This week, the provincial governments of Limpopo and Gauteng proposed building a new high-speed train connecting the two regions. The route would link South Africa’s biggest city, Johannesburg with a town nearest to the Zimbabwean border called Musina. The so-called "bullet train" would look to slash the six-hour travel time between the cities.
This new rail route is raising eyebrows online, and many commentators have been skeptical about Musina, the destination. The Limpopo-based town is one of the most northerly places in the country. It’s the last significant urban location one comes to before reaching the Beitbridge border post, at the southern tip of Zimbabwe.
Although there are plans to grow this town further, the public is concerned about its small size and population of less than 40 000. Analysts have questioned whether the small city really needs its own bullet train to reach Johannesburg.
South Africans have a lot of questions, and the comments on social media have mostly been characterized by complete bewilderment. They have requested an explanation from the government regarding the need to transport goods and services from Johannesburg to Musina.
Others were taken aback when they learned for the first time about the tiny city. I've never once heard of Musina until this very proposal. What am I going to do there?, one commenter wrote.
A number of government initiatives have recently faced popular skepticism due to corruption by the elite. Many see these advances as ways to benefit the elite, who will be handed bribed contracts to buy the many parts required to construct the train. Political leader-related corruption trials and scandals have increased in South Africa.
Some have suggested that considering bullet trains at a time when a nation is experiencing its worst energy crisis in decades is inappropriate. The government of Limpopo and Gauteng's proposal is seen as having the wrong priorities by the public. They contend that developing sustainable and scalable energy solutions is a more urgent problem that has to be resolved immediately.
However, a statement from both provincial governments argues that the plans to build a high-speed train link between Musina and Johannesburg are reasonable. They mention the need to swiftly transport commodities between two crucial strategic areas and to minimize road carnage in the area.
Despite the two provincial governments best efforts to provide an explanation, the proposed path continues to be controversial. The joint statement from the provincial governments says: "The establishment of a high-speed railway between Johannesburg and Musina would help to reduce carnage on the roads, especially on the N1.
Additionally, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region as a whole will benefit from the ease of moving goods and services between the two provinces thanks to the high-speed train.
According to the officials, the construction of the high-speed train is a crucial first step in establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area. Additionally, it will make a substantial contribution to Musina's industrialization as a gateway into the SADC region.
If the two provincial governments will move through with their proposals, it is still up in the air. The action has drawn criticism from users of social media platforms, and it is likely to face a lot of resistance from different parts of the community. The move, however, has been positively welcomed in the Limpopo province.