R416bn maintenance backlog for SA roads

South Africa’s road maintenance backlog had more than doubled from R197 billion to R416.6 billion in the last six years, researchers revealed at the Southern African Transport Conference (SATC) in Pretoria yesterday.

According to a presentation by professors Don Ross and Matthew Townshend from the University of Cape Town, 77.5% of all gravel roads in South Africa are in poor condition.

The R416.6 billion maintenance backlog translated into a R243.7 billion functional maintenance backlog and a R281.2 billion technical needs maintenance backlog, Townshend said.

A complete upgrade of all gravel roads would cost an estimated R1.7 trillion – which is beyond the state’s financial capacity.

“At the very least we can perhaps address the backlog over the long term, especially given South Africa’s current low growth trajectory and the Treasury’s commitment to fiscal consolidation,” Townshend said.

He added that not all roads required maintenance as they did not all contribute equally.

“Roads which are contributing positively should be kept and those that are not should be actively unproclaimed to try and get these figures to a reasonable amount that the department can address.”

The current provincial road maintenance backlog of R150.7 billion is six times the provincial annual expenditure.


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