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The Decline of the South African Economy

Edited by Stuart Jones

South Africa’s leading economists adopt within this volume a sectoral approach in their analysis of the drastic changes that have occurred within the South African economy since 1970. The book illustrates how, despite its sophisticated infrastructure, the South African economy has shared in the economic decline – resulting from misguided economic policies – that has been the experience of Sub-Saharan Africa.
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Chapter 7: The frieght transport sector, 1970-2000

Trevor Jones


15580_DeclineSAfrica/Chap7 31/5/02 12:57 pm Page 1 7. The freight transport sector, 1970-2000 Trevor Jones INTRODUCTION 7.1 The role of the transport sector in any modern economy is to generate a broad infrastructure and set of associated services that integrates diverse social and economic actors within and beyond the nation. Passenger transport moves persons from areas of lower to higher utility for the purposes of work, recreation or residence; freight transport moves goods from less-productive to more-productive areas of employment, and realizes the potential gains from trade by linking national economies into a globalizing international community. In the 1970s and 1980s, the South African transport sector limited its cohering services to a minority of the overall population, and for the most part it served that community well, sometimes remarkably well. World-class ports were constructed to funnel bulk exports to world markets, in order to finance domestic import substitution. The rail system was re-modelled to service these ports, and maintained a network of high-density and low-cost (if subsidized) passenger services to shuttle black commuters over relatively long distances between dormitory townships and urban industries. World-class national roads linked cities occupied by residents enjoying high levels of private car ownership, and generally adequate roads served commercial agriculture. Other groups were less well served. Major rural communities were excluded from the transport network, leaving numbers of low-income persons stranded; peri-urban residents distant from commuter rail services were left to the mercies of chaotically-organized taxi and bus services; and general freightorientated industries were...

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