Fin24

Zuma forgot the trains: Union

2011-02-11 18:09

Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma’s focus on economic growth was good, but according to the United Transport and Allied Trade Union transport union (Utatu), it failed to tackle a critical link in the economy - the country’s creaking rail system.

In a statement issued on Friday, Utatu's general secretary Chris de Vos said: “Although it had some good points, by ignoring the rail industry President Zuma’s speech failed to focus on the vital link to economic growth.”

He said the country’s rail sector problems were stifling economic growth and threatening millions of jobs. Zuma’s state of the nation address was a “golden opportunity” for Zuma to have addressed the issue.

“Yet he ignored that opportunity. Why? Is it because his government is short of solutions to the country’s commuter rail crisis?“

He claimed Zuma needed to be reminded that without efficient commuter rail services to back them, none of “his costly job creation initiatives can succeed“.

“As practical people who have to make things happen on a daily basis, we rail workers prefer practical solutions to theoretical plans that might never happen.”

He would have liked to hear Zuma announce a plan to replace the country’s obsolete rolling stock as well an intervention to end the feud between Transnet and the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa, which he said had been crippling train maintenance and some passenger lines. Zuma should have announced “the resumption of the desperately needed local production of passenger carriages - a measure that will immediately create thousands of jobs and end our commuter networks’ hazardous overcrowding and costly train delays.”

De Vos said Zuma should also have announced a plan to combat copper wire theft which delayed trains and threatens lives, and an increase in salaries that would “stem the flow of rail skills to Australia and New Zealand“.

Workers should be immediately appointed to fill Transnet Freight Rail’s vacancies for 1300 train drivers and 1000 train assistants.

“The government’s failure to fill its vacant Transnet Freight Rail posts is a direct contradiction of its job creation announcement. The ripple effects of appointing some 2000 additional footplate staff would create work for about ten times as many people,” said De Vos.

Comments
  • Nasdaq7 - 2011-02-11 18:54

    It just shows you everything is falling down under the ANC. A country should strive to build a low cost reasonable fast railway system that is safe and dependable. Trains like the Gautrain is good. Other more reliable low cost trains should be running. But then again: we can't go over to electrical trains - the country has almost no electricity supply. There's no nuclear power plants. All no thanx to the comradeship and brilliant leadership of the ANC. All Zuma can do is make promises. We need leadership. Isn't Spoornet still waiting for a black CEO too? Perhaps we should put anyone in there that has the necessary experience, skills and education. There is a load of money to be made if the ANC can get things right. That is privatization.

  • Madelane - 2011-02-11 19:00

    The problem with the entire rail system is management that do not have a clue about the running of a complex business.....simple.

  • jack black - 2011-02-11 19:12

    I have to agree with this argument, but the current rail crisis is but the tip of a massive iceberg that is transport in SA. There are millions of issues here: fixing the mess in private transport licensing, sorting out the steaming turd that is the taxi industry, maintaining and even expanding our road infrastructure. I mean - forget class mobility - it will never happen without basic public mobility in the form of safe, reliable public transport. Right now, on a level of importance, I'd put transport right up there with education and health care. Why can't we fix this problem?

  • roadvark - 2011-02-11 19:58

    Constructive comment from the unions. Rail is an essential component of growth and it is sorely neglected.

  • james - 2011-02-11 20:23

    Well now...about time started on this subject.Trains, in terms of the old regime (as in apartheid and earlier) were the cornerstone of the upliftment of the the then underprivileged masses who happened to be white. We had years of mismanagement because of "deployment" or what one could call AEE or Afrikaner employment advantage but eventually landed up with a very good railway system which now with the Gautrain is only beginning to to recover slightly from the general decline. There were trains running betweem JHB and PTA at 160km/h in the 1980s and a world record was set for maximum speed on our narrow gauge of something over 300km/h if I remember correctly, on the straight line west of Zuurbekom. And now? Blow all. Priorities are wrong, get the people working in menial jobs as they see them, on getting the railways right.

  • Iqbal - 2011-02-11 20:47

    I whole heartedly agree with Utatu's general secretary Chris de Vos's astute comments. Our govt knows how to waste money, but never how to spend it well, but always advertising on how the Public must but S African. Wesend out huge amounts of iron ore to the German Steel refineries, only to buy back the finished steel products for Eskoms re-building at may times the price as compared to if it was smelted and produced in SA. This wastage of money (could smelt locally and keep money in SA) could also be used to foot the bill for new coaches without the Govt looking for additional money to aid a crippling rail sector whilst helping with the Balance of Payments HERE'S FOOD FOR THOUGHT FOR THE GOVT AND ITS WASTE OF TAXPAYERS & S.AFRICAN'S - BLOOD SWEAT AND TEARS. MONEY

  • cvdm - 2011-02-12 05:00

    The Gravy Train are running well, No derailing or infrastructure problems were reported. Proudly funded by the white male taxpayers and those who created jobs as a result of AA.

  • Andor - 2011-02-12 09:14

    But off course he would forget the railway because it is maintenance. Any other railway in Africa mmmmmmm????

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