Rail expansion ‘to boost SA economy’

first_img5 February 2014 The upgrading and expanding of South Africa’s rail network will relieve the burden on the roads, significantly increase the country’s export capacity and stimulate further investment and job creation, says Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba. Speaking at a briefing in Pretoria on Monday, Gigaba said a total of 6 405 kilometres of rail would be replaced on South Africa’s general freight, coal and ore lines, increasing the country’s freight capacity by 149.7-million tonnes. “Existing logistics corridors will be expanded and new ones will be established, and 1 317 new locomotives and 25 000 new wagons will be procured [over the next five years],” he said. “We will be able to increase our exports of coal by over 50%. Our ability to move general freight on rail will have more than doubled in capacity, and Transnet’s container handling capacity will increase by 75%.”Catalysts for further investment, employment Gigaba said that state-owned companies were acting as catalysts for additional investment in the economy. Infrastructure development was a critical stimulant, Gigaba said, with Eskom planning to invest over R500-billion in the economy over the next five years, and Transnet set to invest over R300-billion over a seven-year period. State-owned companies falling under the Department of Public Enterprises invested R53-billion in the economy three years ago, Gigaba said; this year they would be investing over R113-billion – an increase of over 100%. “Our infrastructure state-owned companies are already key providers of employment, and with the additional infrastructure capacity that will be built, [they] will become even more important sources of employment.” By 2017, he said, Transnet alone would support the direct and indirect employment of approximately 30 000 people. The company had also secured R175-million from the Department of Higher Education and Training to recruit and train 1 000 learners to study maritime engineering. “State-owned companies are playing a leading role in skills development and will be investing over R2.8-billion in the current financial year,” he added. “Over the last year, more than 16 000 learners were trained in scarce and critical learning programmes within state-owned companies of the DPE.” Also addressing Monday’s briefing, outgoing Eskom CEO Brian Dame said the power utility was “serious about helping black business to bloom”, and that Eskom had “finalised the structure of a fund for developing mines to assist emerging black miners”. Gigaba added: “By 2015, we will ensure that over 50% of coal for Eskom comes from black miners.” Source: SAnews.govlast_img read more

Into the city

first_imgHotel reviewNovel ExperienceClose to the airport, buzzing with newly built swanky offices, the satellite township of New Town – Rajarhat area needed a new hotel. And the 347-room Novotel, run by the Accor Group, is more than poised to meet this challenge. With its clean, contemporary design, the hotel is,Hotel reviewNovel ExperienceClose to the airport, buzzing with newly built swanky offices, the satellite township of New Town – Rajarhat area needed a new hotel. And the 347-room Novotel, run by the Accor Group, is more than poised to meet this challenge. With its clean, contemporary design, the hotel is visible from the main road and is in the relatively more populated part of the area. The sense of space and ample lighting give the lobby a welcoming vibe. And of course, there are those two magic words that light up the faces of smartphone toting guests-free Wi-Fi. There’s also a Web Corner available in the hotel.ROOMSNovotel offers three kinds of rooms-superior rooms, executive rooms and suites, all are understated and chic. Concealed lighting gives them a no fuss atmosphere. Novotel also has service apartments designed for a longer stay and many amenities are provided with a thought towards the tired business traveller. They also have certain facilities for the single female traveller-the hotel has installed an intercom with a camera outside the door so that guests can screen and monitor those who come calling.FOODWith a French brand one would expect an emphasis on all things French when it comes to cuisine. It came as a surprise, however, that the French touch was restricted to the bakery, while the dinner buffet focuses mainly on Indian, Chinese and Continental cuisines. And their breakfast spread is truly outstanding.UPCOMINGRecently opened in the hotel is a 1000-person open air banquet area. Also in the pipeline is a pan Asian and oriental speciality restaurant. TARIFF Rs 18,000 onwards AT CF 11 Action Area 1C, New Town Rajarhat TEL 40323333advertisementBy Malini BanerjeeImmortalised in waxAcharya Jagadish Chandra Bose, Mamata Banerjee, Shah Rukh Khan and Diego Maradona-the Mother’s Wax Museum in Rajarhat has a motley mix of statues. The museum has 19 life-size wax replicas, fashioned by artist Sushanta Ray. Literary masters Rabindranath Tagore and Kaji Nazrul Islam occupy the same hall as singers Manna De, Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar.Kolkata’s sporting legends and heroes make it to the museum as well. A statue of Sourav Ganguly sits right next to that of the legendary Maradona. But if an Argentinean footballer makes it, how can Brazil be left behind? The replica of bucktooth Ronaldinho stands with his hands on his hips, with a football by his feet. While statues of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and President Pranab Mukherjee could almost pass off as the real deal, the replica of Suchitra Sen, Kolkata’s best known beauty is disappointing. With a broad nose and wide grin, the actor looks like a rather unfortunate caricature. In fact, she’s not the only cinematic legend who’s portrayal suffers. Shahrukh Khan’s replica was also a disappointment. At New Town Financial Hub, opposite Eco-Tourism Park Entry Rs 150By Malini BanerjeeRestaurant reviewA Regal RepastAaira means royal in Arabic. And we had quite the royal treatment at the fine dining Indian restaurant when we dropped in for lunch on a weekday. The sixty-seater dine den is done up with a lot of Mughal elements. Huge Zardozi paisleys adorn the wall. Intricately carved screens that look like old doors and windows of Rajasthani forts divide the tables. The small bar in the corner has a front built entirely of white onyx that can be backlit during evenings.The food, like the decor, is a balance of over-the top dishes as well as simple, hearty fare. The paalak shorba, buttery, light and flavourful, is the perfect example in which the focus is on simplicity. The chef’s special Dhingri Shabnami looks like a vada pao, but is actually batter fried mushrooms stuffed with spicy vegetables. While it’s pleasant enough, the coating and spices seem to drown out the natural flavours of the mushroom. Among the mains and the side dishes, the dabba gosht met the same fate as the mushrooms. Juicy shredded mutton curry was wrapped in an egg roll and served. While it’s certainly a novel way of presenting a dish, it served to detract attention from the meat instead of highlighting it. The Kerala-style fish moilee was quite the opposite. It was light and the sweetness of coconut milk gravy perfectly complemented the juicy slices of Kolkata bekti.But what impressed us most was their fish biryani. A biryani is difficult to pull off most of the time, a fish biryani even more so. But to keep the flavours intact and yet not drown it in spices was a feat indeed. It was presented in a big potli made of paratha dough (the biryani is actually even cooked inside the dough). They cut it open right in front of you and as its aroma wafts across the room, you can’t help but salivate. This one’s a winner. MEAL FOR TWO Rs 1,500 AT Aaira, first floor, 20G, Park StreetadvertisementBy Malini BanerjeeListingsDressed to the ninesEthnic and western wear boutique Niine by Niine turned three recently and celebrated it with the launch of a new ethnic wear collection. Sheer anarkalis worn over contrasting churidars, dhoti pants, shararas, and monotone lehngas with pop undertones made up the ethnic collection. The western line saw cocktail dresses, evening gowns, wrap dresses in pop colours. PRICE Rs 700 onwards AT 9/9 Ekdalia Road, GariahatHeel itThere’s a one-stop store for all your ethnic and formal wear accessories now. On the ground fl oor, right next to Byloom, Footsee o ers a range of glittery slip-ons, slippers sandals and dainty heels. Done up in bright shades with a centrally placed swing, Footsee is geared towards the trousseau shopper. Shoes aren’t the only accessories available here. You can take your pick from clutches, batuas and minaudieres to match your ethnic fi nery. AT Footsee, ground floor, City Centre PRICE Rs 2,500 onwardsOf meals and martinisThere’s a new watering hole in town. That too in the heart of Kolkata’s party zone-Park Street. The 4,000 sq ft pub is done up with raw finished wood and stone interiors. Built along the lines of gastro pub, M Bar and Kitchen is divided into two kinds of seating areas-a more pub set up with high tables and another section with low seats and a lounge feel. On the menu fi nd a global European spread including sliders, grills, pizzas and more. Also part of the package is a bit of drinking and dancing. EVENING FOR TWO Rs 2,500 AT 24, Park Street TEL 40078686last_img read more