23 February 2011
Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele is to approach Cabinet for approval of plans for South Africa’s first long-distance high-speed rail link, between Durban and Johannesburg.
Last September, Ndebele announced the proposal as part of the National Transport Master Plan 2010-2050.
As far back as 2005, there have been plans for high-speed rail links for Johannesburg to Durban, Johannesburg to Musina, and the Moloto Corridor between Tshwane and former KwaNdebele in Mpumalanga.
Speaking in Pretoria this week, Ndebele said the time had come for these projects to be rolled out.
Cabinet approval of the Durban to Johannesburg high-speed rail project would kick-start a process that includes a feasibility study on the viability of the rail link.
The plan has triggered major local and international interest from countries such as France, Germany, China, the United States of America, Japan, Canada and South Korea.
The project is part of the department’s plans to revitalise the rail industry in South Africa and to unlock the country’s economic potential and create jobs in the process.
“We have … noted recent media reports indicating that Duduzane Zuma, the son of President Jacob Zuma, Lazarus Zim, the Gupta Brothers together with their Chinese partners, were in line to win the rights to construct Africa’s first high-speed rail project,” Ndebele said.
“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.
“Once received, all expressions of interest will be subject to a strict evaluation process, and the preferred and winning bidders will be announced only following an inclusive and transparent process.
“As the first country in Africa likely to have such a project, we owe it to the people of this country and the continent that our greenfield long-distance high-speed rail sets high procurement, transparency, technical and safety standards for the rest of Africa.”
In June, an international investors’ conference will be hosted in Cape Town to consolidate interest in various infrastructure projects in the country, including the Durban to Johannesburg high-speed rail project.