S. Africa plans massive investment in rail

Updated: 2012-08-17 10:58


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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - The South African government will over the next few years invest over $5 billion in passenger rail infrastructure and services, a government minister said here on Thursday.

Transport Minister Dikobe Martins said that rail will be the future backbone of the country's public transport system.

"We will invest in both the existing rail network and new lines in order to respond in a decisive way to new post-apartheid spatial and economic dynamics," the minister said.

"A focused rail revitalization program will become a key activity over the medium term working with other departments in the economic cluster, and our domestic and international partners in the private sector," he said.

The minister stressed that lack of investment in the rail infrastructure was placing a huge burden on road, causing a lot of traffic congestion in cities.

He said the government will ensure that the infrastructure and services provided will be efficient and affordable to individuals, corporate users as well as to the entire economy.

The minister said the government was aware that a good transport infrastructure is a driver of economic growth and development.  

"It is common cause that no economy can thrive without developed road, rail, maritime and aviation infrastructure networks," the minister said.

He said that the biggest challenge towards building a reliable transport infrastructure was attracting investment to provide new infrastructure in rural and urban areas while being able to maintain the existing structures.

"The government's planned transport infrastructure development is also going to prioritize rural areas that remained underdeveloped throughout the apartheid era that ended in 1994," said he.

The minister said his department was embarking on a number of programs to consolidate its position as one of the key drivers of infrastructure development within the entire economy.

He said legislative reviews will also be undertaken to create a favorable climate for local and international investments.