Govt to invest R50bn in rail infrastructure

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Pretoria - Government will over the next few years invest over R50 billion in passenger rail infrastructure, says President Jacob Zuma

The President earlier on Saturday launched the 3.5km Bridge City Rail Link project in KwaMashu, outside Durban. The R1.3 billion new Bridge City station, which includes a bus and taxi interchange, is the largest rail infrastructure development project in the Durban area.

“We have already proven our commitment to investing in public transport. Since rail is the future backbone of our public transport system, government will over the next few years invest over R50 billion in passenger rail infrastructure and services,” he said.

Being only 17km from the Durban city centre, the Bridge City station brings together the communities of Phoenix, Inanda, Ntuzuma and KwaMashu and links them into the urban system.

It serves as the social and commercial centre to an area housing a population of over 800 000 people, who at present have generally poor access to facilities and social services.

Bridge City is expected to boost economic growth in the nearby communities as it improves their access to public transport and opportunities to work, travel, shop and do business.

“This development contributes to fulfilling our dream of creating proper human settlements in which people have easy access to all facilities,” said Zuma.

The official launch of the station forms part of government's programme of rolling out infrastructure projects and is one of the major highlights of Transport Month.

Rail is important

Rail plays an important role in the daily mobility needs of ordinary people. Metrorail trains carry about 30 000 people a day and about 256 million passengers a year.

Zuma also announced that over the past five years, government has invested over R40 billion in passenger rail infrastructure and services.”

“Over the past four years, we have bought more than 6 984 new train coaches or wagons and more than 338 locomotives, many of which are now being manufactured locally to create jobs and expand industrial capacity.” 

He said before the dawn of democracy, the country did not have trains running up and down across cities and residential areas.

“Today we have trains that cut across residential areas and cities making it easy for commuters to travel. This is part of the developments that come with living in a free democratic society, a freedom that many fought for and sacrificed for.

“I urge all of you to utilise these services that are being unveiled today and to look after them. We will continue as government to roll out these infrastructure projects, but we need your support to look after them, they are a national resource,” he said.

He appealed to residents not to torch the trains in protest against late trains.

“If trains belong to government, it means that they belong to you, as this is your government. We cannot and should not therefore burn trains just because we are angry that they have come late.”

Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission

The rail link is part of government’s infrastructure programme launched by the President in 2012.

A key feature of the plan is the coordination of infrastructure build centrally in the Presidency, through the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission.

The PICC continues to coordinate infrastructure projects and its management committee is chaired by the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform Gugile Nkwinti.

Government held a Presidential Infrastructure Investment Conference in October last year to mobilise partnerships with the private sector.

The intensive focus on infrastructure has yielded results and many projects have either been completed or are nearing completion. By investing in infrastructure government is boosting job creation and economic growth.

These investments will allow the economy over the longer term to increase in productivity and become more competitive.

On Saturday, Zuma said the PICC had done well in ensuring that all spheres of government – national, provincial and local, work together to boost infrastructure development in every corner of the country.

20 years of freedom and democracy

“Next year our country will be celebrating 20 years of freedom and democracy. We will be celebrating 20 years of working steadily, day by day, to build this country, and ensure that there is visible development in every community.

“South Africa is a much better place today than it was before 1994. It is also a much better place than it was five years ago, because each year we ensure that more activities take place that improve the quality of life,” he said.

The historic occasion presented an opportunity for the nation to reflect on the path the country has walked towards freedom.

On Sunday, Zuma is expected to preside at the official renaming of the R24 in Johannesburg, Gauteng which will now be known as the Albertina Sisulu Freeway.

The R24 is a major east-west regional route in the greater Johannesburg Metropolitan area that links OR Tambo International Airport with Rustenburg via Johannesburg, Krugersdorp and Magaliesburg.

The event will coincide with Ma Sisulu's birthday weekend. – SAnews.gov.za

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