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					KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY HONOURABLE GLORIA BARRY, MEC FOR ROADS AND
TRANSPORT IN THE EASTERN CAPE AT THE OPENING OF THE QEBE BRIDGE

                       14 October 2008, Qebe Village, Ngcobo

Programme Director
Executive Mayor and Councilors
Traditional Leaders
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

Let me first take this opportunity to request everybody to stand up and observe a
moment a silence in memory of all six people, who lost their lives in the Xuka River
when this bridge was washed away.

Today marks a departure from the sad moments in the history of Qebe,
Manzimdaka, Sundwana, Matyeni and Hala villages to a better future as government
had heeded the people’s call for the construction of a safe and decent bridge that
would enhance connectivity and communication amongst the 3000 households in
this area.

This event forms part of our 2008 October Transport Month Programme, through
which government showcases its successes in improving the quality of life for all our
people.

We remain committed to the promises that we have made through our 2004
Manifesto and victory is certain in our quest for a better life for all.

As we march together in this Second Decade of our Freedom, we remain determined
to intensify our efforts to provide services, which include roads infrastructure to
areas of South African that are still struggling to have good quality roads.
This undertaking will simultaneously assist to radically reduce the levels of
unemployment and poverty through labour-based methods of reconstructing our
country.
We have a Provincial Infrastructure Master Plan, which guides our work of dealing
with broad infrastructure development and investment that seek to improve
accessibility and mobility of our people, especially in the rural areas.


Unlike the old bridge, the new bridge that we are officially opening today has two
lanes for traffic and a pedestrian walkway on both sides for pedestrian safety and
easy flow of traffic

This bridge will change the socio-economic conditions of the local communities that
live across the bridge as they will now travel a mere 8 to 10 kilometers to Ngcobo
town at a cost of approximately R10.00 return.


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During the period that the bridge was washed away, the cost of travelling to Ngcobo
was estimated at R100.00 return trip as it required one to travel first to Elliot before
actually travelling to Ngcobo. The difference in distance is about 50 kilometers.

In line with government policy as espoused in the Expanded Public Works
Programme, many local people have been employed during the construction of this
bridge. A total of 1 364 people have been employed, including women and youth.
However, I am concerned about the absence of people with disabilities in the list of
beneficiaries as that is against government policy. We have a responsibility to ensure
that people with disabilities have equal access to opportunities that are being
created by the democratic state.

Rural Bridges Intervention Programme

This bridge marks the start of our work in a quest to intervene decisively in order to
improve the accessibility of people to government services, schools, clinics,
hospitals, police stations, tourism areas and other economic opportunities.
The Department of Roads and Transport has conducted an assessment of all bridges
in the Province and developed a plan to reconstruct the collapsed bridges in order to
effectively integrate the rural population into the national economy.

We have observed the isolation of rural communities, which was perpetuated by lack
of infrastructure and that resulted to poverty.

We strongly believe that bridges are critical in order to achieve the targets of the
Provincial Growth and Development Plan and the Millenium Development Goals,
where government has made a commitment of reducing poverty by 50% by 2014.

More bridges are being upgraded, especially in the eastern part of our Province,
including the Bolotwa Bridge.

Through our new Rural Bridges Intervention Programme, we will introduce a
modular system based on a 3m panel that is easily transportable to the site and be
rapidly erected in only a few days time and require minimal maintenance.

This can be used temporary or permanently as the structure is compact and
complete and could be set up using local unskilled labour under supervision from
skilled persons trained on the technology. The product creates jobs during
construction and maintenance period for local people.

As a start, the Department will be piloting its first steel bridge structure over the
Mbashe River at Dwesa/Cwebe Reserve area. The bridge will promote tourism in the
area as well as make it easy to access the Madwaleni Hospital.

In the next financial year, there will be a massive roll out of this project with 6
bridges in each district, which will start here in the Chris Hani District at the Kei Lands
area over the Great Kei River.

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The department is currently assessing various requests from our districts for
prioritization.

Shova Kalula

Today we are also handing over 129 bicycles to 5 local schools as part of our Shova
Kalula Bicycle Project. The schools are:

Masikhulenathi Primary School (25)
Qoba Primary School (20)
Sithonga Junior Secondary School (22)
Bojana Primary School (27)
Nyalasa Junior Secondary School (25)

This project assists learners who travel long distances to reach schools. More
bicycles will be distributed to Alfred Nzo, Ukhahlamba and OR Tambo Districts and
each will receive 500 bicycles.
Another batch of 3 500 bicycles is expected next month for further distribution.

This year, the department has passed its target of distributing 2110 bicycles to needy
schools.

A total of 6 containers have acquired and are fully equipped with spares (worth R50
000 per container) and equipment that are used as bicycle maintenance shops. We
are currently in a process of identifying managers to run these maintenance shops.
We believe that this initiative will make a huge difference to those learners who
have to walk long distances to access schools. This milestone marks the realization of
government’s commitment to open the doors of learning to all.

In conclusion,

It is clear to all of us, especially the local community, that today is better than
yesterday and the democratic developmental state remains determined to ensure
that tomorrow is far better than today.

I thank you.




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