‘Road of death’ to be one of hope
In this regard, community members along the stretch of road linking Mpumalanga with Limpopo and Gauteng have been urged to reap the economic spin-offs.
They have been invited to contact their local authorities for employment opportunities. Contractors registered with the Construction Industry Development Board and National Treasury’s central supplier database have been advised to be on the lookout for tender advertisements in newspapers on the website of the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral).
The upgrade, which covers at least 139km of the 160km stretch of Moloto Road - considered to be one of the country’s dangerous, yet busiest and important economic routes - has entered the third phase.
The road is old, with narrow widths, ageing infrastructure and signs that do not accommodate the volumes of traffic on it.
The first phase phase of construction, which started in 2016, included the construction of temporary bypasses and the upgrading of the main carriageway between Siyabuswa and Marble Hall.
There was also an upgrade of four priority intersections, of which three were converted to traffic circles and the other into a butterfly intersection in Mpumalanga.
“With the project planned for the next four to six years, there are still more phases to be completed, which will require much labour, translating into more job opportunities for community members.
“There are several planned upgrades along the R573 three more construction work packages for Limpopo and five for Mpumalanga will be rolled out.
“There will also be three community development projects in Limpopo and another five in Mpumalanga, which include upgrading of access roads among other identified activities,” said Progress Hlahla, regional manager for Sanral.
“These activities will target SMMEs and the Construction Industry Development Board which are seeking opportunities to learn and attain formal South African Qualifications Authority-accredited level 3 and 4 qualifications as well as growth,” Hlahla said.
The project was launched by former transport minister Dipuo Peters, who said the “road of death” would become the road of hope once the work was completed.
The upgrade, undertaken by Sanral, aims to increase safety and reduce the countless number of deaths and accidents that characterised it.
The upgrade includes dual lanes and round-about circles at intersections, aimed to benefit at least 5000 people in the small construction business sector as well as the labour force in general.
Hlahla said that so far 203 SMMEs had received training to better equip them when bidding for tenders. “Sanral established that local SMMEs have little exposure to the tendering process which disadvantages them when responding to bids.
“The training covered quality in construction, contracting and documentation, team management, pre-cast concrete kerbing, brick paving, basic tendering processes and entrepreneurial skills.”
Statistics from January 2012 to May 2014 showed that there were 489 crashes on Moloto Road, resulting in 158 fatalities and 594 serious injuries.
The road was incorporated into the Sanral network in 2015 and became part of the non-tolled portfolio.
It is used by an estimated 150000 people daily, travelling to work in Pretoria in more than 600 buses, most of them owned by Putco. The buses travel at high speeds along a narrow, potholed road.
In November 2013, 30 people were killed in an accident between a bus and a truck near Kwaggafontein, and more recently, a collision on Moloto Road in the Kameeldrift area just north of Pretoria, involving a bus, a tipper truck and a 3-ton truck left five people seriously injured.
The government is also looking at introducing a rail network along the Moloto Road corridor.