Mbalula Vows To Prioritize Two Major Rail Projects

Minister Fikile Mbalula
Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula at the 2019 Southern African Transport Conference. Picture: Abigail Javier/EWN

CAPE TOWN – Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has promised to prioritize two major rail projects that have been in the pipeline for the last four years.

Mbalula gave his budget vote speech in Parliament on Tuesday.

He told MPs that the finalisation of feasibility studies into the Moloto Rail Corridor and the high-speed rail network between Johannesburg and Durban would be prioritized.

The completion of these projects could see President Cyril Ramaphosa’s dream of linking major cities by fast rail service being realised.

“Both these projects are part of a suit of projects identified in the National Transport Master Plan 2015 that was approved by Cabinet and will be undertaken as public-private partnerships with funding mobilised from the private sector through a number of instruments.”

Mbalula was also hoping to reach certain goals in the next 100 days in his plan to turn around the situation at Pasa, like improving the on-time performance at Metrorail and Shosholoza Meyl.

“Ensuring Metrorail trains set availability from the current average of 200 to 291 train sets. In respect of Shosholoza Meyl, improving locomotive availability from 45% to 60%.”

Mbalula has assured MPs his task team was working around the clock to find a solution to the e-tolls problem in Gauteng.

“The team is working tirelessly to ensure that a final report on this matter is tabled before the president by the end of August 2019. We’re mindful of the demand to scrap e-tolls and are therefore looking at solutions that will balance this demand with the needs for the country to honour its obligation insofar as the e-tolls debt is concerned.”