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Chikunga: Women, young people 'must join old white men’ in transport sector

May 31 2017 20:08
Carin Smith

Leipzig – It is time for women and young people to join the “old white men” who still dominate South Africa’s transport industry, according to Deputy Minister of Transport Sindisiwe Chikunga.

“It is not about kicking people out of the industry. Radical economic transformation in the transport industry is about the transfer of skills and integration,” she told Fin24 at the 10th annual summit of the International Transport Forum (ITF) taking place in Leipzig.

“People in the transport industry are also ageing and that is why more young people need to be mentored to take on leadership roles. The issue of training is very important in the transport industry. That is why we also focus on recruiting in schools.”

Another way she would like to see the SA transport industry be transformed, would be for more South Africans to be able to use air transportation.

“We need to look at the issue of low cost airlines and how they can sustain themselves in terms of tariffs. We need to take conscious decisions regarding their existence,” explained Chikunga.

She said SA has good transport infrastructure, including in the aviation industry.

“What we don’t do well, however, is to make aviation transport available for ordinary men and women who still see flying as too expensive,” she said.

Infrastructure is a very important focus for Chikunga and especially the funding thereof.

“Without good roads, for instance, there will not be investments. We also need to know about the use of technology in building our infrastructure and creating jobs,” she said. “The same goes for rail, aviation and maritime transport.”

She said the very important discussion about maintaining SA’s existing infrastructure also needs to take place as a matter of urgency. Dealing with the impact of climate change on the transport industry and its infrastructure is a third important aspect for her.

“For me the main message I take from the ITF is that technology is here and I don’t think SA wants to be left behind. Yes, we have our own needs like job creation and creating equality, but the world moves fast and so we have to learn to move fast too,” she said.

*  Fin24 is a guest of the ITF at its summit.

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