East Cape rail project gets set to roll

Phase three of the Kei Rail Project gets rolling on Thursday with a special launch by the Eastern Cape government at the Kei Bridge between East London and Umtata.

Phases one and two concentrated mainly on the feasibility of the project which will see 281km of railway line and rolling stock being upgraded to improve transport between the two centres.

Project spokesperson Nokwanda Kakana said original estimates put the cost of refurbishment of the line at R44-million but this had increased to R97-million. The project should be completed by the middle of 2004. Tenders have been awarded to Ilanga Construction and Racec Construction.

Local labour will be used to ensure maximum benefits for communities in the area during construction.
Local people will replace wooden sleepers with metal ones, and to construct buildings, bridges, level crossings and drainage.

Kakana said the overall project would stimulate socio-economic growth in the province.

“The Kei Rail Project addresses rail traffic and feeder road challenges while pursuing an integrated freight and public transport dispensation in this corridor. This is regarded as very important in the context of socio-economic development,” said

Kakana.

She said the long term vision was to have an efficient, affordable, high-speed railway system that formed part of an overall transport system involving rail, road, sea, air, freight and passenger services in the region.

She said this would do much to attract investment and stimulate growth while benefiting all those who lived in the vicinity by improving access to schools, medical facilities and commercial outlets. - Sapa

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