Financial administration of the road network in Natal.
De Sousa, Manuel Salvador.
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Man has always been a traveller and in the early days he followed the familiar and well-trodden routes. But man was always in search of the easiest route by following a direct line across a plain, the contours in hilly country or the course of a river. As the traffic developed, so did the function of the road for which the gradient and surface soon became important. Roads were provided as a means of moving people and goods, and as a means of communication. Throughout history, roads have been closely linked with conquest and with social and economic progress. The road infrastructure forms an integral part of the economic development of the country. The problems facing the road authorities can be summed up in one word - money. This problem became serious in 1973 with the initial oil crisis and was followed up by the rapid escalation of costs due to an adverse economical and political environment. As a result there was a reduction in the progress of new roads and a deterioration in the level of service provided by this facility. The aforementioned problem facing the provincial road authorities of a lack of funds to finance the provision and maintenance of the road network, provides a rationale for the area of study, namely the financial administration of the road network, which forms an integral part of the transport infrastructure, with specific reference to Natal. The provincial road network in Natal is funded and controlled by the Roads Branch of the Natal Provincial Administration, whilst the Department of Transport is responsible for the national road network. As a necessary prelude to the area of study, numerous preliminary details are investigated. Initially the development of Provincial Government is investigated. Thereafter the nature of public financial administration is discussed to provide an insight into the functions and processes of this administration. A theoretical perspective is provided on the budgeting systems which are currently in use. The development and classification of the road network in Natal is discussed and is followed by how the rural road network is administered. The current policies from a financial perspective, of the provision and maintenance of the provincial and national road network, is determined. It shows that there is a lack of adequate funds being provided to enable the road authorities to maintain a satisfactory level of service of the road network that is both economical and safe for the road user. The study is concluded with a few recommended strategies which will aid public administrators responsible for the provision and maintenance of the road network to gain an insight into making the most out of the limited resources. The recommended strategies cover the aspects of funding sources, financing policy, road network policy, budget control, and privatisation and deregulation. It is preferable for road financing to be attuned to what the country can afford, and the available road funds should be equitably and rationally distributed according to the physical planning needs. The most advantageous means of collecting money for the funding of road programmes is by means of a dedicated road fund which should be administered by a central road authority, namely the proposed South African Roads Board. It would be this Board's task to execute strategic and financial planning, and also monitor and co-ordinate the provision of roads, of the total road infrastructure in South Africa. The provincial road authorities will continue to execute the provincial road programmes, that is to design, construct and maintain the road network, and would include the national road network.