Johannesburg - A three-quarter trillion rand transport master
plan, which includes linking Johannesburg to Durban and Polokwane
via rapid train networks, was presented to parliament by the
transport department on Tuesday.
The plan's project manager, Lanfranc
Situma, told the portfolio committee for transport that the department needed
urgent approval from MPs so that the cabinet-initiated National
Transport Master Plan (Natmap) could "get moving".
Natmap transport planning consultant Paul
Lombard recommended to the committee that studies be done on whether it was
feasible to extend the Gautrain project to the Durban-Johannesburg
and Pretoria-Polokwane lines.
"We must ask if can we afford it and
how affordable will it be to passengers and the government," Lombard said.
He recommended the immediate institution
of a rail infrastructure-owning entity, similar to the Airports Company of South Africa, that
would "eventually absorb" the country's entire
network and "allow existing freight and passenger agencies to operate on
the network".The plan, which includes expanding the
port of Saldhana, doubling the Huguenot tunnel outside Paarl and
expanding the port of Cape Town as other vital projects, would cost about R750bn should it be launched today, financial project
manager Themba September told Sapa.
He said part of the plan was to form
partnerships with the private sector to help fund the project and lower the
burden to taxpayers.
"Overall, between now and 2050, the
cost of the project will be around R750bn," he said.
"We would hope to fund a large part
of the project through private-public partnerships. We would like to find the
right ratio of ownership between the private and public
September could not speculate on a start
date for the project, but said it was important that South Africa
"wasn't caught napping".
"Someone at some point has to make a
hard, cold decision on this," he said.
Situma told the MPs that South Africa
could qualify for foreign funding for the rail project as it had voluntarily
agreed to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 46%.
"If you build a railway or a train,
you are going to be cutting down the emissions from the road because there will be
less vehicles emitting carbon on the roads.
"Because of that, we will qualify
for funding which other people are getting. That money is readily available."The Natmap was initiated by cabinet in
2007 to develop and establish a multimodal transport system to meet
South Africa's needs up to 2050.
It was drawn up through the transport
department by consulting engineering company SSI Engineering and environmental
consultants Africon and Ingerop South Africa. It cost R64m.