Paper presented at the 20th Annual South African Transport Conference 16 - 20 July 2001 "Meeting the transport challenges in Southern Africa", CSIR International Convention Centre, Pretoria, South Africa. ABSTRACT: This paper examines the nature of the transport infrastructure inherited by SADC member states from apartheid and colonial driven governments of the past and concludes that the inherited infrastructure is no longer suitable. It calls for the debate on the role of investment in transport
infrastructure development and urge that the debate should be wide ranging and inclusion of different people and professions. The advantages of investment in transport infrastructure development are explained and high returns of investors are also demonstrated and warn that empowerment should form part of the initiatives. The destructive nature of competition by SADC
member states is discouraged and the proposal is made for the founding of a regional rail company which should own and operate rail transport in the region as a strategy to avoid harmful competition between SADC member states and to protect those countries in the region whose rail lines continue to experience heavy losses. Competition between rail and road can only be
normalized by proper policies and the National Department of Transport is urged to intervene. The social aspect against the commercial motive of investment in infrastructure development is explained and for that reason the calculation of the return on investment will differ and also form the basis of the nature of the transport infrastructure.
The paper concludes by calling for the introduction of proper policy guidelines to ensure that transport infrastructure development is not divorced from the needs of people in the region such as empowerment and the transfer of skills.
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