South Africa: Road to Rail Paved With Good Intentions, but Realities of Cable Theft and Vandalism Threaten to Thwart the Noble Goal

opinion

Transport freight rail is the backbone in the movement of material. It is also worth noting that Transnet Freight Rail, beset by many problems, is the state-owned logistics company's biggest operating division.

Even the best of intentions can have adverse outcomes. Intent, sometimes, does not necessarily equate to efficacy. There are too many factors and variables that can influence the usefulness of stated aims versus consequences. It is often the latter, which is more tangible and measurable, that can shape public perception.

In my previous life, "Olivia Pope-ing", one of the most fascinating aspects of the job was sitting and listening in on policy committee meetings. In this realm, unfiltered views permeated and were ventilated. There was a refreshing frankness, but also a debilitating sense of déjà vu. Truly, there was no shortage of roundtable discussions.

A recurring theme was the state of the transport sector from a commercial perspective. In particular, the quest to shift the movement of bulk goods from road to rail. There are a multiplicity of factors that have slowed the realisation of this goal, chief among these being the fact that freight rail is the purview of a state monopoly.

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