Pretoria: Increasing the rail network will not only relieve the country’s roads but will be good for the economy too, Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba says.
“Six thousand, four hundred and five kilometres of rail will have been replaced [on] the general freight, coal and ore lines, increasing the rail network by 149.7 million tonnes,” he said at SABC-The New Age breakfast briefing on infrastructure on Monday.
“Existing logistics corridors will be expanded and new ones will be established, and 1 317 new locomotives and 25 000 new wagons will be procured (over the next five years),” he said.
The move will improve the country’s capacity to industrialise the economy as well as the ability to export manufactured goods.
“We will be able to increase our exports of coal by over 50%. Our ability to move general freight on rail will have more than doubled in capacity and Transnet’s container handling capacity will increase by 75%. The dramatic increase in our rail infrastructure will have a positive impact on our roads and will reduce the burden carried by many roads,” Gigaba said.
This will improve the efficiency and safety of roads and has positive spin-offs for the economy.
On the issue of black business, Brian Dames, the outgoing CEO of Eskom, said that the power utility was serious about helping black business to bloom. Additionally, Eskom has finalised the design of a fund for developing mines to assist emerging black miners.
“By 2015, we will ensure that over 50% of coal to Eskom comes from black miners,” said Gigaba.
Procurement of goods needed to benefit the country and should have elements of localisation, said the minister.
On the national carrier, South African Airways (SAA), the minister said the entity will return to profitability.
“Last year, we said we expected that the airline will continue to make losses over the next three to five years. We will turn the corner as we move to improve and ensure that the turnaround strategy is implemented.”
In 2012/13, SAA saw a loss of R900 million.
SAA last year unveiled a turnaround strategy that included the consolidation of routes and the upgrade of the carrier’s fleet.
Over the last 18 months, SAA had taken delivery of five new aircraft.
“We are gradually taking delivery of the new aircraft,” said Gigaba.