Picture: African News Agency (ANA)
Johannesburg -The design and construction of the Moloto Rail Corridor project is set to start once funding has been secured following reprioritisation in the ­government.

To date, no funds have been transferred to the transport departments of Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo for the project. This is according to Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, who revealed this in a written response to a parliamentary question from the DA’s Thamsanqa Mabhena.

Mabhena also asked about public consultation and the feasibility study on the project - which involves building a railway along the R573 Moloto Road to ferry commuters between Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Gauteng - and which has long been in the pipeline.

In 2016 it was reported that South Africa had signed a co-operation agreement with the People’s Republic of China to build the Moloto Rail Development Corridor. In his response, Mbalula said rapid rail provided the most feasible long-term solution to address the transport challenges being experienced in the Moloto corridor.

“Construction of the rail line can only be undertaken once the detailed design has been concluded, and the required funding has been secured,” he said.

Mbalula said that his department had so far spent R17 million on the ­feasibility study into the project’s development. A total of R10199673 was spent in the 2013-14 and R7680457 in the 2014-15 financial years on the feasibility study, which was concluded in October 2014.

“The feasibility study considered the main axis of commuter movements in the study area along the R573 Moloto Road and R568 serving the numerous settlements between Moloto village and Siyabuswa,” he said.

“The feasibility study concluded that the preferred solution was a 117km Rapid Rail line on the line-haul section, a fleet of 226 40-seater buses to provide the feeder and distribution services, and 46 train sets to reduce the current 4-hour peak to 2 hours at operating speeds of 120km/* on a Cape gauge network,” Mbalula said.

Imbizos have been conducted with the Siyabuswa, KwaMhlanga, Moloto and surrounding communities.

On the public hearings, Mbalula said no money had been spent by his department, as the National Road Agency Limited, Road Accident Fund and Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa paid the costs.

Political Bureau