It is internationally recognised that cities and municipal governments are key drivers for building resilience, facilitating social cohesion, mitigating and adapting to climate change conditions, and creating jobs, writes REHANA MOOSAJEE, Johannesburg MMC for Transport.
When executive mayor Parks Tau was appointed to lead the City of Johannesburg after the May local government elections, he expressed a keen desire to undertake a joint visioning exercise with all interest groups and residents, which resulted in the Growth and Development Strategy (GDS) 2040.
Launched in August this campaign is exciting for a variety of reasons. It is intended to be inclusive, intensive and to facilitate wide-ranging stakeholder and community engagement processes. More importantly, it is bold and open about the challenges.
Transport is a core component of urban living, central to the economy and the people, and therefore forms an integral part of the GDS. Years of under-investment in public transport infrastructure led to a legacy of ineffectiveness and reliance on private transport. Johannesburg has already taken massive corrective strides with the introduction of Rea Vaya, the country’s first Bus Rapid Transit system, and partnering in the Gautrain high-speed rail link to service the region.
Two important features define the city’s transport system, though: the majority of residents travel by bus, public rail or minibus taxis; and middle-income residents rely entirely on private car use. The associated challenges are that most public transport is not safe and reliable, and that the reliance on cars has created widespread congestion.
Increasing transport costs also present a problem. However, the introduction of Rea Vaya and the Gautrain provides opportunities and indicates that transport in the Johannesburg area is developing into a system of high-speed connecting hubs with a strong support base of feeder bus services.
This intensive outreach will culminate in a two-day international conference and the GDS summit on 20 October. For more information visit www.Joburg.org.za/gds2040.
In the week of 4 to 9 September, the focus will be on transport, and some vital issues will be highlighted:
4 September: Fun walk/cycle followed by dialogue with transport stakeholders on their vision for transport in 2040.
5 September: Seminar on ways to building the green economy with emphasis on job creation, green fleet and green fuel sources with fuel and vehicle manufacturers as well as all spheres of government.
6 September: Dialogue with labour and business about the impact of transport on productivity and growth in the area, questioning what needs to be done in respect of transport to contribute to improved productivity and growth.
7 September: Radio talk shows on community and mainstream radio stations on how communities through their own actions can act to improve road safety and other transport related issues.
8 September: Dialogue: Transformation of public transport operations with public transport operators including economic empowerment, employment equity and green issues and opportunities.
9 September: GDS Transport Indaba with key transport stakeholders to consolidate the issues raised during the week for inclusion into the final growth and development strategy draft.