An upgrade to the Eastern Cape's rail links with Gauteng, in addition to road improvements, should make the region’s ports more attractive as offset points for car manufacturers’ exports.

An upgrade to the Eastern Cape's rail links with Gauteng, in addition to road improvements, should make the region’s ports more attractive as offset points for car manufacturers’ exports.


The upgrade programme is part of a move to support development initiatives at both the Coega and East London industrial development zones. It forms part of Transnet's R80-billion infrastructure drive, aimed at meeting the needs of the industry and creating efficient linkages with Johannesburg.


East London industrial development zone (IDZ) chief executive Peter Miles told that a feasibility study to support the initiative had been finalised by roleplayers in the province and was now with finance MEC Enoch Godongwana, who will forward it to Public Enterprises Minister Jeff Radebe.


Miles was quoted as saying that BMW SA, Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa and other vehicle manufactures had indicated they would use East London for vehicle imports and exports if the systems were efficient and cost-effective.


At the moment, the antiquated East London-Johannesburg rail line requires trains to change locomotives and drivers five times to switch between diesel, direct current and alternating current electricity.


Miles said reports that Ford and BMW were considering using Maputo harbour in Mozambique because of the inefficiencies at the East London harbour.


“East London already has a motor vehicle terminal, but the National Ports Authority could build a new terminal, four times bigger than the current one,” Miles added.


Godongwana confirmed that a feasibility study had been completed into the upgrading of rail infrastructure in the province and would be passed to Radebe for consideration.


He said the Eastern Cape provincial government would invest R2,3 billion in road infrastructure in the current financial year, with another R7 billion earmarked for the next three years.