The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the announcement by President Zuma that a railway link joining East London and Durban is set to be built. (Ambitious plan to link coastal cities, Daily Dispatch, November 21.) This is an initiative that I have been calling for in the Provincial Parliament for the last two years.
A railway link of this nature will pave the way for the upliftment of communities in Butterworth, Dutywa and Mthatha. So far the communities mentioned have only benefited slightly from the Agri-tourism industry. Having a functional railway will allow the community nodes to transform to light industry nodes — such as East London — where medium to large business can invest and make significant dents in the unemployment rate of the province’s most rural areas.
The knock-on effects of employing people in this area are paramount to other factors in the rest of the province. A surge of employment in the former Transkei would result in a significant decrease in the migration of job-seekers to the Buffalo City- and Nelson Mandela Metro’s, thus decreasing unemployment and subsequently crime in both the areas.
Job-seekers that can work where they live, will lead to stronger family bonds, less traffic congestion and accidents travelling to-and-fro, meaning less child-headed households and less dependency on the welfare system.
The development of the railway will be a significant nail in the coffin of the legacy left by the apartheid regime of completely avoiding “black homelands” in its transport and development network.
Currently for East London to ship goods via rail, it would have to go via Bloemfontein and Johannesburg to Durban. The proposed direct route will be a major boost towards Buffalo City’s drive to be ready to move from being a light industry node to a heavy industry one.
Now is the time for the province to drive the development of a safe, secure and well built railway line. However, the province must also ensure that every effort is made to minimise the impact this project will have on the environment along our beautiful coastline.
John Cupido, MPL.
DA provincial spokesperson on economic development, environmental affairs and tourism,