News Article - Agriculture
IDZ to focus on timber and auto industry
Posted on: Friday, 03 May 2002. Article source: Eastern Cape Business News
THERE ARE opportunities for investment in timber processing in the East London Industrial Development Zone (IDZ), says Eastern Cape Transport MEC Dennis Neer. Neer told a media conference that talks were at an advanced stage on a proposed Umtata-East London rail link, and that the line would be extended to take in the forests of the north-eastern part of the province. "As part of its development plan Hans Marensky Timbers expects to use the line to carry around 500 000 tons of timber a year to East London. We hope another 500 000 tons of goods for the rail service will come from agriculture in the area," Neer said, adding that the link was expected to be in service by 2004. East London Development Corporation CEO Peter Miles has said that timber beneficiation is a priority for the IDZ, with a chipboard plant being on the cards to supplement the large amount of raw timber being exported through the harbour. Neer says the railway line will create opportunities for the province "beyond our wildest expectations". Some R44 million has been provided in the budget for the project. Neer says the department's long-term vision for the project is to link Transkei with other economic hubs such as the Coega Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) and the IDZ in East London. There will also be investment in the roads infrastructure. "We envisage feeder roads that will link the rail line with inland forestry plantations, rural villages and the coastal resorts of Transkei." Trucks, buses and taxis will ferry freight and people to and from the railway stations and sidings." The MEC said that, from a road safety perspective, the Umtata-East London railway line would also assist in reducing overloading on roads and "bring about a shift in the balance in the carrying of both freight and passengers".
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