/ 18 July 2023

Transport department outlines plans for public accessibility

Public Transport Failure
In a study released by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), 4 001 trucks and buses were recorded as being involved in fatal crashes from 1 January 2018 to 31 December 2022. (Photo by MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP via Getty Images)

In a study released by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), 4 001 trucks and buses were recorded as being involved in fatal crashes from 1 January 2018 to 31 December 2022, with over 3 413 deaths reported. 

KwaZulu-Natal reported the highest number in the country, with 21.6%, or 552 crashes, having caused deaths, from 2018 to 2022, while the Northern Cape recorded the lowest number of fatal crashes, with only 2.5% or 65 accidents.

“The number of fatalities is shocking and they need to be reduced. This can be done if drivers take precautions and be aware on the roads,” said RTMC spokesperson Simon Zwane.

To mitigate this, in June the Department of Transport gazetted its National Land Transport Strategic Framework (NLTSF) for 2023 to 2028, which aims to improve South Africa’s failing transport industry through various government structures.

The starting point was a review of provincial land transport frameworks and municipal integrated transport plans to make sure they were aligned with the NLTSF, said transport department spokesperson Collen Msibi. 

According to the gazette, the framework’s purpose is to provide a vision to guide the five-year framework for “integrated land-use transport planning” and “to align transport to sustainable economic development and universal accessibility”.

The framework outlines the key strategic objectives that government structures should focus on over the next five years to revive the transport sector:

·     A much-improved sustainable public transport system with better and safer access to amenities, more frequent and better-quality services and facilities to an agreed standard;

·     A universally accessible transport system;

·     Greater mobility options for those who do not have a car with safer and easier cycling and walking facilities;

·     Better infrastructure, links and interchange with other means of transport;

·     A transport system that is consistent with the real needs of people living in different parts of South Africa and with differing abilities to afford travel;

·     A transport system that supports focused funding of transport priorities;

·     Sufficient institutional human capital to support the transport vision and

·     A response that supports the development of transport in rural areas.

The department has noted that problems have hampered growth, mainly the inefficiency and fragmentation of its transport systems.

“Public transport integration, safety, universal accessibility and efficiency remain a constant challenge, despite the amount of money spent on their Integrated Public Transport Networks programme and subsidies,” it said.

The gazette also highlights the state of South Africa’s transport infrastructure, which affects road users.

The department has suggested safer and more accessible infrastructure for non-motorised transport, including walking and cycling, which is also part of its aim to reduce carbon emissions.

“Changing these problems requires a change in focus, and a far greater emphasis on walking and cycling, which would automatically reduce the amount of carbon consumed.”

The department proposed unimpeded — no light poles, road signs or informal traders — 2m wide pavements and 1.5m wide cycle lanes as a standard requirement for all municipal roads.

In 2018, the World Health Organisation ranked South Africa 136 of 175 participating countries regarding road safety. This ranking concluded that South Africa falls within 30% of the poorest performing countries regarding the relative risk of dying in a road crash.