The Deputy Minister of Transport, Mr Jeremy Cronin, MP, sharing some of his insights during a recent visit to the CSIR.
“For the year 2012 and beyond, we invite the nation to join government in a massive infrastructure development drive,” said President Jacob Zuma in his State of the Nation (SoNA) address on 9 February. In the week prior to the SoNA, the Deputy Minister of Transport and the CSIR had intense discussions about the CSIR's research, development and innovation capabilities that could assist with infrastructure development, operation and maintenance, as well as with transport planning challenges.
“We are excited that the President stressed the importance of infrastructure in the SoNA. Within the budget earmarked for that, we’ll identify and pursue R&D contract avenues in order to contribute to this infrastructure development drive of government,” comments Dr Cornelius Ruiters, Executive Director of CSIR Built Environment.
The timing of the CSIR-initiated visit by the Deputy Minister, Mr Jeremy Cronin, was very opportune in relation to the SoNA following a week later. The Deputy Minister identified accessibility to rural areas and the transportation needs associated with urban sprawl as two key areas requiring attention. The meeting discussed the suite of competences that the CSIR could provide to address these and other challenges facing the country. The Deputy Minister noted that the CSIR was well-positioned to provide advice and give input into policy formulation for the national Department of Transport (DoT).
He also broadened the discussion to include integrated spatial planning and urban dynamics simulation, with the CSIR providing the context for its science-based simulation of urban regions, as well as its planning solutions and recommendations.
After the Deputy Minister shared his insights, the CSIR highlighted its competences within transport systems and operations, and within transport infrastructure engineering (including ports). Project examples were cited where the CSIR’s capabilities had been used to address specific problems. The Deputy Minister responded that such challenges should be tackled in a coordinated, integrated approach at a national level, with the commitment of all provincial DoTs.
The Deputy Minister of Transport flanked by the CSIR’s Kenny Kistan and Dr Cornelius Ruiters.
The Deputy Minister noted that he wanted similar meetings with the CSIR to follow soon, involving appropriate DoT decision-makers with a focus on collaboration in specific projects, including infrastructure-related initiatives.
As the secretariat for the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission (PICC), the Deputy Minister said a number of new, integrated infrastructure projects that would act as catalysts had been identified by the recently-established PICC. The PICC is a powerful grouping, bringing together cabinet ministers, premiers and metro mayors under the leadership of the President and the Deputy President of South Africa.
The strategic infrastructure development projects and initiatives identified by the PICC and announced by the President during the SoNA include:
- Expanded roll-out of water, roads, rail and electricity infrastructure. Ten priority roads will be upgraded;
- The development and integration of rail, road and water infrastructure around two main areas in Limpopo;
- Improved movement of goods and economic integration through a Durban-Free State-Gauteng logistics and industrial corridor;
- The development of a major new node in the Eastern Cape for improved industrial and agricultural development and increased export capacity. This will expand the province’s economic and logistics linkages with the Northern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal; and
- Improved infrastructure along the west coast of the country to unlock its potential.