China puts SA rail plans on track

2010-09-01 19:31

Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma and Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele’s state visit to China last week has come with what could be the ticket to the future of transport in this country.

They have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Chinese government on possible cooperation, as South Africa seeks to be part of the “rail renaissance” that is currently taking place globally.

“The MoU is a pronouncement by the Chinese government that they would like to participate as one of the global strategic partners in our rail renaissance,” said Transport Director General George Mahlalela, addressing the media on the department’s rail plans.

The department has identified three high-speed rail projects with lines running from Johannesburg to Durban, Johannesburg to Cape Town and Johannesburg to Musina.

Mahlalela added that this investment is not exclusive to the Chinese, as there are similar engagements with other countries.

The cooperation could be through foreign investment, technology transfers, funding and skills development.

The costs of the projects have not yet been finalised.

“We are looking at alternative ways of funding without running to the National Treasury. We believe we’ll find innovative ways,” he said.

Details of the 20-year programme have not yet been determined by the department.

Mahlalela believes the revamp of the transport system will be a major boost to the country's socio-economic development.

“The challenge we are facing is that most of our commuter rail system has reached the end of its lifespan,” he said.

The department is planning to have a fully integrated transit system in 12 urban centres and six rural districts by 2020.

Even though the details of the plan are not yet clear, Mahlalela confirmed that the Moloto long distance commuter rail project is a priority, and that a feasibility study has been finished.

Mahlalela said they are preparing to submit to the cabinet action plans for these projects in September.

Over R40bn has been invested in passenger rail infrastructure and services over the last five years.


  • georgie - 2010-09-01 19:50

    What on earth are they doing. We have such a good rail infrastructure which they destroyed with the BEE policies. Now getting the Chinese in take the jobs. We have so much skills, had the best rail network and they destoyed it. Now getting the Chinese spend the tax money for them to let it go down the drain again

  • Makutu - 2010-09-01 20:14

    Hmmm...! Very nice thing to read indeed. This should be a major boost for our economy. Let's hope that it'll halt inflation and help with the decrease of the logistics costs in our country. Logistic companies also need to start thinking about how their businesses will be sustained because this a major threat to logistics South Africa. This sounds like a very good plan President Zuma. The Chinese Empire is about to kick in. I wonder how decent it'll be.

  • Rinus - 2010-09-01 20:39

    Now for South Africa - they're taking over the 3rd world! These are extracts from 2 articles on Namibia: 1.Local contractors in the road maintenance and construction sector accuse the Government of contravening tender procedures by awarding the bulk of tenders to foreign firms especially Chinese companies, who have virtually taken over the industry. Further accusations are that some key officials in the Government team up with Chinese nationals to form companies and thereby obtain tenders on behalf of their companies in the construction sector. 2. 40,000 Chinese in Namibia, (The Namibian, 2006-11-21):-Large numbers of foreigners from the Far East, especially China, are flocking to Namibia to work and are granted working visas and residence permits at the drop of a hat, says an opposition politician. An estimated 40 000 Chinese nationals were already in the country, Jurie Viljoen of the Monitor Action Group (MAG) party said in the National Assembly yesterday. Speaking on a motion on alleged malpractices in the Namibian construction industry, Viljoen warned that the scramble for Africa was on again, hinting at the rising Chinese interest in Africa lately. How many South Africans cannot find work? Next "arms deal"?

  • Danie - 2010-09-01 21:26

    The Chinese are looking space, plenty space. They are going to take South Africa and colonised it.

  • cactus Joe - 2010-09-01 23:21

    South Africa used to have a thriving Railway industry, with manufacturing facilities, maintenance facilities and everything else that was needed. SAR was then gutted, most of the facilities were neglected and left to rot. Transnet focused on their 'core business' and businesses like the Blue Train were ruined. Now we import trains like the 'GauTrain', and next we can expect 'made in china' trains. Like the SAA Airbus mess, we loose the ability of doing anything ourselves, while buying stuff from other countries, and if it breaks, we cannot fix it. Forget about technology and knowledge transfers, South Africa is doing that every day: only, all our knowledge is going to other countries. Instead of politicians, maybe Transport engineers should be guiding what is needed and viable her. Then again, it may be the politicians' gravy train for the next 20 years that is being planned.

  • Dave - 2010-09-02 02:52

    I have seen it through Africa. I is a nice way to colonise. The rails are there to transport minerals to China and for stratgic reasons. Whom controls the rails and ports controls the exports. Withit will come 20000 workers with Permanent Residence. Is it good or bad...? Well why not disclose the whole deal.

  • Station Master - 2010-09-02 06:55

    Because of BEEE policy the ANc ollowed our once brilliant rail network to crumble. No maintenance, rolling stock sold for scrap, station buildings allowed to fall apart and rot and all the maintenance staff replaced with affirmative staff. Now the tax payer will have to fork out to repair what didn't need fixing!! Another opportunity for government officials to rig tenders and get "back handers". Before the ANC wake up, South Africa will be run by China.

  • honky - 2010-09-02 07:15

    Perhaps they should also bring over their own staff to run it, or else they will go bang !! This may show SA unions that having a job is actually a privilege.

  • Paul L - 2010-09-02 07:40

    SA Govt during state visit to China : Wow, China! Look how fast the train goes! And you want to build a high-speed railway infrastructure for us???? China : All the better to exploit your mineral wealth. And cos we buy from you after you nationalise mines politicians make lots of money!!

  • G - 2010-09-02 08:08

    This is disasterous news. The Chinese "built" infrastricure (roads, railays) in other African countries that are now falling apart. In exchange they now own resources in those countries. Zuma sold us out. This is a major loss for our country. Time to learn Manadrin guys. Our new colonisers are on their way and once again the poor black masses will lose out.

  • Johnathan - 2010-09-02 08:21

    "Renaissance" means "re-birth". Is the government therefore admitting that South Africa USED TO HAVE a good railroad system and that they have destroyed it through corruption and incompetence?

  • Dave - 2010-09-02 08:34

    We have a rubish president if he thinks this is a good long term decision. He does not have a mandate to make us China's bitch.

  • Two Percenter - 2010-09-02 08:43

    I do not believe we need to worry about high speed rail networks. What we need far more urgently is an efficient and economical alternative to freight. SA desperately needs to get the trucks off the roads. I would be keen to be part of the planning process and suggest a Roll-On, Roll-Off solution similar to that used on the channel tunnel. Jhb - Dbn is now an easy drive and flying is still working for passengers. Jhb - CT is not an easy drive and flying and bus solutions working for passenger transport. We need to focus on freight and save the roads.

  • PeterM - 2010-09-02 08:43

    We do not at this stage need high speed rail links! what we need is a good cheap urban rail system linking the city centers and industrial areas to the population centers and I don't mean expensive systems like the Gautrain, I am talking about systems like monorails, which can be built for a fraction of Gautrains cost and implemented a lot quicker. When we can move the working population around quickly & cheaply then look to link th major cities up.

  • GSman - 2010-09-02 08:45

    The Chinese are out to grab Africa by way of SA. I have noticed all the Chinese shops in the Overberg with mechandise including electronic wares at really low prices that are forcing South Africans to close shop.

  • mukesh - 2010-09-02 08:47

    With labour problems and pilferage; we have the rail industry is doomed from the onset. Industry needs a reliable and efficient transport system; that is why road transport has mushroomed. I for one would love the rail system to succeed. We need a dictator to get resolve this problem.

  • Marius - 2010-09-02 08:52

    Why do we run to CHINA? WHY? We have the engineers in this country to do it our self. Just forget about race for a moment and we can create 1000's of jobs, that is now going to CHINA! Are you stupid!!!

  • LEIGH - 2010-09-02 09:26

    I am all for investment in ZA but one has to ask at what price will the Chinese investment come ... China is like a nation of locusts with no conscience. They will strip Africa of our natural resources and leave us with nothing .... Unlike the rest of Africa, we do not need to accept China on its terms and should ensure that whatever they do here in South Africa is moral and benefically conditional ...

  • AagNee - 2010-09-02 09:56

    And to think that a few years ago we were able to do it ourselfs.

  • Dean - 2010-09-02 09:58

    This is good news, although the comments here would have you believe otherwise - that 'in the good old days of apartheid' we had a good rail system, and now the 'new' govt has wrecked it. We did have a good rail system 30 years ago - but that is the point - it is old. It has not been destroyed because of govt policies. Look at the Gautrain - we are moving forward, not backwards. The development currently being experienced in this country could NEVER have taken place under the apartheid govt, so get over it. Honestly, the sooner the youth and new generation of this country grow up and get rid of these dinosaur racist attitudes, the better.

  • Huawei - 2010-09-02 10:00

    SA do create lot of jobs, for the Chinese.

  • Steven - 2010-09-02 10:27

    And in 100 years (or even less) we will hear political leaders complaining about the colonisation of Africa by the Chinese. These guys (read Julius Malema for example) spew hate against the west and former colonial powers, but in the same breath praise China as the answer. China doing now what the "West" did 400 years ago. Colonise Africa to gain the resources it needs for growth. And Africa will fall for it again......

  • @Dean - 2010-09-02 10:28

    I hope that a least you believe yourself. If we could do 30 years ago (not that it was that long ago) why can we not do it again ourselfs ? Gautrain runs between Sandton and the Airport, it means nothing on a national level.You must tell us more about "the development currently being experienced in this country", we do not see it.

  • Dre - 2010-09-02 10:38

    China's long term strategy: First, get in with cheaply bought govt officials. Then, offer financing for ego projects that can offer 20% under the table without too many questions. Then send your own workers who don't strike, and alleviate overpopulation at home. These workers stay in Africa and create their own communities (so now the govt takes orders from BEijing but their is also a population base and settlement favouring the Chinese. Now you can get all the UN votes you want (51 countries in Africa) and rape all the resources you need.

  • Road Runner - 2010-09-02 10:44

    Next Zuma will get the Chinese to repair our "stuffed" roads, which are in the state that they are, because our rail network was allowed to crumble.

  • @Dean - 2010-09-02 11:08

    Kudos, if we go to China, we are going to be colonized (again), if we go to the west, we are 'typical Africa with the begging bowl'. All this while we dont have money as a country to finance all this large investments. A lot of commentors here NEED to grow up. We need investments, large sums, and currently the Chinese DO HAVE THE MONEY. So shush up or put the money on the table!!!

  • tictac - 2010-09-02 13:26

    Why waste time with passenger services??? Lorries should be taken off the road, so freight transport by rail should receive priority attention! Scary that our regime would approach China for this. I am sure the Communist Party is happy with that!

  • Robert - 2010-09-02 13:30

    Why are we looking to china for high speed rail systems when china whent to germany to gt their high speed mag-lift train

  • Namibian - 2010-09-02 13:45

    Please take the trouble and do some research on the "investment" these people made in the Rail System in Namibia. Too much to tell in this space, but the trains broke down about a year ago after about two months in operation, and since then not moved an inch.

  • Colin - 2010-09-02 16:46

    Richard Nixon (discredited, yes, but a realist nonetheless) said it: 'Anyone looking for anything other than self-interest in the relations between countries is bound to be disappointed' - or words to that effect.....

  • DayChild - 2010-09-23 08:07

    1. If you are not using your mother toungue to write on these posts, you are already colonised mentaly. But you do still communicate in english, so that you are heard and visible. That is the order of the day. My point: You guys are too pessionate abouot things you refuse to comprehend and properly analyse. Spend time and think about everything, you will releave yourself out of all the uneccessary fear. No successful country is an island. We can afford to be colonised again. If you ever ran a business you will know that sometimes you have to sacrifise/change your beliefs in order to succede, especialy on a global level. you can not afford to be sterio-typed and dismisive of any idea before exhaustive analysis. What do we stand to gain, loose, what's the worst that could happen? how much of our freedom, culture are we giving away? For what? Is it worth it?

  • The future - 2010-09-27 12:55

    I think it is a great idea to have a high speed rail network in South Africa. I stay in China at the moment and had a ride on some of their high speed trains, and was very impressed. If SA want to give the high speed rail project to China then it will be in good hands.

  • james4usa - 2011-02-11 20:20

    The Chinese are smart, hardworking and Ruthless. They bought a Steelmill from Germany, had guys flaunt every safety rule in dissasembling it. Took it to China and doubled the output.

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