Mpumalanga residents protest at the Union Buildings demanding progress on the proposed Moloto Road and rail corridor. Picture: Jacques Naude African News Agency (ANA)
Mpumalanga residents protest at the Union Buildings demanding progress on the proposed Moloto Road and rail corridor. Picture: Jacques Naude African News Agency (ANA)

Demand for promised Moloto Road/rail project to become a reality now

By James Mahlokwane Time of article published Sep 14, 2020

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THE GOVERNMENT has been urged to make a start on the “long overdue” Moloto Road and rail corridor north-east of Pretoria.

Residents of the area in Mpumalanga said if this did not happen, communities using the route would continue to live in poverty.

They made their demands heard during a picket at the Union Buildings on Friday, where they called for answers on the empty promises on the proposed road upgrade and rail project.

The residents lamented the fact that promises made over the years by former Ministers of Transport, including Jeff Radebe, Sbu Ndebele, Dipuo Peters, Blade Nzimande (and others) to Fikile Mbalula today were yet to be fulfilled.

The group was assembled from Thembisile Hani, Dr JS Moroka and Elias Motsoaledi municipalities, three of six local municipalities in the Nkangala District of Mpumalanga.

They said communities in their areas would continue to be poor because investors were afraid of the R573 Moloto Road, known as the "Road of Death" because of the number of fatal accidents.

The Moloto Road stretches over 160km and spans three provinces - Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo. It is used by over tens of thousands of commuters daily. There have been plans over the years to upgrade it, including 67km of dual carriageway from Siyabuswa to Moloto.

Contacted for comment on the rail link that would ease pressure on the road, spokesperson for the Passenger Railway Agency of South Africa (Prasa) Nana Zenani said she could not speak on the status of the R34 billion development project because it was still in the hands of the Department of Transport.

Meanwhile, the department said it would comment on the matter in due course.

The plan was for 13 new train stations with the Koedoespoort rapid rail alignment consisting of 117km of dual track, modal integration points and various feeder routes, all linking to the Tshwane bus system.

Sam Masango, convener of the group, said in addition to this project not materialising over many years, the communities they represented also wanted the unbundling of the Putco bus contracts to local operators.

“Previous presidents and ministers presented on the Moloto rail corridor in the State of the Nation Addresses (SONA) and departmental budget speeches, and the matter has been debated in Parliament. The time to talk is now over; we now demand action from our government,” said Masango.

“The provision of all these services must be guided by the principle of B-BBEE, local economic empowerment, beneficiation and job creation,” he said.

The Moloto Road links Pretoria with Mpumalanga and Limpopo. Residents are now saying they want to see long promised improvements happen. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

“We demand that all the promises to our people through the Presidential Siyahlola visit (where the president interacts directly with communities and monitor government’s performance) and subsequent Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) programmes in our region be implemented immediately.”

Aside from transport, these include, among others, the provision of water and sanitation.

“We want the president to ensure that our communities do not wait for another decade… three feasibility studies on the Moloto rail have been done and millions (of rands) spent.

He commented that he did his matric in 2000 and now had a diploma in teaching, but despite all the promises, the Moloto project was yet to see the light of day.

He claimed every government department, including Treasury, was aware of this project, but they did not want to let it happen because “these are people eating from current contracts” of either providing transport or maintaining the roads.

“If nothing is going to be done, we are going to come all the way from Mpumalanga and camp here in Pretoria because our people are dying on the Moloto Road, and investors don’t find our home (region) attractive because it has poor road infrastructure and modes of transport.”

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