/ 5 April 2011

SA rail needs R97bn investment

South Africa’s rail network needs investment of R97-billion to radically change the way South Africa travels, Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele said on Tuesday.

“Let us be clear, the coffers of the state are not sufficient to fund such a large programme. Therefore, a significant and sustained commitment from local and international financiers will be required to complete the rolling stock renewal programme,” he said.

Ndebele was speaking at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s (Prasa) market engagement at Gallagher Estate, in Johannesburg.

He said that the upgrade was needed as South Africa’s rail system was outdated, relying on 1956 technology.

Improved safety, reliability, productivity, employment creation and increased economic activity were some of the benefits of the proposed upgrade, said Ndebele.

It would create up to 100 000 skilled and semi-skilled jobs over 18 years.

He said tax and grant-based incentives would be offered to investors.

Additionally, the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) would offer loan incentives in the form of mezzanine financing to qualifying industrial investors.

Ndebele said Tuesday’s market engagement was an integral part of the development of a feasibility study for new rail rolling stock and would help to establish rail as the “backbone” of public transport. — Sapa