Guest Column

Fikile Mbalula: Sanral intervention to curb carnage on Moloto road

2019-11-14 08:44
The scene of the fatal accident on Moloto Road on Monday. (Supplied)

The scene of the fatal accident on Moloto Road on Monday. (Supplied) (Emer-G-Med)

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Improving the physical safety of the country's roads is Sanral's job. However, the improvement of the physical infrastructure should not in itself be seen as panacea for all the challenges we face on this roads, writes Fikile Mbalula.

This week, two people lost their lives and 36 were injured when a bus veered off the infamous Moloto road and overturned. A single death on our roads is one death too many. It inflicts pain in families, leaves behind permanent scars in the affected communities, not to mention the children who are orphaned as a result. This is the tragic story of the Moloto road.

It is a rather strange twist of irony that this tragedy occurs days before the Gauteng government transfers the last remaining section of the road to the South African National Roads Agency, Sanral. In 2015, the Provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga transferred their respective sections to Sanral.  

On Friday, the Premier of Gauteng, David Makhura, will formally sign over the transfer of the road, enabling Sanral to proceed with the upgrades on the totality of the road. The upgrade of this road will demonstrate how provinces, collaborating with the national Department of Transport and its agency Sanral, can work together to arrest the carnage on our roads.  

Upgrades on the already incorporated sections started in 2016 and are well underway. As the road traverses three provinces, managed by three different road authorities, there were difficulties in maintaining it to the same standard. Placing it under a single authority, Sanral, will go a long way towards ensuring that the road is maintained on the same standards.

READ | Sanral gets R7bn from Brics to improve toll roads

Government has committed to invest in excess of R4.5bn on the Moloto road to improve its safety. This is a demonstration of government’s commitment to improving the lives of citizens by implementing interventions that will ensure their safety on the road.  Communities along the Moloto road have, over the years, petitioned government to take decisive action in improving their safety when commuting on the road. With this final section of the road having been transferred to Sanral, we will move with speed to ensure that the work on the road is not unduly delayed.

Indeed, the number of crashes on the Moloto road remains a cause for serious concern, hence the investment in improving the safety features of this particular road. Studies and investigations have been conducted on the causes of accidents on this road and human behaviour such as reckless driving, over-speeding, drinking and driving play a significant contributing role. Lack of visibility of traffic officials along the route emboldens some motorist to break the law with impunity.  

The launch of our 365-day Action Agenda through which we will ensure traffic law enforcement becomes a 24-hour activity every day of the week will see visibility of traffic officials improve, amongst other interventions. We will similarly strengthen our efforts in ensuring that those who put the lives of other road users at harm’s way will face the full might of the law.  

It has also been established that the manner in which the road is engineered may not be forgiving to a road user who makes a mistake on the road. High traffic volumes on this road coupled with high pedestrian activity and stray animals crossing the road contribute immensely to the high number of crashes. This is further compounded by a number of illegal crossing points leading directly to the road from the adjacent settlements or trading areas along the road.

Improving the physical safety of the road is the focus of the Sanral upgrades. These include adding more lanes, introducing roundabouts to reduce conflict points and crash severity, building of new intersections, improving capacity of the road through the addition of a second carriageway, widening of bridges, construction of median barriers, building of safe pedestrian and public transport facilities, provision of street lighting and closing some direct accesses and replacing these with service roads. 

However, the improvement of the physical infrastructure should not in itself be seen as panacea for all the challenges we face on this road. A multi-pronged approach is needed if we are to find lasting solutions to the Moloto road safety challenges. The increasing traffic volumes on this road continue to pose new challenges that come with a congested road. 

The work we are doing in improving safety on the Moloto road through engineering solutions is an integral part of our efforts to arrest the carnage on our roads. The 365-Days Action Agenda, through which we will drive our interventions, is an action plan that seeks to re-imagine road safety in South Africa and capture the imagination of the nation, through unconventional interventions that seek to primarily transform road user behavior.

We remain convinced that the most effective way to address congestion, the proposed rail solution should be given impetus. My department is treating the rail corridor project as a priority after a number of false starts. Indeed, we are alive to the fiscal constraints, and we are hard at work to find solutions that will ensure that the rail project sees the light of the day without placing undue burden on the fiscus. 

- Fikile Mbalula is the Minister of Transport.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

Read more on:    sanral  |  fikile mbabula  |  road safety  |  road accidents
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