Leipzig – South Africa is facing three main challenges in reaching its goal of making transport accessible to all, Themba Tenza, chief director of research at the Ministry of Transport, told a global forum on Thursday.
He represented SA Minister of Transport
Dipuo Peters on a panel discussion on inclusive transport growth for low
density rural areas during the global summit of the International Transport
Forum (ITF) taking place in Leipzig this week. Peters had to withdraw from the panel
because she was feeling unwell.
Tenza said the challenges were income inequality, poverty
reduction and unemployment, with all three needing to “fit into” addressing the accessibility
“The question of rural transport in SA is
unique, because of our past – for instance the spacial planning of the past.
More than 50% of South Africans live in rural areas, but many of them are really
‘dual citizens’ due to being migrant workers,” Tenza told the panel.
“We have a transport strategy and we want
to focus on how technology can help to shorten transport distances between
train stations, for instance. We also want to rely on non-motorised transport
systems and projects like cycling for children.”
READ: Exciting times for transport innovation – Tesla
He emphasised that the issue of transport
accessibility must be an evidence-based approach. That is why a rural
accessibility index was done for rural transport.
“We devised a strategy to retain as much as
we can of what already exists and add value to it with, for instance,
beneficiation. We are also encouraging agri-processing units in rural areas,”
“Money is, unfortunately never enough, but
we are making a lot of progress.”
Jose-Luis Irigoyen, director of transport
and ICT global practice at the World Bank, who also participated on in the panel discussion, said the financial viability of transport services should be a very
important factor also regarding rural accessibility. This should remain at the
core of developmental goals.
In his view, the use of mobile phones –
especially increasing penetration of smart phones – will allow a better match
of supply and demand also in rural areas.