DA TO FIGHT FOR REINSTATEMENT OF APPLE EXPRESS SUBSIDY

The article “End of the line for Apple Express” The Herald, November 26, refers:

The Democratic Alliance will be campaigning to save the Apple Express train from extinction by having its operational subsidy reinstated by the Department of Transport.

I will this week be raising the issue in my speech on the 2008/09 Provincial Transport annual report on Wednesday. Together with my DA Metro council colleagues we will engage with the MEC for Transport and other role players in the province if necessary.

The Apple Express is world famous.

The withdrawing of the subsidy by the department is contradictory to its 2008 “Back to Rail” policy introduced in the province.

A decline in tourism, further lack of economic development of the Metro and curtailed work creation will be the result of this irresponsible action from the department.

We, the citizens of the Metro and Province must stand together and must not allow this world renowned tourist attraction to be tossed away due to the ineptness of a provincial government department.

Apart from being one of the top six narrow gauge train operations in the world, this Port Elizabeth icon runs on the longest narrow gauge line in the world.

In addition, the train crosses the bridge at Van Staden’s River, the highest narrow gauge bridge in the world and one of only two remaining narrow gauge steam lines in the world.

The R100 000 per month operational subsidy pales in comparison to previous wasteful expenditures incurred by the department.

Why should the Apple Express programme have to suffer as a result?

This train is part of our Port Elizabeth, provincial and national heritage and its operations and viability must be protected at all costs for the enjoyment of current and future generations.

Dacre Haddon, MPL

DA spokesperson on Transport

Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature