Moloto Rail Corridor: Government goes back to Square One

James Masango MPL

Provincial Chief Whip of the Official Opposition

On Sunday, Transport minister Dipuo Peters confirmed what the DA has suspected for years, and that is that the Moloto Rail Corridor would not be implemented soon, despite government’s hollow reassurances to the contrary.

Nowhere in the minister’s prepared speech does she make in many mention that the programme would be fast-tracked. If anything, her off the cuff remarks that houses had been built along the originally approved route and that the findings of the initial feasibility study are no longer valid, clearly shows a government at odds with itself over implementing this project.

While the DA welcomes the minister’s remarks that more attention should be paid to the R573 and the factors behind it being an unsafe road, we are concerned that this would in effect mean that the Moloto Road and the proposed Moloto Rail Corridor are back to Square One.

New feasibility studies have to be initialised to establish whether the initial rail route could still be followed, whether households have to be moved, (and to provide people decent housing and accompanying service delivery infrastructure), and whether a new route will have to be plotted.

Furthermore, an intensive feasibility study and traffic analysis of the R573 has to be conducted and a decision made whether to build an entirely new road, capable of carrying thousands of vehicles per day. Of course attention should be paid to funding mechanisms, as the last thing this impoverished corner of South Africa needs is, is a four-lane freeway subject to e-tolls.

It is concerning that after a decade of empty promises and millions wasted on feasibility studies, pre-feasibility studies and pre-pre-feasibility studies, government has reached the decision to do everything all over again.

Does this mean that the people of this remote part of South Africa have to wait another decade, perhaps even more, before they finally have a safe way of getting to and from work? Will people be forced to wait another decade for decent economic opportunities and job creation?

The fact is, the ANC-led government were quick to promise the implementation of the Moloto Rail Corridor, but never committed to it. This time round the people know the truth, and will not be fooled twice.