Cape Town – Transport infrastructure in South Africa is expected to radically change over the next two year, says Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele.
Briefing the media before his department’s Budget Vote today, Ndebele said the improvements amounting to R66 billion over the next year and going up to R80 billion in the 2013/14 period, were also to generate several jobs and tourism opportunities with both urban and rural areas benefiting.
He said the problem of limited funding for transport infrastructure development experienced in the country was a worldwide phenomenon, which even US President Barack Obama noted in his State of the Union Address.
To address that challenge, he called for “methodologies that will encourage private sector participation and investment in the provision of key infrastructure.”
The minister called for the transformation of public transport investment, which was heavily biased at the expense of rural areas.
He said not only does the bias promote migration to urban areas, but “the transportation costs also affect the earnings of rural communities.”
Ndebele gave an example of over 600 buses which traveled 160 kilometres from KwaNdebele each morning to Tswane and back again in the afternoon along the Moloto Corridor.
“Leaving home at 3am and arriving back at 9pm, these commuters are bussed to and from their places of work,” he said.
Government was subsidising this system to the tune of R412 million per annum, which, Ndebele said, equated to more than the monthly salaries of most of those commuters.
The minister said they were currently investigating an alternative and “more cost-effective transport network” for the Moloto Corridor, which would be safe and cut down travel time.
The completion of the state-of-the-art Gautrain rapid rail network between Sandton and OR Tambo Airport, which opened last year in June, had ushered in a new era in public transport and matched world norms, noted Ndebele.
The minister said the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project has been designed to ensure “inter-model facilities between Metrorail, Gautrain, buses and taxis”, and allowed commuters to use public transport effectively. – Francis Hweshe, BuaNews