Paper presented at the 32nd Annual Southern African Transport Conference 8-11 July 2013 "Transport and Sustainable Infrastructure", CSIR International Convention Centre, Pretoria, South Africa.
Besides access to the national road network leading to major urban nodes in South Africa
boasting higher order goods and opportunities, benefits of rural roads include better access to local markets, educational and health facilities, employment opportunities as well as local sources of food, energy and water. Given the national imperatives to provide basic services to all South Africans, rural roads certainly represent the fulcrum of government’s service delivery agenda, and for that reason, the effectiveness of service delivery (or the lack thereof) and returns on transport infrastructure investments have become the focus of national attention particularly where they grab the headlines by way of violent service delivery protests. Despite massive backlogs in terms of maintenance and provision of new infrastructure occasioned by a multiplicity of factors, least of which include narrow capacity and skills base, inadequate funding, weak integrative planning, and political will, this paper highlights the important role played by rural roads (and transport services) especially with regard to impacting the MDGs. The paper further asserts that the centrepiece of integrated planning – information – for example, about the network of rural roads, needs to be generated and fed into decision-support systems that allow transport authorities to make informed decisions about infrastructure investments given the severe constraints on funding sources. This stems from the realisation that framing rural roads as assets in their development and management as well as in terms of rural communities’ productive, social, and locational assets provides impetus for and commitment to protracted action. It then gives an overview of the efforts of the Department of Transport to assist selected district municipalities to develop such decision support systems in their jurisdictions – Rural Road Asset Management Systems – with a view to heightening service delivery.
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