Residents of KwaMhlanga and Moloto in Mpumalanga are angered over the delay in getting the Moloto Rail Corridor project off the ground. The R60 billion project was announced by the government in 2006.
The long-awaited Moloto rail corridor seems to have been just a dream. First touted in 2004.it has yet to get off the ground. Transport Minister, Fikile Mbalula says the project is unaffordable.
The project has long been in the pipeline. Initiated in 2004. it was approved by Cabinet in 2008 following two feasibility studies but was shelved due to a lack of funds.
Government then announced a R34 billion budget for its construction in 2014. And in 2016 the community was reassured when a co-operation agreement was signed by the government with China to build the rail corridor
To date, nothing’s been done. The residents say they want action.
“From work until home, I do not use a taxi, it is only bus. So, when it’s train, I have to use cash and ticket for the train – so I don’t think the train is good for me,” one resident says.
“The only thing that they must do is just to extend that road because sometimes the train will wait at the robot for too long. I don’t like a train, I don’t want to lie,” laments another one.
“I think it is safer and more convenient regardless of the accidents that occur frequently,” a resident says.
Mpumalanga residents protest outside Union Buildings over Moloto rail project delay:
Mbalula explains: “President [Jacob] Zuma in the 5th administration announced in the state of the nation that we’re going to build the rail corridor. We promised those people – that is true – black and white it’s there. In Hindsight it can’t be erased by the ink. I don’t know even from where we did – we said we’re going to build a corridor – it’s like me coming here today in this budget vote and say that I’m going to bring heaven to earth”.
Recently irate residents staged pickets at the Union Buildings. Moloto Corridor concerned resident, Sam Masango says, “Government is presiding over genocide because if the government had implemented what they promised the people, what they’ve approved themselves in 2016; today we should be talking about a greater infrastructure project that has dealt with unemployment, that has created many jobs, number of people would have been finding somethings to go to bed with but there is nothing.”
Carnages on the infamous road have claimed hundreds of lives and left many injured over the years.
Last week, six people died after a bus they were travelling in caught fire on the road.
Mbalula however says the project won’t be utterly abandoned. “At the present moment, we’re investing over R2 billion on the road expansion in the Moloto Corridor that’s what we’re doing. Rail is something that we will explore and we’re not throwing it out of the window.”
Economist and author, Victor Kgomoeswana says the project is long overdue and that government is obliged to deliver as promised.
“It has to be done; it is not something we should even argue about. When you see the volume of traffic on that road and the number of people on both sites of the road in Dennelton, KwaNdebele or areas like that who work in Pretoria and commute daily and people who live in Pretoria and work in those areas; that traffic justifies everything that this rail road project is about. Remember it will people to be even more productive while they travel, which they can’t do while they’re driving.”