MEC Donald Grant (Western Cape)
Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) Chairman Mr Popo Molefe and the Board Members
PRASA CEO Lucky Montana
Officials from the Department [of Transport] and PRASA
Members of all media houses
Ladies and gentlemen
Today we are pleased to announce that our country is entering into a new era of hope in rail transportation.
Today’s event is a culmination of the ANC-led government’s progressive policies that responds to the socio-economic conditions of our people.
As a government, we are committed in reversing decades of underinvestment in railway infrastructure, which has resulted in poor levels of reliability and predictability.
As a country we had to deal with high levels of frustrations amongst the users of our public transport system where overcrowding in trains and slow journey times have resulted in our people losing faith in rail as a mode of choice.
The characteristics of an unreliable and unsafe commuter rail transportation is as a result of the ANC government inheriting ageing rolling stock, outdated signalling technology and dilapidated railway stations.
Rail renewal and modernisation is part of this government’s firm resolve in ensuring that the face of rail transportation in South Africa will never be the same again.
Our investment in public passenger transport is to ensure that South Africa is counted amongst the nations of the world where public transportation, rail, in this regard, is amongst the drivers of our economy and a liberator of our people’s social ills.
As we are aware, rapid urbanization and motorization poses a serious challenge. The need for us to redirect traffic from road to rail comes with the necessary financial savings to both government and the public.
Central to the New Growth Path is a massive investment in infrastructure as a critical driver of jobs across the economy, transport being amongst the leading driver.
Pursuant to these strategic priorities the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Committee (PICC) SIP 1 to SIP 5, we have already commenced with the construction of the new large rail lines.
In augmenting our rail infrastructure, the department of Transport together with the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) and the National Treasury concluded the procurement process for the new rolling stock program.
In fast tracking the modernisation of public passenger transport to rail, this government is investing R172.3 billion in the next ten (10) towards capital projects that will transform passenger rail transport in our country.
As a result R51 billion has been invested towards the manufacture of 3, 600 passenger coaches (600 trains in total), plus a further R3.5 billion for the manufacture of high power, efficient, fast and reliable locomotives.
The above will change long distance passenger travel as well as provide high quality passenger services for commuters in the major cities and towns.
Our people will have an opportunity to experience a multi-modal, multi-facet, integrated, accessible and reliable transport system that will move our country forward.
We are also happy to announce that only twenty trains will be manufactured in Brazil and the 580 will be manufactured in South Africa to bolster our local employment creation drive.
Nigel, in Ekurhuleni Gauteng, has been identified as the site for the establishment of the manufacturing plant, which is part of the government localization plan, thus creating thirty three thousand (33 000) direct and indirect jobs and train nineteen thousand (19 000) technicians, artisans, engineers and train drivers.
Our democratic government under the leadership of President Jacob Zuma invested R823 billion on mega transport infrastructure, with Freight rail allocated R300 billion and passenger rail R172.3 billion, over the next ten (10) years.
Today will go a long way in responding to the Freedom Charter declaration that “All other industry and trade shall be controlled to assist the wellbeing of the people”. We are gathered here today just to do that.
As the ANC led government, we have always been guided by the Freedom Charter’s principles and declarations. Government will ensure that we safeguard and live up to these ideals.
As a Department, we are pleased to be amongst the first to respond to the ANC 103 anniversary celebration’s declaration that 2015 is “the year of the Freedom Charter and unity in action to advance economic freedom”.
In conclusion, my sincere gratitude and appreciation goes to PRASA Chairperson, CEO and their staff for the sterling work done. I also acknowledge the work done by the consortium which has been appointed to oversee the implementation and the delivery of the locomotives and its operations.
To all South Africans lets work together to make sure we realise and live up to the objectives of the Freedom Charter.
I thank you.
SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICIAL NEWS