by Gregory Simpson

Editor's Letter

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The fluid operation of South Africa’s various transport arteries is vital to maintaining the southern tip of Africa as a preferred gateway in and out of Sub-Saharan Africa, with the competition from Kenya, Mozambique and Angola mounting.

The Richard’s Bay Coal Terminal is a prime example of the South African economy in motion, which handles much of the country’s coal exports to key Asian markets like China, who are normally on the lookout for raw materials to power their manufacturing-heavy economy and the subsequent demand for energy.

To our government’s credit, infrastructure upgrades to many of South Africa’s key ports and secondary harbours have given a boost to the shipbuilding, repair and maintenance sectors through to the oil and gas industry in Saldanha Bay, for example, which is also a centre for the emerging LNG market. With its close proximity to Cape Town and the West Coast oil fields to the north, it enjoys a key trade position for markets across the Atlantic; as the Saldanha IDZ continues to deliver.

Speaking of delivering, I’ve been impressed by the astute leadership of President Cyril Ramaphosa, who has visited two of the biggest vehicle manufacturers in the country, Mercedes-Benz in East London and Volvo Trucks in Durban. Both large multi-nationals have pumped millions into these plants respectively and have done wonders for the areas’ local economies while increasing skills development. Without the Mercedes-Benz production line, East London stops.

Meanwhile, Gautrain continues to impress with its service, vision and plans for a new line to Soweto, promising to give less advantaged communities access to this successful high-speed network, which can save hours of commuting time for workers who rely on public transport.

Sadly, many of our traditional commuter rail services are not run optimally, with Cape Town’s Metrorail’s failures affecting businesses and their bottom line. Unnecessary tension is created by creating so much uncertainty in commuters’ minds. Unreliable trains have forced many commuters to rely on taxis, which further enhances traffic issues and increases their monthly transport spend, at a time when money is tight.

The Cape Town to Simon’s Town train line should be a tourism showcase for the Mother City, with a plethora of spectacular scenery and historic stations dotting the line. Instead, you’ve got a poorly run service with trains that are difficult to see out off, filled with graffiti and which are havens for criminals. Let’s rather focus on maximising these prime assets.

Greg Simpson

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