14 November 2003
The government has signed a deal with rail utility Spoornet to enhance economic infrastructure in the Siyancuma Municipal District in the Northern Cape.
The agreement, signed during a provincial Trade and Investment Expo held in the province’s capital, Kimberley, will see the upgrading of the 85km Belmont-Douglas railway line.
The national transport department will provide R20-million to the project, the provincial department of economic affairs will inject R5-million, while Spoornet will provide the necessary materials and equipment such as coaches.
Provincial MEC for finance, economic affairs and tourism Goolam Akharwaray said the agricultural growth potential around the Siyancuma Municipal area was immense due to the rich soil conditions and abundance of water sources.
“It is therefore essential that this potential is tapped to its maximum,” Akharwaray said. “In pursuance thereto it is necessary to enhance the economic infrastructure that will facilitate such growth.”
The Belmont-Douglas railway line is essential for transporting wheat, maize, ground nuts, cotton, lucerne and other fruit produced in the province. At present, some 160 000 tons of agricultural produce is transported through this line every year.
However, the line as it stands is not capable of handling any growth, prompting the need for the upgrade.
The line’s carrying capacity will be increased from 26 tons to 44 tons per wagon, and the speed at which the goods are carried will be increased from 30km/h to 80km/h.
About R58-million will be invested to cover the costs of capital materials, coach upgrades and labour. The project will run over a 12-month period, and up to 500 jobs will be created.