Is it in the best interest of South Africa to shift freight traffic from road transport to rail?
I believe that it is in the best interest of South Africa to shift freight traffic from road transport to rail for various convincing and some obvious reasons. The most convincing reasons being a result of reduced road maintenance costs and congestion, greater safety on the roads, overall transport and logistics cost reductions, reduced overall impact of rising fuel prices and the fact that South Africa has an extensive rail network, connecting all major sea ports with the rest of South Africa, which is being completely underutilised. According to Van Niekerk and Moreira(2002:17), the poor road network conditions have been largely due to the increased diversion of rail freight to road transport. This puts large amounts of pressure on our roads and has led to shorter life spans of road infrastructure and increased road hazards, due to overloading and the increased danger that large freight truck add to the roads. According to Transnet’s CEO, Siyabonga Gama in the article ‘Rail transport opportunities in South Africa,’ “rail should be the backbone for long distance (>250 km) heavy load freight volumes.” This is true because the cost per ton/km by rail is greatly reduced over long distances compared to road transport. This is especially relevant in South Africa where the majority of freight being moved is large quantities of minerals across long distances. This reduction is transport costs will lead to a stronger, more efficient economy and too lead to a minimised impact from rising fuel prices on the country. The costs of repairing rail routes and maintaining rail routes will be costly to the country for the first phase of rail rehabilitation, however the benefits will far outweigh the costs incurred from repairing roads due to over usage and the money saved by using this cheaper form of moving freight. According to SouthAfrica.info, it is a top priority of the...
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