More money pumped into new trains, digital TV

Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Amukelani Chauke

Cape Town – Government has channelled additional funding into the transport, communications and energy sectors in a bid to implement SA’s priority projects.

Tabling the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement in Parliament on Wednesday – his last mini budget of the current administration ahead of next year’s elections – Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan announced that billions of rands would be spent on the digital migration project, rolling out of new train coaches and refurbishing research facilities for nuclear research.

As expected, Gordhan allocated additional funding to support the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s (PRASA) procurement of rolling stock.

The agency plans to purchase more than 300 six-car trains over the next decade, with initial deliveries expected in 2015/16.

More investment was expected in other areas of transport, Gordhan said.

“Under the oversight of the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission, the rate of public investment will gather further momentum next year and beyond, supporting social delivery, industrialisation and skills development.

“Projects that will get underway soon include a new dam in the Eastern Cape, rehabilitation of the main roadway between Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal and a new coal-fired power station.”

In the past few months, government has through the Department of Communications prioritised South Africa’s migration from analog to digital signal to improve quality and accessibility to more remote areas.

This was also done to ensure that South Africa catches up with international standards.

Gordhan announced that money will also be made available to roll out set-top boxes to more than 5 million low-income households in preparation for the switch to digital television in 2015.

It has been reported that the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project would be used to roll-out the project to 16% of the households in remote areas where there is a poor signal.

The Department of Transport is, meanwhile, reviewing the impact of the taxi recapitalisation programme, and Gordhan said a portion of the programme’s funding will be delayed until the end of the spending period. –