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Changes coming to unsustainable use of Cape Town's roads

Feb 14 2016 11:00
Carin Smith

Cape Town -  The City of Cape Town wants to ensure that future generations do not pay inequitably for the cost associated with the current unsustainable use of Cape Town’s road infrastructure, the City’s Mayoral Committee member for transport for Cape Town, councillor Brett Herron, said on Sunday.

"New road infrastructure is costly and takes years to construct. We must respond to the predicted growth in road-based freight, in part with new infrastructure, but also by improving the location of the main logistics centres, warehousing, depots and distribution centres across the city so that freight operators can reduce the number of trips needed," he explained.

"While there is a need to preserve the current existing infrastructure, the City is also under obligation to plan ahead for future freight growth."

In order to address these challenges, Transport for Cape Town, the City’s transport authority, has developed a freight management strategy in accordance with the National Land Transport Act.

This draft freight management strategy wants to ensure that freight transport within Cape Town is safe and efficient, serves the needs of the economy without compromising the access and mobility of other road users and that freight operators comply with regulations. The City has now made this draft available for public comment.

"Our local and regional economy is based on global trade and depends largely on the efficient road-based transport of cargo to and from the port, airport and between cities and towns. The City is responsible for the provision of a safe, efficient and reliable road network," said Herron.

"We must, however, also take into consideration the significant impact that road-based freight has on the city’s roads and the urban environment. Counting among the effects are carbon emissions, congestion and road accidents."

The cost of maintenance of Cape Town's roads amounts to R713m per year – a cost that, according to Herron, is currently not equitably divided between freight vehicles, public transport and private motor vehicles.

Last year the City’s Transport Development Index (TDI) found that the direct transport cost - including fuel, salaries, maintenance, repairs and toll fees - for freight operators is R1.755bn per year. The cost of congestion for freight operators is R121m per year, the impact of freight transporters on Cape Town’s residents in terms of accidents is R930m per year and the impact of freight transporters on the city’s road network - capital expenditure and maintenance - is R713m per year.

Research also found that there is significant growth in road-based freight along Cape Town’s major roads due to the growth in fast moving consumer goods worldwide, while rail’s share of freight has declined dramatically.

On top of that the port of Cape Town - the major generator of freight - has expansion plans to roughly triple its current container handling services in the next 20 years.

"Overloading of freight vehicles has a significant impact on the road network, leading to roads deteriorating prematurely and the city’s roads are congested for many hours of the day and freight transport exacerbates the situation," said Herron.

"Overloading and freight-related transgressions are not adequately addressed, penalties are low and self-regulation is rarely embraced, noise and air pollution from freight operations are reason for concern and the transportation of hazardous materials is uncontrolled and insufficiently regulated."

The draft strategy, therefore, proposes certain interventions to reduce the impact of road-based freight on our urban environment.

Two things are very clear for Herron: Rail must be part of the plan and innovative solutions are needed to reduce the overall cost of doing business in Cape Town.

"It is our intention to liaise with stakeholders again during the upcoming participation process to address any concerns, proposals and comments relating to the draft strategy. I would also like to encourage the public and interested parties to please read the draft document and to air their views," said Herron.

"We do not have all of the answers and would value input and comments to assist us in refining the strategy."
 
The draft strategy will be available at libraries, sub-council offices and on the City’s website from February 19 until March 23 2016 when the public participation process will be concluded.

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