Failure by the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport to spend the R182 million earmarked for the upgrading of the accident-prone Moloto Road spelled disaster for motorists and pedestrians.
This was the sentiment expressed by DA provincial transport spokesperson Janho Engelbrecht during his visit in Kameeldrift East, north of Pretoria, on Thursday.
Engelbrecht said the unspent millions were given to the department by the Treasury as a conditional grant to be used in the 2018/2019 financial year.
However, when the amount could not be utilised as planned, the department was legally bound to return it to the Treasury.
He called for government to urgently see to it that it expanded the single-lane road into double lanes.
“We are here to see for ourselves the state of the road so that we can have a better understanding when we go and look into the reasons why department returned the budget despite that many times it was indicated that the road would be upgraded.”
He also pointed fingers at former MEC Dr Ismail Vadi, accusing him of having made empty promises in 2015 that the road would be upgraded in over a period of three years.
The Pretoria News has seen Vadi’s written answer submitted at the Gauteng Legislature following questions asked by a DA member regarding the time-frame to upgrade the road.
In addition, the DA blamed the provincial government of refusing to transfer the road to the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral), which proposed to take it over.
Engelbrecht said: “Limpopo and Mpumalanga have handed over their share of this road to Sanral, which has invested R3.7 billion in the project, while the Gauteng share has not yet received any budget allocation.”
He said it was ironic that the department was refusing to hand over Moloto Road while it didn’t have the maintenance budget for it.
The DA’s finance spokesperson in the province Adriana Randall said the road was dangerous to inhabi- tants of a nearby informal settlement.
“It is very congested and difficult for pedestrians from Plot 174 and 175 informal settlements to commute to and from the area.
“Many side-roads are interlinked with this ‘road of death’.
“Furthermore, there is a massive development in the east of Tshwane which will add enormous pressure to this road,” she said.
Departmental spokesperson Theo Nkonki said Moloto Road was at a design phase, and that the DA’s claim about the unspent millions was a fabrication.
He refuted that the department declined assistance from Sanral to take over the road development.
Nkonki said the Sanral had developed a plan for Moloto Road, which it sold to Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Gauteng.
Both Limpopo and Mpumalanga agreed to the plan because they didn’t have funds for the road maintenance, he said.
Gauteng, Nkonki said, didn’t agree because it had an ongoing rail project along Moloto Road.
“The rail project and Moloto complement each other.
“We said to Sanral we can’t give you the road, but we can appoint you as implementers.”
He said Sanral was busy with the road design and the implementation was projected to start next year.