Changes coming to Gauteng include new alcohol rules and highway upgrades

Gauteng premier David Makhura presented his state of the province address (SOPA) on Tuesday (23 February), detailing the projects underway in the province.

Makhura touched on a number of areas including infrastructure, job creation and transportation – with most of the issues focusing on the province’s economic recovery following Covid-19 lockdown.

The premier warned that the province is still grappling with the pandemic, and cautioned over a potential third Covid-19 wave in winter.

He added that the roll-out of vaccines will be key to preventing further waves.

“… Vaccines constitute the decisive weapon against pandemics. The vaccination plan has to be rolled out urgently and massively to save lives and enabled the economy to recover fully.

“We have come a long way in building a credible response and there is no time for complacency and cynicism. We need to put our country, our province and the people above any petty professional rivalries and political squabbles.”

In Gauteng alone, over 400 000 people contracted Coronavirus, while almost 10 000 succumbed to the respiratory disease.


Alcohol 

Makhura said that 2021 will see a review and tightening of regulations governing the sale of alcohol in Gauteng.

He said that these rules will aim to curb road fatalities, particularly in the three metropolitan municipal areas of Tshwane, Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni, which collectively account for 82% of all road fatalities in the province.

This follows comments made by the premier over the weekend, in which he noted that the illegal sale of alcohol is a major problem in the province.

“This year we are going to review all the regulations governing the sale of liquor because some of the outlets that are selling liquor in our communities are located just next to our schools, next to Early Childhood Development centres.

“So we want to regulate, tighten the regulations of the sale of alcohol, which is part of the long-term response to dealing with crime,” he said.

Makhura’s comments also come after the Western Cape provincial government said that it plans to introduce formal regulations to reduce alcohol abuse in the country.

Speaking in his state of the province address on Wednesday (17 February), Western Cape premier Alan Winde said that the economic damage caused by the national ban on alcohol sales during the Covid-19 lockdown was unsustainable.

However, he said that the provincial data showed that there are clear problems with alcohol abuse in the country.

“That is why we are instead pursuing more targeted interventions by amending the Western Cape Liquor Act. These amendments will directly and indirectly reduce alcohol harms, as well improve the efficiency of the Western Cape Liquor Authority,” he said.


Transport 

Makhura said that the province will introduce a single ticket for all modes of transport in Gauteng by the end of this financial year.

Announced in last year’s SOPA, the system will see commuters using buses, taxis, trains (including the Gautrain) provided with single ticket.

The idea of a single-ticket system was first mooted in 2017, while a similar system was trialled in Pretoria by the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) for minibus taxi commuters in 2016.

The premier also announced a commitment to construct and rehabilitate 18 arterial roads to integrate and improve the movement of goods and services in the province.

“Limited activity in the construction sector due to Covid-19 slowed down some infrastructure projects,” he said.

“However, we are pleased that the construction of phase 2 of the N14 has been completed as well as the R28 that connects the West Rand and Sedibeng districts.

“Substantial work is also underway to patch, rehabilitate and resurface major roads that were affected by the recent heavy rains.”

Makhura said that his provincial government is moving ahead with the plan to expand the footprint of the Gautrain to the Eastern, Western and Southern parts of the province.


Industrial cannabis? 

In response to the president’s economic recovery plan, Makhura said that the provincial government will focus on ‘high-growth priority sectors’ and infrastructure investment projects.

These will unlock the transformation, modernisation and re-industrialisation of the different corridors and districts in the city region.

Makhura said these sectors are:

  • Automotive, Aerospace and Defence;
  • Transportation and logistics;
  • ICT and digital services with a focus on the gig economy;
  • Energy, with a focus on new technologies and diversifying the energy mix;
  • Tourism and Hospitality;
  • Food, Beverages, Agro-processing, and agribusiness;
  • Construction and Infrastructure;
  • Financial services;
  • Cultural and creative services;
  • Industrial Cannabis.

Technology 

Makhura said that the province will introduce the Gauteng Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) Growth and Digitalisation Strategy.

He said that the number of initiatives will be included as part of this strategy, including:

  • Reliable connectivity that provides inclusive access, supports new business, creates new players and markets, and improves government services.
  • Improve Gauteng’s competitive positioning through 4IR and other technologies.
  • Improve research, development, and innovation.
  • Develop skills for the future of work.
  • New approaches  to  developing policies,  frameworks,  and standards  (e.g. interoperability, privacy, and security) in the context of a rapidly changing world.

Read: Western Cape wants South Africa to introduce a new ‘remote working’ visa

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Changes coming to Gauteng include new alcohol rules and highway upgrades