Rail boost 'to create 588 000 new jobs in seven years'

Transnet says it will create 588 000 new jobs in seven years by spending R300-billion on shifting SA's freight focus from roads to rail.

Over the next seven years Transnet will spend R300-billion on capital projects through its market demand strategy (MDS), the parastatal said on Tuesday.

“[Transnet] expects to create up to 588 000 new job opportunities across the economy through its MDS,” the parastatal said.

The MDS was aimed at expanding rail, port and pipelines infrastructure which would help to increase freight volumes, especially in commodities such as iron ore, coal and manganese.

It would also lead to a significant shift from road to rail.

“The main objective of the strategy is for Transnet to invest in building capacity to meet validated market demand that will enable economic growth.”

The projects were also at the centre of government’s proposed infrastructure development aims.

The MDS was expected to catapult Transnet Freight Rail (TFR), which had the lion’s share of the investment programme, into the world’s fifth biggest rail freight company.

Rail volumes were expected to increase from around 200 million tonnes to 350 million tonnes during the period.

“By 2019, TFR will increase its market share of container traffic to 92% from 79% currently.”

Transnet said the increase would have a major impact on reducing the cost of doing business as studies had shown that rail in South Africa was on average 75% cheaper than road.

“In addition, the large scale shift from road to rail will address costs, congestion and reduce carbon emissions,” the parastatal said.—Sapa

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