Govt’s huge rail plan

2010-09-28 00:00

TRANSPORT Minister S’bu Ndebele yesterday said his department’s proposed high speed rail project between Durban and Johannesburg would be the biggest government investment ever made in the history of this country.

Ndebele, who was speaking during the official launch of October transport month at the Bridge City Mall’s underground train station in Durban, said the high speed rail at a cost of R300 billion is the best option for the Moloto corridor between the the two cities.

He said his department will start in October both to develop the concept and conduct a six-month market test for the Durban to Johannesburg rail project.

“The Durban-Gauteng corridor is the busiest corridor in the southern hemisphere, both in terms of value and tonnage. It also forms the backbone of South Africa’s freight transportation network,” he said.

That the corridor is also vital for economic growth for the country, the region and the continent was the reasoning behind the institutionalising of the 2050 vision for the Durban-Gauteng corridor.

Ndebele said the 2050 vision was adopted on September 15 this year to be politically championed by the minister of Transport (Ndebele) in conjunction with a decision-making steering committee, chaired by director-general of transport, George Mahlalela.

In outlining the vision, Ndebele said the steering committee’s immediate tasks would include planning and infrastructure, communication, funding and policy, legislation, regulation and compliance.

The committee led by the Transport Department includes various other departments such as Public Enterprises, Trade and Industry, National Treasury and provincial premiers’ offices of KwaZulu-Natal, Free State and Gauteng and a number of government agencies.

There would be several nodal points within the corridor, Port of Durban, Cato Ridge, Harrismith and City Deep (Johannesburg).

Ndebele said a process is currently underway to establish a dedicated project management unit to ensure the implementation of the various work stream programmes and projects.

“This process should be viewed as a pilot project because of its capacity and integral role it plays in the region, continent and internationally,” Ndebele said.

On the R5 billion Bridge City rail project, Ndebele said the initiative is another development on the road to delivering a better life for the people of eThekwini and others living in the rest of the country.

“After the completion of this centre, townships of such as Phoenix, Inanda, Ntuzuma and KwaMashu will enjoy the benefits of a better public transport system, increased access to economic opportunities and job creation.

“South Africa’s future lies in being able to move people and goods faster, efficiently and in a cost-effective manner. We can only succeed in this venture if all of us work together,” said Ndebele.

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