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Kei rail - road to economic expansion

The newly unveiled Kei Railway Project, which is set to create over 29,000 jobs in the Eastern Cape, is also expected to open up economic opportunities for the area.

“About R133 million has been invested in this project with as many as 29,000 job opportunities to be created in the long term,” Minister Radebe said at the start of the operating services on Sunday, 2 March 2008.

It has been projected that Kei Rail will transport 1.4 million metric tonnes of timber a year from the Ugie, Langeni and the Nyibeni areas for the next 30 years which will create thousands of jobs, particularly with the construction of the timber mill.

Laying the economic foundation

Launched in August 2003, the R117 million project will link the former Ciskei and Transkei, as part of a wider plan to stimulate socio-economic development in the Border Kei region.

It is expected to lay a firm foundation for future economic expansion in the impoverished eastern areas of the province.

“We strongly believe that this project will boost passenger and cargo services within the Eastern Cape Province and will also stimulate tourism growth – and prove once again that rail transportation is a mass mover of our people and a backbone of our economic growth,” Minister Radebe said.

He said the project will revitalise eight lines running from the province to KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, Free State and the Northern and Eastern Cape.

"The project will stimulate economic activities where transport constraints and market access are the primary barriers to the sustainability and viability of businesses.”

Adding to that it will also provide an improved transport option for existing economic activities and thereby allowing for increased profit and sustainability.

Freight logistics

In striking to balance the road and rail transport, the department is implementing the National Freight Logistics Strategy.

It seeks among other things to integrate first and second economies, as well as supporting the integration of marginalised local economies with the main logistics corridors.

“Our key objective is to reduce the costs of doing business and removing inefficiencies and reducing the impediments that the logistics system has placed on businesses and their long-term sustainability.

“Through these interventions we are also attempting to improve the living conditions of those isolated by geographic locations from the mainstream economies,” said the minister.

Branching out

The department has also embarked on an initiative to revitalise the branch-lines across the country particularly within the small towns as a way of activating the economic potential in remote areas.

The department has identified seven other of branch-lines to be revived. These are the KwaZulu-Natal midlands timber cluster; Nkwalini line; Eastern Free State maize cluster; Belmont to Douglas; Krugersdorp to Ramatlabama; De Aar to Nakop; and the Natal South Coast.

Minister Radebe said the basis for choosing these lines was on their social and economic significance in the areas where they pass.

"As a result, our intervention is already breading life to small towns that were otherwise neglected - thus opening up access to social and economic opportunities.

“We therefore strongly believe that the refurbishment of branch-lines will help boost the economic participation of small communities,” said Minister Radebe.

Article published courtesy of BuaNews

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