South Africa

Shocking state of South African service delivery

DRDGold CEO Niel Pretorius

DRDGold CEO Niel Pretorius said that service delivery in South Africa is in a shocking state, and there does not seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel.

He told Newzroom Africa that the dysfunctional state of the country’s infrastructure has a tangible impact on people’s quality of life.

“We need to start taking quality of life seriously for South Africans and reverse these trends,” he said.

Pretorius bemoaned the state of transport infrastructure in particular.

“The train system has disintegrated – there are no busses – there doesn’t seem to be anything happening to fix them.”

He said that transport infrastructure was significantly weakened during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“While the beaches were being monitored and dog walkers were being locked up, the stations and Transnet infrastructure was being decimated by criminals stealing and plundering whatever they could.”

Due to a lack of alternatives, Pretorius said that commuters increasingly rely on the taxi industry to get to work.

The taxi industry is poorly regulated, unsafe, and run by people who “protect their monopoly through the barrel of a gun”, he said.

“We shouldn’t allow criminal cartels to play such an important role in terms of the commute,” he said.

Boksburg station. Image credit: David Edwards

Infrastructure report card

The South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE) published a report card last year to assess the state of public infrastructure.

The report card tracked performance over 16 years, and last year South Africa was given its worst-ever overall rating of ‘D’, on a sliding scale from ‘A’ to ‘E’.

This put the country’s infrastructure in the ‘at risk of failure’ category.

Here is how transport infrastructure fared in the report card:

  • Roads – South Africa is estimated to have the 10th largest road network in the world, according to the report. While National roads were given a B+ score, all other categories were in the ‘at risk of failure’ category or lower. 
  • Airports – The report said that, overall, aviation infrastructure remains in good condition. The nine major airports owned by Aviation Company South Africa, which enable more than 80% of international and domestic commercial air travel, were given a B- rating, in the ‘fit for the future’ category.
  • Ports – The report found that commercial ports and fishing harbours were both in the ‘fit for the future’ category.
  • Rail There were mixed ratings in different categories of rail infrastructure. Heavy haul freight lines and the Gautrain were rated highly, general freight lines were in the ‘satisfactory for now’ category, while branch and PRASA lines were given the lowest ranking possible on the scale, falling into the ‘unfit for purpose’ category.


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