Modern, Growing, Successful Province

Transport Investors Conference

I wish to extend a warm welcome to all the participants at this watershed event of the Transport Investors Conference. We welcome in particular, our Investors and hope that you enjoy the hospitality of our province beyond this conference.

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I am confident that this conference will provide a platform to all the participants to exchange innovative ideas and further engage in robust and constructive debates to meet the objectives of this milestone conference.

Ladies and Gentlemen, like many economic activities that are intensive in infrastructure, the transport sector is an important component of the economy impacting on development and the welfare of our people. When transport systems are efficient, they provide economic and social opportunities and benefits that result in positive multiplier effects such as better accessibility to markets, employment and additional investments. When transport systems are deficient in terms of capacity or reliability, they can have an economic cost such as reduced or missed opportunities.

While statistical correlations can be quite challenging, many past studies have found that transport infrastructure is an important determinant of economic growth, job creation and poverty reduction. This should be no surprise to us. First, transport is an integral part of nearly all goods and services. Without it, the goods and services would lose their value.

Secondly, Ladies and Gentlemen, improvements in transport infrastructure reduce the costs of transportation and improve its quality. This improves economic performance by making goods and services more competitive by stimulating growth in trade. Thirdly, extending a country's transport infrastructure spreads economic opportunities more widely, opening up areas that were previously disadvantaged because of their geographical location.

Speaking at an International Investors Conference, in Cape Town, the Minister of Transport, Mr Sbu Ndebele, stated that the root cause of the current status of our transport system is the historic under-investment of our country in its transportation sector; this especially in the face of ageing infrastructure, growing urban populations, global trading and the ongoing expansion of our economy.

Long-term development planning and effective resource allocation are critical factors for the realisation of the economic and social goals of our Transport Sector.

Minister Ndebele further remarked that the Department of Transport is mandated to provide safe, affordable, reliable, efficient, and fully integrated transport systems and infrastructure that best meet the needs of its users. As a consequence, the Department of Transport is tasked with providing transport infrastructure and services that are efficient and affordable to individuals and corporate users, while ensuring that we provide increasing levels of safety and security across all transport modes.

Programme Director, the Northern Cape Province offers an ideal opportunity for investors in the transport sector and related infrastructure development projects. Let me briefly highlight our key transport sector projects, which will provide a context within which to understand some of the projects which will be presented to you for investment at this conference:

De Aar Freight Transport Hub – the project aims to re-introduce rail transport as an alternative to road freight transport. The main rationale for commissioning a study for the modeling and development of the De Aar Freight Transport Hub was to revitalize the good rail infrastructure that is underutilized at De Aar. In addition the province was approached by especially the small-scale miners that needed a cost effective means of transporting and exporting their commodities, whilst still giving effect to the national directive of diverting road to rail transport.

Douglas/Belmont Rail Branch line – the rail branch line will serve as an expansion of infrastructure for economic growth, particularly in the agricultural sector. This project intends to upgrade the rail line to full capacity. Although the provincial government expended on the upgrading of part of this branch line in 2005/6, the line still functions at 50% capacity as that part that was not upgraded and can only accommodate wagons of 20 tons instead of the required 40 tons. This upgrading will see good job creation opportunities, not only for the labour required to upgrade the line, but also from the prospects of a canning factory in the area and the additional jobs to move the commodity loads from the added tonnage.

Upington International Airport Cargo Hub – the project will promote the airport and air services development, as it has been identified as the airport with the longest runway in the southern hemisphere. A feasibility study into the viability of developing the Upington International Airport Hub, suggested the commissioning of a Special Purpose Vehicle between government and the private sector, in the form of Public Private Partnerships. Commodities that will potentially go through this hub, once developed, are fish, meat, fruit and motor vehicle components.

Port Nolloth Harbour development – the project aims to re-habilitate and re-develop the harbour and turn it into a serviceable port. Port Nolloth, Alexander Bay and Hondeklip Bay service the requirements of the local fishing and mining industries. When we develop and complete this infrastructure, we will see employment figures grow by 2500 over a 10 year span, for the fishing industry alone. In addition to the fishing and mari-culture industry, the port services off-shore oil and gas exploration. Recently, the discovery of granite in the area, also makes a compelling case for the rehabilitation of the port.

Although Port Nolloth is classified as a commercial port, it is currently not used as such. The Department of Transport, Safety and Liaison has interacted with the Department of Transport for the establishment of a Ports Consultative Committee (PCC), which in terms of the National Ports Act advises the Minister on any matter related to the activities in the port. We await confirmation from the Department of Transport that this PCC will be launched in Port Nolloth on 21 November 2011.

Ladies and gentlemen, there are many challenges facing our country to develop its transport infrastructure as an instrument for economic and social development. I hope that this week's high-level conference will provide you with many lessons and ideas that will be useful to your business objectives.

As it was earlier indicated, the objective of the Northern Cape Transport Investors’ Conference is to source investment for the key transport infrastructure projects and to enter into Private Public Partnerships with the private sector. We are unable to develop, maintain and rehabilitate these projects out of the coffers of the provincial government alone and implore those that make use of the infrastructure to take hands with us and “transport” our province to greater heights.

Ladies and Gentlemen, transport is a major part of our country’s operations and we are committed to form partnerships to build sustainable transport solutions according to their needs. I'd like to thank the Department of Transport and Safety for this excellent initiative and wish you all a meaningful and rewarding conference.

I Thank You!

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