Pretoria - As the death toll mounts on the notorious Moloto Road, parties have called for the implementation of the much-delayed Moloto rail corridor as the only solution to the carnage.
The 130km-long mass transport system has been touted by the government as an integrated scheme for commuters between the western regions of Mpumalanga and Gauteng, north-east of Pretoria.
Extending condolences to the families of those killed in Monday’s accident, the chairwoman of Parliament’s portfolio committee on transport, Ruth Bhengu, said: “The committee shares their heartache and is saddened that so many lives continue to be lost on South African roads.
“Accidents not only impact negatively on their families but on the country.”
Bhengu said the implementation of the Moloto rail corridor project would go a long way to solving the high number of accidents on that stretch of road.
It would also give commuters an alternative service, rather than to rely on one mode of transport, despite the risks.
The committee believes that government investment in transport infrastructure development is part of the solution to road accidents.
“But the government alone cannot solve this problem. It also requires communities to become more responsible and respect traffic laws,” said Bhengu.
President Jacob Zuma has also expressed his shock at the latest incident.
“This carnage must stop. It is completely unacceptable. The fact that this particular road has gained notoriety for the deaths of people means there’s something wrong that we need to address together. We therefore urge witnesses to assist the investigation,” said Zuma.
The president wished the injured a speedy recovery and sent condolences on behalf of the government and all South Africans to the families of those who lost their lives.
AgangSA said to appreciate the extent of the devastation such accidents caused, one needed to think of the number of families left grieving, the many children left without parents and the hardship that lay ahead for them after the loss of breadwinners.
“The time for so-called high-level investigations… has long gone. Everything that’s wrong with this road has been well-documented for ages - including narrowness, potholes, congestion and over-speeding,” said the party’s Moeketsi Mosola.
“The staggering truth about this is that, in most instances, the government spends more money on subsidising bus transport for the people commuting from the western regions of Mpumalanga to work in Pretoria than what they actually earn in wages,” said Mosola.
He also called for the speedy implementation of the rail corridor.
James Masango, DA provincial chairman in Mpumalanga, said: “Local residents often refer to it as the ‘road of death’. It carries more than 50 000 commuters every day.”
It was absolutely critical that the government made a concerted effort to implement the Moloto rail corridor project to alleviate the pressure on this road, he said.
Approved in 2008, the corridor would not only improve the safety of commuters, Masango said, but would also lay the groundwork for increased economic growth and job creation in the region.
“For the past few months the DA has been circulating a petition calling for the corridor’s implementation. We will continue to do so until we have sufficient signatures to submit it to Parliament,” he said.
The ANC Youth League sent its condolences to the families and friends of the victims. The league’s spokesman, Dr Bandile Masuku, said: “We are not interested in knowing how the accident happened as there will be many excuses from all involved.
“What we need is a commitment from the SA Bus Operators Association (Saboa) and the Road Freight Association (RFA) that they will talk to their members to frequently re-skill their drivers.
“Also, to ensure that all the trucks and buses are kept in proper roadworthy condition at all times,” he said.
ACDP MP Cheryllyn Dudley conveyed the party’s condolences and called on traffic authorities to launch an investigation into the cause of the accident. She said about 50 000 people commuted to work in Pretoria daily along the Moloto Road, with about 635 buses using the route.