Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters revealed that light motor vehicles were the biggest contributor - at 46 percent - to road crashes and passengers accounted for the highest number of fatalities at 37 percent. Picture: Phill Magakoe

Pretoria - The government will spend just over R34-billion on the development of the Moloto rail corridor – putting an end to the road of death.

According to initial estimates based on the feasibility study, R20bn will go towards a rapid rail service, R10bn on rail stock and another R1.8bn to improve the condition of the road that has claimed so many lives. A further R2.7bn will go towards upgrading several feeder roads along Moloto.

Transport Minister Dipuo Peters said it was painful to repeatedly pay condolences to people that lost their lives on Moloto Road.

Peters said it was time to show that government meant business.

The minister said the outcome of the process would be a rail service that was not for luxury. nor holiday, but built to ensure people reached their destinations safely.

The Transport Department signed the project over to the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) in Hatfield, Pretoria, yesterday. The occasion included the launch of the project implementation and management office at the Prasa headquarters.

It was attended by provincial authorities from Gauteng and Mpumalanga, as well as representatives of several municipalities, including Tshwane.

Prasa will develop the rail services, with Gauteng, Limpopo and Mpumalanga government overseeing the conversion of Moloto Road into a national road to be managed by the South African National Roads Agency Limited. Municipalities will attend to the feeder roads. There are also a number of programmes and initiatives to educate people along the corridor on road safety. “It is a project that will require all of us to hold hands and for the people in the region to be patient, understanding that there will be challenges along the way…,” said Peters.

The Moloto rail development corridor has been a long time in the making, starting in 2004 when the government of Mpumalanga launched a process to improve public transport offered to commuters who travel to Pretoria daily. A feasibility study was conducted in 2006 and 2007, which concluded that the project was feasible.

Although cabinet recognised the legitimate need of the commuters in the region for an improved transport service, government was not in a position to implement it due to financial constraints attributable to the global economic crisis at the time, Peters said. “There are many demand for social grants, education, housing and health services. Government has not been able to satisfy all the needs it encounters on a daily bases,” she stated.

There were also questions after the previous feasibility study on whether all possible options were properly investigated and considered. This led to a new feasibility study being conducted which will be completed by the end of this month.

Peters added this would be followed by an application to the Treasury for the funding of the next phase – the detailed design and implementation of the proposed rail development corridor.

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