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High-speed rail plan goes to cabinet

Feb 22 2011 14:33 Sapa

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Johannesburg - The proposed high-speed railway project between Durban and Johannesburg is ready to be presented to cabinet for approval, Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele said on Tuesday.

Cabinet approval would start a process which included a feasibility study on the viability of the rail link, Ndebele said.

The project was part of the transport department's plan to revitalise South Africa's rail industry and in the process unlock its economic potential and create jobs, he said.

He dismissed reports that President Jacob Zuma's son Duduzane Zuma, Lazarus Zim, the Gupta Brothers and their Chinese partners were in line to win the rights to construct the high-speed rail project.

"We wish to state that the department of transport will only call for expressions of interest on the Durban-Johannesburg high speed rail route in July 2011.

"In June 2011, we are also hosting an International Investors' Conference in Cape Town to consolidate the interests in our infrastructure projects, including the Durban to Johannesburg high-speed rail project," said Ndebele.

Once these expressions of interest were received, they would be subjected to a strict evaluation process and the preferred and winning bidders would be announced after an inclusive and transparent process.

"Taking this into consideration, there is no way that any party, including the media that is currently interested in the Durban to Johannesburg rail project, could know before we have even called for expressions of interest that they will win the rights to construct this rail project," he said.

Ndebele announced in September last year that as part of the national transport master plan (Natmap) 2010 to 2050, the department planned to revitalise the commuter rail network between Durban and Johannesburg.

In 2005, through Natmap, the department under the then transport minister Jeff Radebe, who is now minister of justice and constitutional development, conceptualised high-speed rail for Johannesburg to Durban, Johannesburg to Musina, and the Moloto Corridor between Tshwane and the former KwaNdebele in Mpumalanga.

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