South Africa used to hold the prestige of the best railway system in Africa but now this transport sector is a shell of its former self.
Corruption, mismanagement, and an organized crime syndicate targeting copper and scrappable materials…These are the root causes of the railway’s deterioration and why for most areas in the country, rail travel has a deserved stigma of an unsafe and unreliable transport solution.
Today, safety is at the forefront of our modern rail projects such as the Gautrain and the newer Alstom trains in the Western Cape. Rail transport is making a massive comeback globally as a technology with many secure economies attempting to shift back to rail after an over-reliance on airplane travel.
While this is fantastic as a solution to cut greenhouse gas emissions, this was never the case for South Africa as flights are not a realistic form of transportation for a large majority of our people.
The role of this new law is not only to boost the safety of rail but also to help ensure a new standard for rail throughout the country.
In addition, the new safety laws boost accountability in the sector with a new report system for injuries, collisions, and other breakdowns in the rail system. The key part of this is its ability to hold contractors and subcontractors accountable.
This is important as the process of tenders and poor service delivery is a problem that runs rampant in our country. This is a step in the right direction towards a future where corruption is far easier to spot and subsequently report.
Rail is the future of this country and will be vital if we seek to offer citizens who are disadvantaged by their geolocation access to reliable and affordable transport.
Once this gap is reduced the economic impact of a safe and reliable rail system will connect our country like never before.
We welcome and support the Bill.