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SADC, Sara Launch New Railways Safety Standards

PAULINE DIKUELO
SADC Director Infrastructure, Mapolao Mokoena PIC: PHATSIMO KAPENG
The South African Regulatory Authority (SARA) has launched the new railways safety and standards aimed at addressing the low traffic volumes, loss of freight and passenger market share as well as undesired incidents.

SARA is a ‘Not-for-Profit’ regional association of railways in the SADC region, which was formed in 1996.

Speaking during the launch, SADC Director Infrastructure, Mapolao Mokoena said the regional railway low performance and loss in the market is to do with challenges in harmonised corridor pricing, rolling stock terms of resource sharing and cross-border interchange differences amongst others.

“The low performance is attributable to increasing backlog infrastructure maintenance and rehabilitation burden, the limited and reducing number of rolling stock, challenges in human capital skills and competencies on the one hand,” she said.According to SARA the 2018 annual report, SADC railways recorded to have transported a total of 11.4 million tonnes of international freight traffic, which implies that road trucks transported in excess of 44 million tonnes.

“Whilst we are seeing an overall growth in the trade volumes, in and out of the SADC region, the railways are only transporting no more than 15% of the total freight trade volumes,” she said.

Mokoena said all these problems could be summarised to the lack of enforceable

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railway safety and economic regulations.“As we have come to realise, railway safety and economic standards if complied to present numerous advantages,” she said. “Without a prescribed minimum acceptable condition of infrastructure or rolling stock, we shall see continued degradation of our railway assets and the resultant poor level of service will be a scare to existing and would-be customers,” she said.

In addition, she said the prolonged period of lack of standards implementations, which has had increasingly disastrous effects to our railway market. The resource demands in terms of financial, technical, institutional and management, and human capital skills to take us to a desirable minimum level as prescribed by the SADC railway standards is significant.

According to Mokoena, they prescribe the minimum conditions permissible for the State infrastructure and rolling stock as well as prescribe the market acceptable level of service and they secure private sector investment. In addition she said they prescribe for a conducive work environment and they enable safe and economical transportation of strategic economic trade commodities.



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