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KZN freight boss welcomes government’s decision to develop rail infrastructure

Railway line going to uMlazi from Durban central on May 15, 2019. Part of the track was damaged by the recent floods on April 21, 2019. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo African News Agency (ANA)

Railway line going to uMlazi from Durban central on May 15, 2019. Part of the track was damaged by the recent floods on April 21, 2019. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo African News Agency (ANA)

Published May 16, 2022

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Durban - Chief operations officer of KwaZulu-Natal based transportation company BigFoot Express Freight, Denesh Singh this week said he is excited by the government’s move to develop the country’s rail infrastructure through the white paper.

Singh said companies like BigFoot Express Freight want to work with the state in harnessing the country’s true potential for economic growth.

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“We have long said that Public Private Partnerships are critical for South Africa’s growth and

“This development is very promising. The private sector wants to invest in South Africa and companies like BigFoot Express, who are proudly South African, want to work with the government and state-owned enterprises to realise our country’s true potential.

“The private sector has a lot to offer and, given the opportunity, we are confident of mutually beneficial outcomes,” Singh said.

His remarks follow Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula’s announcement last week, who stated that the Cabinet has approved a white paper aimed at developing South Africa’s critical rail infrastructure.

Mbalula said the white paper would be gazetted on Monday, May 16. The policy was approved by the Cabinet in March.

“Today South Africa enters a new era and a renaissance of its railways with the publication in the Government Gazette of the White Paper on National Rail Policy.

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“We have come a long way since the first railway from Cape Town to Wellington was introduced in 1859. That was 163 years ago,” said Mbalula.

During the 2020/2021 financial year, state-owned rail and pipeline company Transnet made an R8bn loss.

It was also reported that one of Transnet’s main railway lines in Durban was severely damaged during the floods. The line was used to transport cars and maize, among other things.

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Around 2 220 km of the country’s 23 000km (plus/minus) long railway network is operated by Transnet and The country’s main container corridor, linking Durban to Gauteng, is a railway line stretching over 700km.

Transnet will be availing six slots on the container corridor, between Durban and City Deep in Gauteng, to interested third parties.

“As one of South Africa’s biggest road freight operators, we know intimately the challenges that the logistics sector faces and understand the value of what it would mean to open the rail network to private operators.

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“Red Tape and bureaucracy have hampered South Africa’s growth in the past and it’s good to see that the government is willing to open the rail network for the sake of economic growth and job creation,” Singh added.

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