Integrate transport - Ndebele
Johannesburg - The answer to South Africa's transport problems was an integrated public transport system consisting of trains, buses, taxis and planes, Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele said on Thursday.
"This is a certain way of ensuring that our country sheds its past history of division according to race and geography and to unveil a future that bridges distance and brings all parts of our country's communities together," he said.
Ndebele was speaking at the official opening of the R63m refurbished Orlando Railway Station, in Soweto.
The development of transport is a prerequisite for a country's development, he said.
"Without transport we simply cannot move goods and people. That constraint... ensures that a country's economy cannot breathe; it ensures that a country's economy cannot grow."
Ndebele said the Gautrain started running on Tuesday; the R59m Windermere station in Cape Town opened on Wednesday; the new R140m Moses Mabhida station in Durban opened on Monday; and the R70m refurbished Nasrec station in Johannesburg opened last Wednesday.
'A legacy in transport'
"In all these projects, we are looking at cementing a legacy in transport that will take South Africa to new heights and become a living reminder about where we want to take our country," he said.
Ndebele said that although more coaches had been refurbished and put into service, pressure remained for extra services and capacity.
These demands came amid increased labour, energy and material costs; an increase in capital investment but not operational subsidies; a lack of human resources capacity to rationalise operations, maintain, sustain and expand the network; and a shortage of funding for critical upgrade and maintenance work.
"There are growing commuter travel needs and limited service and line capacities are being experienced in the system due to current system and technology limitations," he said.
Rail transport which was safe and reliable would transform people's lives as they travelled to work, home, hospitals and places of entertainment.
"In (the) year 2010... it should not matter if a country in the World Cup wants to play a friendly here in Soweto or in Sandton, the facilities should just be there."
Speaking out against vandalism, Ndebele said the country had invested billions in railway infrastructure development.
"We would like to see a firm commitment from our people that the responsibility for the transport infrastructure depends on us," he said.