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Without a proper transport system, the economy cannot grow

(Budget vote debate in Parliament: Transport)

The transport system of a country is one of the most important components of a healthy and growing economy, and the budget allocated to it reflects how much the government values it.

South Africa's public transport system has basically come to a standstill with an ever-shrinking budget.

The decline is so serious that taxis, which transport approximately 16 million people per day, have taken over the role of public transporter.

To remedy the situation, roads and the railway system must be upgraded and properly maintained. Therefore, it is encouraging to see that SANRAL does do good work where it is involved in improving roads.

The life-threateningly poor condition of provincial roads, however, needs urgent attention.

The problem in this regard is that provinces, in many cases, use their budgets for other purposes and do very little to no maintenance on roads.

One solution for this is to transfer the responsibility for all roads to SANRAL.

At present, South Africa's railway system is in a terrible condition, while it functioned exceptionally well in the previous dispensation.

Reasons for this include a separate railway police service that averted the paralysing impact of crime and guaranteed the safety of passengers. Transport costs were low, and the service was punctual and reliable.

To get this service functional again, the private sector must be involved. It is, therefore, encouraging that it is a prospect to look forward to.

Agriculture is one of the most important job creators in the country and yet, farmers in certain parts of the country have no choice but to maintain roads themselves, and incur great expenses to acquire vehicles because railway transport has collapsed.

The most dangerous road in South Africa is the R573 Moloto Road in Mpumalanga where more than 10 000 people have died in car accidents over the past 13 years.

Improving the railway system will do much to relieve the pressure on this road and save lives.

There is consensus in the parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport that the Department's budget must be supplemented, that senior positions must be filled, and that the pressure on the country's roads must be reduced by improving the railway system.

It is lamentable that the ANC government allowed the transport system to deteriorate so drastically. South Africa's people deserve better than the ANC.

 

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