Road infrastructure in Gauteng remains a challenge and the province needs a plan to tackle issues related to the future outlook and layout of road infrastructure and expansions, as well as road safety and upgraded public transport systems, Gauteng Roads and Transport MEC Ismail Vadi said at the Transport Forum’s Month of Transport Celebrations event held at the University of Johannesburg earlier this month.
He explained that the Gauteng provincial government wanted Johannesburg to become a globally competitive city in the next 44 years.
To achieve its target, government needed to have an infrastructure plan that took future development and expansion into consideration, he said.
“Cities expand – they do not wait for government to catch up. Thirty years ago, we did not expect Pretoria and Johannesburg to nearly touch each other, and now we have issues with congestion and accidents on roads linking these cities,” said Vadi.
He explained that there were nine-million registered vehicles in South Africa of which four-million were registered in Gauteng. The province also has the highest population and the smallest geographical space, making a solid public transport and road infrastructure plan, which takes future developments into account, essential.
“The population of Gauteng is expected to double by 2015. This means we will have to upgrade our existing public transport systems and design new ones as well,” he said.
He noted that the first phase of the Rea Vaya bus rapid transit (BRT) system was already operational in Johannesburg and the city expected to have the second phase operational in the next couple of months.
A BRT system was also planned for Pretoria and was expected to be opera- tional by early 2013, Vadi said.
“Ekurhuleni also needs a BRT system and, even though it is challenging to link the nine towns that make up the Ekurhuleni metro, it will help commuters to get from nearby townships to key business areas,” he added.
Further, Vadi also commented on the state of the taxi industry, which comprises about 47 000 taxis, transporting 60% of the province’s working people.
“The industry is dangerous, noncompliant and unregulated. We need to transform the industry step by step,” he said.
Meanwhile, green transport and the protection of the environment are also a priority for Vadi.
“We are faced with a serious challenge. We are damaging our environment, and now we are starting to notice the effects on our roads and on the climate,” said Vadi.
He explained that improved, sustainable management of road freight fleets was needed to encourage a healthy logistics system.
“We must focus on improving the country’s rail infrastructure to decrease the cargo loads carried on roads,” he concluded.