South Africa

ANC steamed up about pipe dreams

Everybody’s doing a brand new dance now: (Come on, baby, do the loco-motion) 

I know you’ll get to like it if you give it a chance now 

(Come on, baby, do the loco-motion) 

We wonder if the strains of the iconic Little Eva rock ditty are wafting through the ivory tower offices of Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi, who this week announced that his government is planning to build a high-speed rail link between Gauteng and Limpopo.

This, he reckons, will enable the “smart” province of Gauteng to “take advantage of bigger rural provinces so that their growth must influence our growth”. 

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Gauteng MEC for roads and logistics Kedibone Diale-Tlabela said Gauteng was following the international move to make significant investments in mass transit systems, including high-speed trains, light rail and bus rapid transit.

Let’s “unpack” a little of that hype.

We have a high-speed rail system in the province, called Gautrain, which effectively only caters for an urban, employed elite and has sucked up tens of billions of rands in taxpayer subsidies.

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Then, our vaunted Reya Vaya bus service has never lived up to its promise of alleviating commuter strain.

And, of course, spending more mega-billions on a rail project when our existing Transnet-operated rail freight is so abysmal that mining companies cannot export and are threatening retrenchments because of this.

Never mind that CBDs in Johannesburg and Pretoria are deteriorating into lawless slums while vast sprawling shanty towns are springing up everywhere.

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Our ANC rulers have never been good at tackling problems—many of which they caused in the first place—preferring the glitz and glamour of pie-in-the-sky mega projects… no doubt because these can be milked by the comrades.

They, of course, are insulated from the harsh realities of the average South African’s every day struggles.

But at least we can ride the rails—until they’re stolen, that is …