Moloto Road: Chiefs threaten to resign if premier fails to act

2013-11-15 16:07

Mpumalanga traditional chiefs have threatened to resign from the provincial house of traditional leaders if government does not announce concrete plans to deal with the carnage on the notorious R573 Moloto road.

This was announced by Mpumalanga Provincial House of Traditional Leaders deputy chairperson Inkosi Sipho Mahlangu during the memorial service of 30 dead bus commuters at Machiri near Groblersdal today.

The service was attended by about 1?000 people which included relatives, government officials and Putco bus company representatives. The 30 commuters died during an accident on Monday – which involved a Putco bus, a truck, a tipper truck and a van.

Mahlangu said the chiefs leading communities in the former KwaNdebele area, through which Moloto road runs, wanted the Moloto rail project to be implemented.

National government proposed the project many years ago, but it appears to have been shelved and the subject only comes up when there is another accident on the road.

The project was discussed during a parliamentary monitoring group meeting in June and the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa was accused by parliamentarians of focusing more on urban than rural areas.

“Premier [David Mabuza], traditional leaders say they will rather resign [from the house of traditional leaders] if they hear no word from you about this problem by January next year,” said Mahlangu.

“In actual fact, we’ve been told about a Moloto feasibility study since the days of the homeland government. We’re now 20 years into democracy and this matter is still being discussed,” he said.

Mahlangu spoke after Limpopo Roads and Transport MEC Lehlogonolo Masoga who said government had no other choice but to implement the rail project.

Masoga said it was impossible to build a freeway on Moloto road because it passed through villages.

“We, as Mpumalanga and Limpopo, must demand the rail project. Talk about this project has been there since time immemorial and I say to you, Premier [Mabuza], let’s deliver Moloto rail in our lifetime. It will become a monument to honour our fallen brothers and sisters,” Masoga said.

Mabuza said he would not respond during the service, but would convene a meeting of all stakeholders at a later stage.

“But let me say that enough is enough ... this road is causing us pain. We must blame how we do things. Drivers are impatient and flout traffic rules and regulations. We can have traffic cops, but we can’t have them at every point,” Mabuza said.

A mass funeral will be held on Sunday.

Putco spokesperson, Romeo More, said the company had set aside R510 000 or R17 000 per family to assist with funeral costs.

He said Putco buses were in a good condition and the company was proactively identifying bad drivers and retraining them.

“We discipline them, but a speck of something bad spoils the whole picture. The company looks seriously at maintenance and we deploy inspectors at strategic places to monitor the speed of our drivers. Presently, 80% of our fleet is new,” More said.

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