Go! Dur­ban team get down to the nitty gritty

Weekend Witness - - News - GABISILE NG­COBO

THE eThek­wini trans­port depart­ment team that is ex­pected to im­ple­ment the city’s am­bi­tious In­te­grated Rapid Trans­port plan, took to buses, taxis, trains and bi­cy­cles yes­ter­day to get a taste of what reg­u­lar com­muters ex­pe­ri­ence on a daily ba­sis.

This in­cluded sit­ting in a taxi ham­mer­ing deaf­en­ing house mu­sic, and stand­ing in a stuffy bus in yes­ter­day’s 33 de­grees Cel­sius, as the eThek­wini Trans­port Au­thor­ity staff toured the city and town­ships by pub­lic trans­port.

The aim was to ex­pose those plan­ning the in­te­grated rapid pub­lic trans­port net­work — known as Go! Dur­ban — to com­muters’ hard­ships.

“Now we’re about to ex­pe­ri­ence the stand­ing ca­pac­ity,” one em­ployee quipped as he stepped into an air­less, crammed bus.

Com­muter Ntando Phakathi, who uses a train daily from Um­lazi to Eff­in­g­ham Heights, said the trains are of­ten not on sched­ule, re­sult­ing in him get­ting to work late even though he leaves home at 5 am.

The head of the trans­port au­thor­ity, Thami Many­athi, said the ex­pe­ri­ence had helped him iden­tify the ar­eas he’d like to fix.

He said some of the trans­port modes lack air­con­di­tion­ing, an es­sen­tial in Dur­ban’s hot weather, while the lack of in­te­gra­tion be­tween the modes caused frus­tra­tion.

But all th­ese could be con­signed to the past if the prom­ises of the In­te­grated Rapid Trans­port plan are de­liv­ered.

The city says the Go! Dur­ban net­work will see the de­vel­op­ment of nine cor­ri­dors linked to var­i­ous modes of trans­port across the city by 2027.

The ini­tia­tive aims to pro­vide af­ford­able and ac­ces­si­ble trans­port by con­nect­ing dif­fer­ent ar­eas and pro­vid­ing trans­port in ar­eas not pre­vi­ously ser­viced.

Many­athi said the first phase of the project will start in the city cen­tre next year, with other cor­ri­dors to fol­low.

City man­ager S’bu Sit­hole said about R15 bil­lion will be pumped into the project, which he be­lieves will also cre­ate job op­por­tu­ni­ties while elim­i­nat­ing con­ges­tion on the high­ways. He said the city as­pires to have an ef­fi­cient trans­port sys­tem like Ja­pan has.

PHOTO: MATTHEW MIDDLETON

The head of the eThek­wini trans­port au­thor­ity, Thami Many­athi, ap­proaches the fin­ish line of the Go! Dur­ban Amaz­ing Race. The aim of the day was to ex­pose those in­volved in plan­ning the in­te­grated rapid pub­lic trans­port net­work to com­muters’ ev­ery­day...

PHOTO: MATTHEW MIDDLETON

Com­peti­tors in the Go! Dur­ban Amaz­ing Race par­tic­i­pate in team­build­ing chal­lenges along the route.

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