Keeping the wheels of South Africa turning
South Africa's transport infrastructure is among the most modern and well-developed in Africa. Our highway network is extensive and well-maintained, while our air, rail and shipping networks are the largest on the continent. All citizens have access to affordable public transport, which is being significantly boosted by the establishment of Integrated Public Transport Networks (IPTNs) in our cities.
Transport Month in October gives us the opportunity to take a closer look at the vitally important issue of transport and celebrate our achievements while also taking stock of our challenges.
Improving public transport
Over the past decade, one of government's priorities has been to provide safe, affordable and efficient public transport. IPTNs (utilising Bus Rapid Transit or BRT Systems) have been successfully developed in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Tshwane, George and Durban, and services will be running in 13 cities in the coming years.The IPTNs currently carry a combined total of over 100 000 people every weekday, greatly enhancing the quality of transport for members of the public, particularly people living with disabilities and elderly.
Minibus taxis remain the most popular mode of transport in South Africa, accounting for 65 percent of public transport users and providing more than 300 000 jobs.The Taxi Recapitalisation Programme has resulted in more than 70 000 unsafe taxis being taken off our roads to be replaced by newer, safer vehicles. Taxi associations are also being included in IPTN plans, so that they don't miss out on the economic opportunities provided by these networks.
Attention has also been focused on improving the quality of our passenger rail services, which transport millions of people every year. The railway modernisation programme is progressing well and includes the upgrading of signaling systems, construction of a rail manufacturing plant and manufacturing of 3 600 new trains.
The Department of Transport is finalising the approval of the White Paper on the National Rail Policy, which is designed to strengthen rail transport so that it serves as the backbone of national land transport by 2050.
Road safety and maintenance
Traffic accidents take a major toll on our society, with 14 000 fatalities occurring in 2017.The National Road Safety Strategy aims to reduce fatal crashes by 50 percent by the year 2030.The strategy hinges on four main objectives, namely: changing road user behaviour, developing infrastructure to improve pedestrian safety in particular, building effective governance, and improving our data and knowledge management.
Meanwhile, road maintenance is being effectively addressed through the S'hamba Sonke programme, which rehabilitated 4 345km of provincial roads in 2017. On a national level, users of our national highways will notice that these are always well-maintained and compare well with international standards.
The future of transport in South Africa looks bright, and government has emphasised its commitment to keep the wheels turning.
Phumla Williams, GCIS Acting Director-General.