Call for state to fund railways

Posted On Sunday, 23 October 2011 02:00 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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Senior railwaymen have called for state funds to be set up to maintain Africa’s rail infrastructure systems, says SARA executive director Bernard Dzawanda.

InfrastructureSENIOR railwaymen have called for state funds to be set up to maintain Africa’s rail systems. Speaking at a media briefing ahead of next week’s Southern African Railways Association conference in Johannesburg, executive director Bernard Dzawanda said governments should take responsibility for maintaining rail infrastructure “so that we can redirect our resources to operations”.

His comments were echoed by Transnet Freight Rail chief executive Siyabonga Gama, who noted that most of the world’s railways depended on their governments for investment.

“We need to get beyond political support — we need economic support,” said Gama.

Railway operators around the world have long complained that the deck is stacked against them as road transporters get their infrastructure from the state for free while railroaders have to pay to build and maintain theirs.

The funding issue will likely take centre stage as railwaymen from all over Africa gather in Johannesburg to thrash out agreements and proposals on cross-border operations and rail corridors, to look for new equipment and discuss the eternal quest of shifting freight traffic from road to rail.

“We want to get away from pro-road policies,” said association president Titus Haimbili.

Two new cross-border railways will also be under the spotlight.

The proposed 1500km-long Trans-Kalahari line will link South Africa’s Waterberg coal fields and other new mining projects in Botswana with Walvis Bay in Namibia.

A pre-feasibility study has been completed, but local reports in June indicated that Botswana and Namibia were still contemplating investment models for the line which could cost as much as $10-billion to build. Closer to home, Transnet’s proposed 165km link from Ermelo to Phuzumoya in Swaziland might be completed only in five years’ time. The link would relieve pressure on the congested Ermelo-Richards Bay “heavy-haul” coal line, which is struggling to cope with increased export coal traffic.

Gama said a feasibility study and environmental impact assessment needed to be completed before the final decision was taken.

Private involvement in Africa’s rail operations will also be on the agenda. In South Africa, Transnet’s proposal to concession various non-core branch lines had made some progress with three concessions expected to be awarded by end-December.

Gama said Transnet was concerned that the concessions needed to be sustained once they had been awarded.

 

Last modified on Tuesday, 29 October 2013 11:44

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