Pretoria – It used to take 68-year-old Muriel Shabangu an extra 10km to travel to her relatives in Emndeni in her 12-year-old Toyota Tazz.
On Tuesday, Shabangu was among dozens of Soweto women who ululated as Johannesburg Executive Mayor Parks Tau officially opened the R65-million Naledi-Protea North Bridge.
The bridge, which took almost two years to build, significantly cuts the travelling time between Naledi and Protea North to only 500 meters.
The two communities are separated by a railway line that runs through their townships, making it difficult to inter-link these communities.
Some people have lost their lives and others have been arrested trying to cross the unfenced railway line.
The new bridge will enable the two communities to come together and be able to access services that are available on either side of the rail line, including clinics, schools and sport facilities.
Speaking at the event, Mayor Tau said people who had never experienced the inconvenience of travelling between Protea North and Naledi would not understand the importance of the bridge.
“For the City, delivery matters. It’s important for us to deliver to those who need the services the most,” the Mayor said. He said Johannesburg was a city at work.
“Today, we are here to open the bridge but we also want to commit that we are here to serve you. You have entrusted us to serve you and that’s what we will do.”
Member of the Mayoral Committee for Transport Cllr Christine Walters said the Johannesburg Roads Agency had spent R500-million on developing roads in Soweto.
“We plead with community members to ensure that there’s no speeding on the bridge. That’s the reason we put humps,” said Walters.
Community member Buti Masothe said it was a proud moment for residents of Naledi and Protea North.
“Many of our loved ones have lost their lives crossing the railway line. Today I’d like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to Mayor Tau. You are the servant of the people, continue serving people because we appreciate that,” said Masothe.