The R1bn is the first tranche of what is expected to go into a long process of rehabilitating the heavily potholed road. The road will also be transferred from the Department of Transport to Sanral to be incorporated into its portfolio of nontoll roads.
Tens of thousands of commuters travel by bus on the road to Gauteng each day, with fatal accidents a common occurrence. The government’s promises to upgrade the road over many years have failed to materialise. Department of Transport spokesman Tiyani Rikhotso said the upgrade 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.
An interdepartmental team was working on the details of a integrated rapid rail project, Mr Rikhotso said. Treasury officials informed MPs about the upgrade of the Moloto road during a briefing on Friday on the Division of Revenue Bill and the 2015 Appropriation Bill. They were adamant that the classification of the Moloto road as a nontoll road had nothing to do with the public resistance to the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project, saying it did not meet the criteria for a toll road.
Part of the R1bn for the road upgrade will come from a R149m reduction in the provincial roads maintenance grant. “The upgrade will be done by Sanral using funds reprioritised within the agency and from the provincial roads maintenance grant and the taxi recapitalisation programme,” the estimates of national expenditure released with the budget last week said.
Treasury budget office director Raquel Ferreira outlined how the R25bn reduction in the expenditure ceiling R10bn in 2015-16 and R15bn the next year would be achieved. “The pursuit of a specific priority will result in fewer resources being available for other priorities,” she said.