Monday, June 22: US Secretary of Transport Anthony Foxx met with South African Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters for bilateral talks lasting just under an hour, before being given a tour of of the transport services available to ordinary South Africans in Johannesburg. Secretary Foxx commuted on the Gautrain from the Sandton Station to Park Station, accompanied by Minister Peters, US Ambassador to South Africa Patrick Gaspard and Gautrain CEO Jack van der Merwe.
Upon arrival at the Park Station, a brief press conference was held where Gauteng Transport MEC Ismail Vadi welcomed the delegation to what he termed “Africa’s largest intermodal system.” Vadi went on to explain that the intermodality of the Park Station terminal, where long distance busses and taxis meet rail transport, is in line with both the Gauteng and national government’s medium term plan for commuting and travel in South Africa.
Ambassador Gaspard then took the podium, thanking the delegation for the tour of terminal saying, “I am used to being in this kind of noise. This terminal reminds me of Grand Central Station in New York.” Gaspard went on that of the story of the Gautrain, as well as the Park Station terminal was one of good news for the South Africa, and one in which the government could take pride.
Before the signing of the new memorandum of co-operation, the two department heads delivered brief remarks, with Minister Peters emphasizing that the document to be signed symbolized a partnership between the two countries that began in earnest in the field of transport in 2011.
Peters added that the MoC would narrow focus on maritime training to ensure South Africa economically leveraged its more than 3 000 km of coastline, allow the development of a closer working relationship between aviation training facilities and unlock potential solutions for driver training.
The Minister spoke of the emphasis placed on women participation in the transport sector and which is a new section in the memorandum. She stated that having female heads of department such as her and former U.S. Transport Assistant Secretary Susan Kurland in the field of transportation is a step in the right direction.
This was emphasized by Secretary Foxx, who relayed the story of a woman from the Compton, who was now in the transport field and lived closer to her workplace. Foxx said, “In the US, only about 10 percent of civil engineers are women. It should not be this way. Transportation can take more than people to work or home – it can take people to a better opportunity, especially women.”
The signing ceremony concluded with an exchange of gifts between Secretary Foxx and Minister Peters – to applause from all in attendance.