South Africa: Who Has the Most to Gain From Destroying Commuter Rail Networks?

opinion

Let us suppose that the burning of commuter trains is pure vandalism and criminality. It really is difficult to see what the motive would be: there seems to be little pecuniary gain from burning train carriages.

In last Thursday's State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Cyril Ramaphosa singled out the repair of "commuter rail" as a "key priority".

"A key priority this year is to fix commuter rail, which is vital to our economy and to the quality of life of our people... our rail network daily transports over a million commuters to and from work. We are modernising Prasa's rail network. The Central Line in the Western Cape and the Mabopane Line in Pretoria have been closed for essential refurbishment and upgrades. We are investing R1.4-billion in each of these lines to provide a safe, reliable and affordable service," Ramaphosa said.

He was, of course, correct. It's almost passé to repeat that the railway network forms the basis of all economic expansion, growth, distribution, consumption and general mobility. It gets people to their homes and places of work, it gets raw materials to production facilities, and consumer products, from food to clothing, to and from markets.

But that...

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