Moloto residents camped at Union Buildings demand railway line
By James Mahlokwane 7m ago
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Pretoria – Representatives from three Mpumalanga municipalities spent Christmas and New Year camping out at the Union Buildings demanding that the government commit itself to building the long-promised Moloto Rail Project.
The group, representing people in Thembisile Hani, Dr JS Moroka and Elias Motsoaledi municipalities, said people from the Kingdom of KwaNdebele had been promised the development project many years ago but it had still not been started. The R34 billion Passenger Railway Agency (Prasa) rail corridor was projected to reduce travel time, save lives as commuters were moved off the Moloto Road, and to create jobs and development through the building of 13 new stations linking Mpumalanga and Tshwane.
Sam Masango, who leads the group calling itself the Moloto Corridor Concerned Residents, said no amount of Christmas and New Year’s Eve fun was worth more than the struggle to have a rail link that would create progress and be an alternative to the “killer Moloto Road”.
The Moloto Road stretches over 160km and spans three provinces – Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo. Pre-Covid it was used by over 60 000 commuters daily.
Masango said that even over this festive season accidents on the Moloto Road could have been avoided if the government had delivered on the project that had already cost taxpayers’ a lot of money sending officials overseas to consult on it.
“We have been sending information about the accidents to Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula because we don’t trust the stats from the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC),” Masango said.
“This project is very important to our people because our people are suffering.
“President Cyril Ramaphosa visited the kings of many kingdoms but he did not go to our kings in KwaNdebele. We are wondering if we don’t matter as much?
“Our people have been waiting for this project for so long but it has not happened,” he said.
Masango said they had been waiting since September and had seen over 27 organisations submit their memoranda to a representative at the Union Buildings thus they were not going anywhere until they were convinced the project would start.
He said an official in the Presidency had told them there would be an opportunity to accept their memorandum. However, he said his people would only leave once there was an official sod-turning event at the site and there was a commitment to fund the project as had happened with the Gautrain.
“This is a service delivery issue and nothing more or less. Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu knows about this project because he was once an MEC in Mpumalanga. Pravin Gordhan (Minister of Public Enterprises) also knows about this project as he was the minister of finance,” Masango said.
“President Cyril Ramaphosa allocated a lot of money to build the Mooikloof Mega City and in doing so they removed our project from the Presidential Infrastructure (list) and Mooikloof was put in there. It’s like our poor people do not matter.”
According to the Prasa website, the Moloto Rail Project’s main objective is to ensure that passenger rail is “the backbone of an integrated multi-modal transport system using proven state of the art rolling stock and equipment”.
“In addition, this rail project will serve as a catalyst for economic development initiatives within and around the Corridor resolving challenges of safety, efficiency, reliability, affordability and overall integration with other public transport services.”