New Ugie road opened in Eastern Cape

8 March 2011

Eastern Cape MEC for transport, roads and public works Thandiswa Marawu said the opening of the Ugie to Langeni road was expected to change the economic landscape of the region and the province at large.

Marawu was speaking at Ugie at the official opening of the road, following an investment of R830m. The road runs from Ugie on the R56 to the R61, approximately 25km from Mthatha. Its construction was implemented in three phases.

Phase one was Ugie to Nyembeni village, a distance of 33km, phase two was 17km from Nyembeni village to Langeni Sawmill, while phase three, a distance of 13km, was Langeni Sawmill to the R61.

“It is, indeed, a great honour for us as the department of roads and public works to finally open the third stage of this award-winning multi-million rand project, which will change the lives of our people forever,” she said.

Marawu said the opening of the road marked the realisation of former ANC president Oliver Tambo’s vision, when he told the February 1993 International Solidarity Conference that “we believe that we must stand together in creating the new South Africa. When our work is done, let all look at the new South Africa with hope and encouragement”.

Previously the only way to get from the Ncembu Plateau to the Langeni Sawmill was by using gravel roads that added up to 30km to the trip or with a footpath or cattle track down the escarpment.

Phase one was completed in 2004 while phase two was completed in May 2009. The section from the Langeni Sawmill to the R61 (phase three) is presently in its implementation phase and will be completed at the end of July. During the construction period, more than 500 jobs were created for the local community.

These jobs included work for 123 adult males, 103 adult females 154 youth males, 138 youth females and one male with a disability.

Marawu said R40m had been spent on wages for the local labourers, while R36m had been spent on procuring resources from local business enterprises.

“This project was planned to stimulate economic activity in the Ugie-Langeni area and envisaged increased production at the Langeni Sawmill due to increased afforestation.

“Ugie-Langeni was the flagship project for the province and formed part of the integrated five-year transport infrastructure plan and the provincial growth and development plan,” said Marawu.

She said skills transfer had taken place in different sections of the work. “More than R500000 was spent on generic and site-specific training, which included modules in business management, first aid training, HIV/Aids awareness and education and environmental management,” said Marawu.

Derek Luyt of the Public Service and Accountability Monitor, a Grahamstown-based service delivery watchdog, said the formulation of the Expanded Public Works Programmes (EPWP) had done a great deal in alleviating poverty among poor communities.

“We know that they (EPWP) are not permanent jobs but they are better than giving people social grants. In EPWP people gain skills as well,” said Luyt.

Marawu said the remaining challenge now was to sustain the infrastructure in order to ensure that future generations appreciated their efforts.

[ Story by Sithandiwe Velaphi appeared on Eyewitness News]