Gauteng announces R37 billion budget for ailing city infrastructure

  • Gauteng will have a budget of R37 billion to deliver infrastructure goals in the 2024/2025 financial year.
  • This is according to Finance MMC Jacob Mamabolo, who delivered the province’s budget speech on Tuesday.
  • Johannesburg, the wealthiest region in South Africa, is dealing with widespread infrastructure challenges.

On Tuesday afternoon, large swathes of Randburg, Soweto and central Johannesburg were without water as a fault at the Eikenhof substation led to a chain reaction that sapped electricity from key Rand Water pumping infrastructure. While repairs were completed relatively quickly, the situation is another example of failing infrastructure across South Africa’s wealthiest city.

That same day Gauteng MMC for Finance Jacob Mamabolo delivered the 2024 budget for what was once called “a world-class African city.” The total budget for the province in the 2024/2025 financial year is R165.8 billion.

The largest swathes of the budget will be applied towards education and health, with R65.8 billion and R64.8 billion respectively. Of the total amount, Gauteng will now have a budget of R37.2 billion for the delivery and maintenance of public infrastructure. This includes electricity infrastructure through entities like City Power, and water infrastructure from the likes of Rand Water and Johannesburg Water, as well as new projects in the pipeline.

“These resources will be used to continue with the implementation of projects that commenced with construction in the previous financial years and projects that have met the minimum planning requirements for funding,” explained Mamabolo during his budget speech.

“We used this budget to maintain the existing stock of infrastructure assets and provide additional capacity in response to the growing need for service delivery,” he added.

Apart from the enormous debt owed to the province’s infrastructure companies, Johannesburg Water has R636 million in outstanding fees owed to it from state-owned enterprises, the city is experiencing widespread neglect of public infrastructure.

In October last year, Daily Maverick reported that Johannesburg had over 4 000 pipe bursts a month, averaging 140 burst pipes, leaking tonnes of water across roads and streets, per day. Water that is becoming a more scarce resource as of late.

A widespread water outage affected most areas in the city last year in July. From Soweto to Fairland, residents were told by the provincial government to store water as the shutdown would last a week as important maintenance was performed on several key water infrastructure locations around the city.

There was a time when Gauteng’s water quality was lauded, among the finest in the world. Now residents are forced to experience yearly water supply interruptions. Even worse in some areas, where water cuts can affect residents for months at a time.

Residents are facing more than just water woes. Johannesburg’s electricity maintenance utility City Power said on Tuesday that it was dealing with a scourge of infrastructure sabotage in the city. The company has recorded nearly 1 000 incidents of vandalised street lights in the last six months of 2023.

Incidents of vandalism already constrain City Power’s overworked maintenance teams. Often dispatched to sort out unplanned outages across the city’s many metros on the daily, at whatever hour in the day. The company’s X account is a pertinent example of this. The latest a team was dispatched to handle an emergency power outage was a few hours ago, as of the time of writing.

The Gauteng government has its job cut out for it in terms of infrastructure delivery for the province’s growing population, already the largest in the country.

[Image – Photo by Luis Tosta on Unsplash]


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