From tragic past to a bright future

From tragic past to a bright future

The Free State province, known as the bread basket of the country  and is strategically placed at the centre of South Africa, promises much hope and prosperity given the numerous industries within the province, and traffic passing through it as it connects six provinces and one country.

During his State of the Province Address (SOPA) on Thursday, 29 February 2024, in Phuthaditjhaba Multi-Purpose Centre, Qwa-qwa; Premier Mr. Mxolisi Dukwana reflected on the past 30 years of democracy saying the country is from a tragic past, and 2024 marks a significant milestone of triumph of a hard- won freedom and democracy.

“It is a year that builds a bridge between our tragic past, encouraging present and a brighter future. And lest we forget, nothing about this freedom was ever free. Lives were lost, racism entrenched, households shattered and human rights crushed. With the birth of democracy, the stage was set to carve a path anchored firmly on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights,” said Dukwana.

The Premier acknowledge that the province has had its fair share of economic challenges, with the rate of unemployment rising and some industries struggling. Despite all the challenges, the province proved to be resilient in 2019 and 2022 with its contribution towards the national GDP stabilizing at 4.9 percent. Dukwana said the provincial economic growth rate recovered from -0, 1 percent to 1, 5 percent.

“Emphasis was now on economic recovery, job creation, and diversification to inspire the growth of other and new economic sectors.” He said.

Roads play a key role in any economy, to move goods, to invest in logistics and take advantage of its position in the country, the province needs to have good quality road infrastructure. Premier Mxolisi Dukwana said the provincial government will invest R1, 993 billion in upgrading and maintaining roads as part of Township Revitalization Programme and road maintenance.

“We escalated our roads construction and maintenance programme by transferring 568.75 km of road to SANRAL during October 2023. This includes the R26 between Ladybrand and Bethlehem, the R34 from the North West provincial border at Bloemhof to the KZN border at Vrede and the R74 from Harrismith to Oliviershoek (KZN border),” announced the Premier.

“In addition, we transferred 222.70 km earlier this month. These roads include the R700 between Bloemfontein and Bultfontein, the R710 between Bultfontein and Welkom, and the R30 between the R730 intersections north of Theunissen to Odendalsrus,” he continued.

Dukwana said the province has already begun with some of the projects during the 2023/24 financial year and they include:

Henneman – Kroonstad – Virginia · Viljoenskroon – Orkney · Senekal – Lindley · Lindley – Petrus Steyn · Zastron – Sterkspruit · Tweespruit – Excelsior · Senekal – Rosendal · Rosendal – Ficksburg · Koppies – Sasolburg · Sasolburg – Heilbron (Phase 2) · Jacobsdal – Koffiefontein · Tweespruit – Hobhouse · Qwaqwa Primary Roads (Setsing to Monontsha border, Matebeleng to Makgalaneng, Bolata Shopping Centre to Elizabeth Ross Hospital, Thiboloha to Maluti Bus Services, Riverside to Namahadi (Sekoto), Mmakong Village and Lusaka to Qholaqhwe Main Road).

He said some of the new projects expected to commence in the first quarter of 2024/25 financial year include:

Clocolan – Marquard · Ladybrand – Hobhouse · Dealesville – Hertzogville – Christiana border · Oppermansgronde upgrade of gravel to surface road.

“Gravel roads are important for economic and social development and R125 million is budgeted for gravelling of roads throughout the province. We have employed 650 youth through Operation Vala Zonke to speed up pothole repairs in our roads. This partnership with the Central University of Technology will also enhance our efforts to aggressively address skills development whilst maintaining our roads.

The joint Welisizwe Rural Bridge Programme with the South African National Defence Force to ensure accessibility in rural areas is ongoing. For our communities, these are the bridges of hope, pride and prosperity,” said Free State Premier Mr. Mxolisi Dukwana.


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