Investors Plan New Monorail Linking Soweto to Johannesburg
By MICHAEL WINES
JOHANNESBURG, May 16 - A Malaysian investor pledged on Wednesday to link central Johannesburg to its famous suburb, Soweto, via a 27-mile, $1.7 billion monorail to be built and operated entirely with private money.
The project could deliver huge economic benefits for Soweto, a once-impoverished township that has blossomed into an increasingly desirable residential area for South Africa's black middle class. It also would help with preparations for the 2010 World Cup soccer tournament, part of which will take place in Soweto.
The Malaysian consortium Newcyc plans to start construction in September and complete the light-rail system within two years, the group's chief, Jeyakumar Varathan, said in a statement. Mr. Varathan said that he and private investors, whom he declined to identify, would finance the first phase of the project.
He indicated that the consortium was also planning other investments. "Our vision is for 2020," the statement read. "We are speaking to the government on a daily basis, and we want South Africa's transportation to be 100 percent efficient by then."