East London – The Eastern Cape transport MEC is determined not to let the Kei Rail passenger service between East London and Mthatha collapse in her hands.
Thandiswa Marawu made the commitment at the relaunch of the passenger service at the Amabhele Station outside Stutterheim, backing her statement by committing R67 million to sustain the service over the next financial year.
“This important service will help us improve our people’s mobility, especially the rural poor. I vow that this service will not collapse in my hands,” said Marawu.
Marawu said the reintroduction of the service was a key part of government’s strategy to encourage rural development in the province.
“The reintroduction of this service is in line with government’s strategy for rural development and guarantees our people access to safe, reliable, efficient and affordable public transport,” added Marawu.
Department spokesperson Ncedo Kumbaca said the money allocated by the department was strictly for operational costs. He added that the reintroduction of the service was the first of many long-term initiatives aimed at bettering rail services in the province.
“We have a ten-year rail plan to make rail services viable through collaboration with various stakeholders such as local government and the private sector.”
Kumbaca said part of the department’s commitment to the plan included the launch of the Centre for Rail Studies at the Walter Sisulu University engineering department in 2009.
“In collaboration with the Dutch Railway Organisation and the University of Delft in the Netherlands, we were able to convene this project.”
The centre is currently training 39 students on rail-related studies such as track mastery, track management and train driving. – Thando Cezula, BuaNews