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Transport driving development

Written by: Chris Bathembu
This month government has put the spotlight on transport ensuring that South Africa’s roads are safe and that transport continues to support South Africa’s economy.

 

With October being Transport Month, Minister Joe Maswanganyi and his team have their hands full rolling out campaigns aimed at ensuring that South Africans appreciate the role of transport in the country’s economic growth and that the integration of the country’s public transport, as envisaged in the National Development Plan (NDP), becomes a reality.

 “The month of October is very important for us as a department to highlight the critical role that the transport sector plays in our economy and indeed our daily lives. It is also a time we use to raise awareness about road safety and how to be responsible on our roads. We highlight the role of transport in job creation and poverty alleviation,” the Minister said.

The Transport Month campaign also advances the country’s road safety initiatives including the 365-Day Road Safety initiative, in line with the United Nations Decade of Action 2011-2020 campaign aimed at reducing road deaths across the world by half at the turn of the decade.

Key transport month campaigns

One of the most significant projects the department will be focusing on in October is President Jacob Zuma’s visit to KwaZulu-Natal where he will be inspecting progress being made with the roll-out of the oceans economy.

Operation Phakisa: Oceans Economy, an initiative unveiled two years ago, will be the main driving force behind initiatives to unlock the economic potential of the country’s oceans. Experts say if South Africa fully takes advantage of the potential of its oceans, more than R30 billion can be added to the country’s economy over the next four years, leading to the creation of 70 000 jobs.

Transportation is a component of the ocean economy.

“We have projects that we are implementing along the coast in KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape and Eastern Cape because we believe in the potential of our oceans, so the President will be inspecting progress in that regard,” said Minister Maswanganyi. The President will also be opening a bridge on the N1 outside Polokwane and unveiling the statue of Oliver Tambo at OR Tambo Airport. The Department of Transport is one of the government departments that are playing a key role in the OR Tambo centenary project and the statue is one of the many initiatives that will see the transformation of the airport to reflect the values of the late struggle stalwart.

Future focus

While Minister Maswanganyi acknowledges that he inherited a department with serious and complex issues that need to be resolved, he believes the country’s transport sector is still strong enough to support an economy of South Africa’s size.

“Our main focus going forward is really on the radical economic transformation in the transport sector. How do we make sure transport contributes to better the lives of our people?” The Minister said his focus is on ensuring that transport empowers previously disadvantaged citizens both economically and socially.

“We want to bring more women and more young people into the transport sector and ensure that there are more blacks in rail and aviation and there is progress in that regard,” he said.