SA Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula, Budget Vote Speech

Key take away points from this year’s speech and debate include:

  • The revised approach with regard to Board appointments.
  • Recruitment of CEO’s.
  • High Speed Rail between Johannesburg and Durban (no timeline provided)
  • Moloto Road & Rail Corridor (no timeline provided)
  • Single transport economic regulator, to level the playing fields in the rail, maritime and roads sectors

Extracts Relating To Rail From The Ministers Speech:

“As we said earlier, we are building on the foundation of the work done by those that came before us. We are determined to ensure that the finalisation and revisions of feasibility studies in relation to the 130km Moloto Rail Corridor between Siyabuswa in Mpumalanga and Tshwane in Gauteng on the one hand; and the high-speed rail between Johannesburg and Durban on the other hand, are prioritised.

“Both these projects are part of a suite of projects identified in the National Transport Master Plan 2050 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.

“Chairperson, commuter rail plays a critical role as an enabler of mobility across the transport system. Achieving efficiencies in rail will go a long way towards addressing challenges brought about by congestion on our road network.

“Honourable members, it is an open secret that PRASA has haemorrhaged critical engineering capacity and is unable to improve its operational performance without a decisive intervention.

“Following a directive from the President in March this year, a decisive intervention to turn around PRASA and improve its operational performance while re-building its engineering capacity to drive the modernisation programme is in place.

“This will be driven through a Ministerial War Room which will play an oversight and enabling role over the turnaround strategy. The Ministerial War Room will also guide interventions to realise three (3) key objectives. The first objective being Service Recovery to focus on rolling stock availability and reliability, infrastructure availability and reliability and train performance.

“Specific targets that must be realised in the next 100 days include improving on-time performance of Metrorail from 73.3% to 85%. In respect of Shosholoza Meyl improve on-time arrivals from 13% to above 50%; ensuring Metrorail train set availability from the current average of 200 to 291 train sets. In respect of Shosholoza Meyl, improve locomotive availability from 45% to 60%; achieve 100% correct configuration of train sets from the current 49.4%; reduce speed restriction from the current total of 149km to less than 100km of the network under speed restrictions;

“The second objective is Safety Management, which entails putting in place effective measures to protect rolling stock, staging yards, perway, electrical and signal infrastructure, depots, stations and most importantly, passengers on board our trains. Integral to this is achieving full compliance with the Railway Safety Regulator permit conditions and directives.

“I will be engaging with the Minister of Police to look at ways we can strengthen the capacity and visibility of the Railway Police in the Metrorail environment, so we can reverse the negative impact of rampant crime in our environment.

“The third objective is accelerated implementation of the modernisation programme. This entails urgently creating capacity for PRASA to manage capital projects and spend its capital budget to achieve effective sequencing of critical infrastructure that will enable the deployment of the new trains in targeted corridors.

“The Ministerial War Room interventions are aimed at stabilising PRASA’s operations and achieving tangible results within 100 days, while the Board of Control and management continue to roll out interventions to ensure sustainable outcomes.”

Mr Fikile Mbalula, is the fourth Minister of Transport, in three years.

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