Despite promises, construction of Moloto Rail Corridor remains uncertain

James Masango MP

Provincial Chairperson: Mpumalanga:

On Friday, Premier Mabuza announced that the Moloto Rail Corridor Development programme had been approved and was ready to proceed. He also went on to detail how the Moloto Rail Corridor would be a catalyst for stimulating economic growth and job creation.

However, it appears that the construction of the Moloto Rail Corridor is in actual fact a pipe dream as during the tabling of the 2015/16 budget speech, Finance Minister, Nhlanhla Nene, allocated R1.1 billion for the upgrade of road Moloto Road to improve its safety and mobility.

The funds to upgrade the Moloto Road have been allocated to the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) which will, over the next three years, rehabilitate the road and incorporate it into the portfolio of nontoll roads.

In recent media reports, Department of Transport spokesperson Tiyani Rikhotso, stated that the upgrade of the road did not mean that the plan for an integrated rapid rail system on the Moloto development corridor had been shelved, but funding constraints and the carnage on the road meant that road safety had to be prioritised in the first phase.

This means that, while Sanral sets out to execute its task of upgrading the road, the actual Moloto Rail Corridor that the people of Thembisile Hani and Dr JS Moroka municipality were promised and have been waiting for, for over a decade will not materialise in the near future. The economic growth and job opportunities promised by Premier Mabuza are also unlikely to materialise.

If the government is unable to deliver on its more than a decade old promise to the people of Mpumalanga, they should come clean instead of attempting to mislead them. To this end, we will write parliamentary questions to Transport Minister, Dipuo Peters asking for a detailed plan of the Moloto Rail Corridor Development programme. We will also request our colleagues at the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature to put questions to the Premier in order for him to clarify his statement.

While the safety of Moloto Road users is vital, stalling the construction of the railway line will not benefit the road users. Until the railway is developed, Moloto road will continue to be burdened with a heavy amount of traffic along with countless unreliable busses.

It’s imperative that government delivers on its promise of a railway line as to improve the lives of Moloto Road users. The DA will monitor the upgrade of the Moloto road closely and ensure that when complete, it does become a nontoll road as promised.