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Transnet calls for decision on rail gauges

May 08 2012 15:28 Sapa

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Parliament - Urgent policy clarity is needed from the government on whether South Africa will switch from narrow to wide gauge railways tracks, MPs heard on Tuesday.

Transnet Freight Rail acting CEO Patrick Dada said the parastatal's investment was centring around narrow gauge for the short to medium term, but that an urgent long term decision was required from the government.

"We are looking for clarity from a policy perspective," he told the portfolio committee on public enterprises.

"We have strong views on what we believe it will mean to switch over to another gauge.

"For the short to medium term our investments are centring around the narrow gauge."

Dada said Transnet was also mindful of the risk of investing in a railway project in Swaziland.

He said there were question marks around Swaziland's ability to pay for part of the project.

"We are mindful of that," he said.

"One of the things that will secure [the] project for us is [the] external financial interest of other investors."

The project would ensure coal was moved out of the country faster and easier.

"It will be good for SA from an export perspective," he said.

"We will ensure that before we finalise this that [we] will do due diligence on whether they are able to pay [for] it or not. If not, we will go to private investors."

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