China mulls Johannesburg-Durban high-speed rail project in South Africa

China is reportedly in active negotiations with South African officials over the construction of a high-speed rail line that would link two of the country’s economic hubs, Johannesburg and Durban. The train project is said to have been in the works for nearly a decade, but only recently came to life.

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Speaking at the JobFairSA 2022 event, Chen Xiaodong, the Chinese Ambassador to South Africa, explained that China is collaborating with South Africa on important projects such as the high-speed railway linking Johannesburg and Durban. The ambassador further explained that China is willing to work with South Africa to deepen and broaden China-Africa relations, adding that 100 Chinese companies want to create 20,000 new jobs in the economy over the next three months. years.

Why the Johannesburg-Durban high-speed train has been on the pipeline for so long

The main obstacle to the construction of the proposed railway line, which would represent South Africa’s largest expenditure in a single transport project, is money. Since 2010, then Minister of Transport Sibusiso Ndebele announced that plans for the project were being finalized, and despite several Chinese companies offering to donate money to the project, nothing tangible ever came of it.

Currently, the project seems to be more of a pipe dream than a serious investment opportunity. Only those in the political space show enthusiasm, and non-politically aligned organizations, such as the US credit rating agency FitchSolutionspublished a “negative outlook” on the construction of railway infrastructure in South Africa.

FitchSolutions believes that the project will never be completed due to its extremely high costs, the project which has dragged on for more than a decade, the government’s limited fiscal capacity to fund such a project and the likely limited interest of the private sector for the financing of such a project. a massive ordeal.

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Jose P. Rogers