addition, there are plans to broaden connectivity to schools with a R31.2 million project to triple learner access to broadband and Wi-Fi in the 2023 academic year.

Premier Maape also announced plans to bolster infrastructure, including a Routine Roads Maintenance Plan and R13 billion allocation for rural road projects. “We have listened to the cries of our communities, farmers, business people and the transport industry in general, who are affected daily by the poor state of roads,” he said. “We are taking action to repair, maintain and upgrade most of the roads in the province, which have been a source of complaints from many of our communities.”

Mega Projects

Premier Maape said that a panel of experts had been appointed, and they had produced a blueprint and a technical manual to use for mega projects. The panel has also identified 185 projects and prioritised eight critical mega infrastructure projects. Among the projects identified are the Smart City development, Bojanala Special Economic Zone, agri-processing and agro-hubs, and water and bulk water supply.

The second focus for Premier Maape lies in job creation, which he believes will be bolstered by the planned infrastructure projects. According to Hon. Maape, the province achieved the highest average annual growth rate of 8.1% in 2021, mainly due to the recovery from the COVID-19-induced economic decline. However, he remains concerned about the province’s unemployment rate of 39%, which is higher than the national rate of 32.9%. “These shocking numbers clearly demonstrate that more effort on job creation is needed,” he said. To help lower the unemployment rate, an expert panel was appointed last year to review the Provincial Growth and Development Strategy. Premier Maape said this panel had submitted a final draft report, and it would be the Executive Council.

Premier Maape said that his administration had already accepted one of the panel’s recommendations – the revival of the Premier’s Economic Advisory Council. This council should include focused expertise in the critical sectors of mining, agriculture, tourism, energy and manufacturing, and Premier Maape said it would be implemented without delay.

Youth will remain a key focus of the province’s unemployment strategy, Premier Maape said. He added that R12 million had been set aside to support youth-owned businesses that have been successfully incubated at our Mafikeng Digital Innovation Hub, and 13 069 Expanded Public Work Programme beneficiaries have been afforded work. “Youth, women and persons with disabilities are the primary beneficiaries of available work opportunities through public infrastructure. This recruitment will reach the milestone of creating 200 000 job opportunities over the next five years,” he said.

In addition, 2 300 work opportunities in training and business development support were created for young people in the province. Premier Maape added that the North West Parks Board would spend R4 million on a youth skills development programme, which will create at least 120 job opportunities.

Sources: Mail and Guardian North West Government OFM