Billion-rand makeover for Pietermaritzburg railway station

2012-02-22 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG’S railway station, made famous by Mahatma Gandhi, is in line for an upgrade.

Premier Zweli Mkhize’s announcement during the state of the province address was music to the ears of the Pietermaritzburg Gandhi Memorial Committee.

Spokesperson David Gengan said the committee had been lobbying for this for years because of the station’s rich history.

“When Indians from all over the world visit South Africa they all want to see the station but we always felt that it was not in good condition because it had not been upgraded for years,” he said.

He said once this was complete, it would inspire tourism potential that had not been fully tapped.

Mkhize said more than 50 stations would be involved in the programme with a construction and job creation value of R140 million over 18 months.

Pietermaritzburg Tourism chairperson Bunny Bhoola also welcomed the initiative. “This will not only benefit Indians but also Gandhi’s followers and scholars, who are always interested in seeing the site where Gandhi was thrown off a train,” she said.

Bhoola said this initiative will complement Project Gateway, which is already telling the story of the history of the Midlands.

Last year The Witness reported that a huge makeover of the city’s historical railway precinct was underway.

It was part of an initiative by Intersite and the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) to encourage more people to choose rail transport.

Prasa awarded the five-year contract, with an estimated value of R1,7 billion to a consortium in a joint-venture comprising SSI Engineers and Environmental Consultants; Sirius Development Foundation and Falcon Forest Trading.

The makeover will see 187 000 square metres redeveloped for multiple uses, ranging from schools to offices.

• thobani.ngqulunga

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