Overhaul of rail system to create more jobs

Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Nthambeleni Gabara

Pretoria - The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa's plans to revamp the country's rail system is expected to create between 72 000 and 100 000 job opportunities for skilled and semi-skilled workers over an 18-year period.

Speaking at Prasa's market engagement session with manufacturers and financiers of new rolling stock, 
Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele described the programme as "a significant milestone in the history and development of passenger rail transport in South Africa."

Prasa is to invest in new rolling stock on an 18-year programme. This investment will enable Prasa to acquire new commuter coaches and Shosholoza Meyl coaches and locomotives, enabling it to achieve its objective of expanding the public rail transport network and offering more routes to destinations around the country.

Metrorail, which is operated by Prasa, provides over 2.4 million passenger trips daily, with trips growing at an average of about 7.1 percent over the past three years and is expected to average 5 percent over the medium term.

"A key element of long-term investment in the New Rolling Stock Programme is to create new employment in the rail sector. The market engagement we are launching today is a major step in the rollout of our rail modernisation strategy," he said.

Ndebele said through the current programmes such as the Accelerated Rolling Stock Programme, Station Upgrade Programme and the Signal Upgrade Programme, amongst others, they aimed to create 5 000 jobs in the short-term. 

"We aim to create 15 000 direct jobs over the next 18 years through the Fleet Acquisition Programme," he said.

Furthermore, there was an opportunity for South African engineers to get involved and improve their skills, said Ndebele. 

Prasa is set to invest about R97 billion in the project, with government allocating R30.2 billion to Prasa over the next three years.

Ndebele thanked manufacturers and financiers for attending the engagement session as a sign of their interest in the future of the country's transport system.

He said further engagement will be conducted with the domestic and international market in June this year, when an International Investors' Conference is hosted in Cape Town. - BuaNews

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