Unity-Vereeniging roads upgraded

Fifteen kilometres or 32 roads in the Unity-Vereeniging Neighbour-hood Democratic Council were recently upgraded with asphaltic concrete under the Community Road Improvement Programme (CRIP).

The Housing and Water and Local government ministries shared oversight of the US$18.7 CRIP of which $494,452,136 was invested at Unity-Vereeniging, a report from the Government Informa-tion Agency (GINA) said. The project was commissioned at a simple ceremony held on May 7th at the Helena Primary School.

In addition to the road works it entailed the cleaning, reshaping, upgrading and realignment of 29 km of roadside drains and the construction of new drains, rehabilitation of four bridges and the construction of six culverts, the provision of safety features such as signage, markings, speed humps and the construction of a new NDC building. To date, the 14,000-strong community has seen a 12 per cent increase in the flow of traffic since the works were completed, GINA said.

In his address at the commissioning, Housing Minister Irfaan Ali said the project aimed to improve the livelihoods of residents of regions Three, Four and Six and to improve their access to social infrastructure in the regions. The works within the NDC which were undertaken by contractor H Nauth and Son were on time and within budget, and the savings were used to do other works in the community, including the upgrading of the Lima Road and Unity Middle Walk South road.

The CRIP was catered for in this year’s national budget and provides for the upgrading of burial grounds in the NDCs, the cleaning of community infrastructure such as schools, grounds and playfields and the improving of community drainage and irrigation (D&I).

Ali also said that the Rural Development Fund (RDF) provides $1B for infrastructure development in rural communities for upgrades to roads, bridges, D&I and market facilities aimed at increasing business opportunities and the quality of life throughout villages. The RDF was also provided for in the 2014 budget.

Under the institutional development and capacity building aspect of the CRIP a new building for the Unity-Vereeniging NDC was built at a cost of $2,868,029. It was equipped with computer equipment and staff were trained in a number of areas including governance and road maintenance.

For the community awareness aspect of the project, volunteers were engaged in monitoring the road works, getting feedback from residents which were then communicated to NDC and the CRIP team.

Minister in the Ministry of Local Government, Normal Whittaker lauded all aspects of the project explaining that it aimed at getting the NDC and people “to reconnect” on topical issues, to the benefit of the entire community. “If people are involved with projects from the inception, and that involvement is not limited to just being aware of the project…they feel a sense of ownership of the project and want to ensure that the project last and therefore the cost of the project is spread over a longer period of time,” he said.

The ministry aims to equip all 65 NDCs with computers and trained staff in their use by the end of 2015, GINA said.

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