Peter Bruce Columnist

Extract

If you were to ask any experienced builder whether he would want to build a new city or fix an old one, they’d all choose the new-build. With old stuff, you never know what you’re getting or, worse, you do. There was nothing wrong with President Cyril Ramaphosa dreaming about new cities and high-speed trains running through the countryside when he made his state of the nation (Sona) address on Thursday night.

Naturally, he’s been mercilessly mocked and teased for it, but the people doing the teasing and mocking are the same ones screaming at him to do something to grow the economy. You want to get local industries up and running and selling to an internal market again? Build infrastructure.

And while the government can plan it, give the job to experienced private-sector hands to implement. The Spanish built a high-speed train line between Madrid and Seville in 1992. It looked madly expensive and sort of useless, critics wailed. What’s the point? But today it works. Poor people travel on high-speed trains all over the country now as more lines have been added.

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