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By Dimakatso Modipa

Traditional healers burned imphepho during the oversight inspection of K69 road upgrade in Mamelodi, Tshwane photo by Dimakatso Modipa

MEC for Roads and Transport in Gauteng Kedibone Diale-Tlabela handed the Solomon Mahlangu Road to the community of Mamelodi on Thursday morning and expressed joy that the construction of the road had finally been completed.

Diale- Tlabela was addressing the guests during the oversight visit of the K69 road upgrade in Mamelodi Tshwane.

Pastors, traditional healers prayed for the road. Traditional healers also burned mphepho on the road and talking to ancestors to prevent accidents in the road.

Diale-Tlabela described the construction of the road as a difficult and problematic project which gave her department nightmares.

“Today we are here to open the road for traffic flow and the only thing that is left now is to finalise the sidewalks and pavements,” she said.

“We are saying to the people of Mamelodi and Gauteng that here is the road that you have been waiting for and hope you will work hand in hand with the Department of Roads and Transport in Gauteng for future road infrastructure projects,” she said.

She pointed out that there is another road project in Mamelodi, called the K54, which has not been completed due to illegal land occupation but said the illegal squatters will be relocated by the City of Tshwane Human Settlements Department by the end of June this year.

Diale-Tlabela emphasised that stopping construction of projects delays progress and affects the economy and livelihood of the community.

Pastor Semetshane preaching the words of God during the K69 road upgrade project in Mamelodi, Tshwane photo by Dimakatso Modipa

She admitted the fact that constructing the K69 Solomon Mahlangu Road was not an easy project as her department had to deal with issues like non-performance of contractors and low budgeting of the project.

Diale-Tlabela appealed to the community of Mamelodi not burn tyres on the new road when they are angry with service delivery issues and revealed that as the K69 road is a provincial road, her department can’t do paving on it.

She also appealed to the community not to set up car wash projects next to the road as that creates problems for her department.

“Stop signs won’t be suitable on the road and we are going to install traffic lights, but I hope these won’t be stolen and vandalised as they cost the department lots of money, which is something that can be avoided,” she said.

“The community must also take care of the new road and as the department we will also make sure that the road is secured though this will come at a cost to the department.

“We are saying to criminals you are creating problems for us as a community and the government and we are getting impatient with criminals now,” said Diale-Tlabela.

“We install traffic lights today but after two days they are stolen or vandalised,” she said.

She said the delay in constructing the road was that it was under-budgeted and given to the lowest bidder in terms of the Public Finance Management rules, only to find out later that the low amount is not adequate for the project.

“We have followed the letter and spirit of the procurement process to make sure that the process is carried through as originally envisaged.

She revealed that road infrastructure projects bring about assassinations as contesting parties’ squabble over contracts.

Diale-Tlabela said the situation on the K69 Road project were not conducive at all with continued work stoppages to the extent that the department considered abandoning the project all together but had to push through to make sure the project is completed as abandoning it would have cost more money than carrying it through to completion.

“Originally, 24 months was supposed to be spent on the project which started in June 2019 and was supposed to have been completed on 17 June 2021, so that it means it took us around five years to complete it,” lamented Diale-Tlabela.

She said another factor was that when the road was originally designed, the present shacks and settlements were not there in the area and the whole road had to be redesigned in accordance with the present situation, which cost the department lots of money.

The original cost of the contract in 2019 was R285 million but right now we have spent R600 million due to the aforesaid adjustments.

Due to perennial accidents on many roads, pastors, bishops and traditional healers prayed on the road to be safe for those who will be using it.

“To date, the project has seen 93 SMMEs, Qualified Small Enterprises (QSEs), and Emerging Micro Enterprises (EMEs) awarded work opportunities,” said MEC Diale-Tlabela.

MEC Diale-Tlabela also thanked interfaith communities for their participation and assistance towards the completion of this important project.

“I wish to extend my words of gratitude to all the religious and interfaith communities who participated in today’s event. As government, we understand that through your participation and involvement, there’ll be
peace in our communities,” she said.

The road upgrade, spanning approximately 9km, is almost 98% complete, begins at Road R104 and extends northwards, culminating at the K54 (Tsamaya Road) intersection.

Solomon Mahlangu Drive upgrade highlights the Provincial Government’s commitment to sustainable and smart mobility, as well as providing economic prosperity in Gauteng.

“Thank you to all those who contributed to this transformational project. To all those involved in the process, we appreciate your support and encourage you to continue to collaborate with us in creating a future where secure and efficient transport networks greatly benefit communities and promote the growth of Gauteng in a meaningful way,” the MEC concluded.

Traditional healers praying during the oversight of K69 road upgrade in Mamelodi, Tshwane photo by Dimakatso Modipa

MATA PRO Freddy Mashapa speaking on behalf of all taxi associations in Mamelodi commended the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport for building the road as it would be helpful to them as taxi drivers in terms of lessening convoy.

He appealed to the community does not burn down the road as this causes an inconvenience to them as taxi drivers and people going to work.

He appealed to the government to keep its promises regarding service delivery so as to avoid a situation whereby residents will have to toyi-toying on the road and burn it down.

Local Ward Councilor Joel Masilela thanked MEC Kedibone Diale-Tlabela for the wonderful work done in building the road.

“We are elated as the ANC by the work that has been done by the Department of Roads and Transport and we would like to see more similar projects being set up throughout the province,” said Masilela.

Masilela described Diale-Tlabela as one of the most hard-working MECs, adding that since she assumed her position, things have turned around.


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