Cape Town - Upgrading the dangerous Moloto Road linking Gauteng to Limpopo and Mpumalanga is a top priority for government as it moves to implement a stimulus plan for road transport adopted by Cabinet, Transport Minister Blade Nzimande said on Tuesday.
The finance ministry has allocated R3.3 billion for upgrading the road, also known as the R573, which carries some 50 000 passengers daily and the South African National Road Agency (Sanral) is expected to match the sum in its own funding.
The project, which will see the Limpopo and Mpumalanga sections of the road upgraded, is expected to create 12 500 jobs over five years.
Other projects that will be given priority is upgrading the EB Cloete interchange between the N2 and the N3 in eThekwini, dubbed the "spaghetti junction" at a cost of R1.5 billion and adding additional lanes in the roads between Camperdown and Cato Ridge and between Camperdown and Lynnfield Parks.
The last two projects will respectively cost R1.5 billion and R1.2 billion.
In the Moloto Road project, the minister said three work packages would be rolled out in Limpopo and five in Mpumalanga in this financial year.
An accident involving a bus claimed six lives on the road this week.
Nzimande noted that immediate interventions have been made to improve safety along this route, including remarking of roads, speeding camera installations and marking centre lines to prevent drivers from straying into opposite direction lanes.
He said a new carriageway must be constructed due to higher traffic volumes and Sanral was in discussions with the New Development Bank on funding the estimated cost of R4.2 billion.
The minister left open the possibility of turning to the market for funding, an option that had earlier been off the table.
"We are going to be engaging stakeholders... [it] is still our intention."
Sanral said the R3.5 billion stimulus package provided by the government would see it put further funding of more than a R9 billion of its own towards projects, resulting in a R13.1 billion investment in critical and strategic road infrastructure.
African News Agency (ANA)