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Picture: 123RF/WASTESOUL
Picture: 123RF/WASTESOUL

We have been inundated by governmental plans and talk of rural economic development, but to date there is barely anything to show. If one is mentally present and incisively observant, one would be informed by common sense that sound, functional, safe road networks are pillars of any economy, be it urban or rural.

My agricultural economics lecturer at Mangosuthu University of Technology, SE Kubheka, would often advise us to not “put our eyes in our pockets”. That advice today is worth more than the whole syllabus he delivered. And having worked in the West for some years I witnessed what good, well maintained, safe road networks could do, particularly for farming communities.

As I was in the export and import division of the agricultural department, I saw the seamless transportation of agricultural products with no delays caused by the bad state of roads. This ensured that farmers were able to get premium prices for their products, with no extra costs incurred unnecessarily, and the rural economy was stable, if not booming.

Those at the helm of leadership should therefore focus on road maintenance and build quality roads in rural areas, and everything else will eventually fall into place. Sound, functional, well maintained, safe road networks will improve many other things, like agritourism, the delivery of farm-fresh produce to urban markets, and the creation of rural jobs, and decrease or reduce the urban influx, making rural areas more attractive and hospitable to all personnel in high demand, such as teachers and health professionals. This would boost and improve the rural economy and add value to the whole country financially and socially.

Sithembiso Malusi Mahlaba, Vryheid

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