Upgrading transport infrastructure is crucial to South Africa’s drive to create jobs for the country’s jobless millions, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday.Writing in his weekly message to the nation, Ramaphosa said improving the country’s transport infrastructure was central to South Africa’s economic growth and expansion of its industrial activities.
“Given that about four in 10 workers use public transport to reach their workplaces, these transport challenges have knock-on effects on productivity, labour relations and business functioning,” he said.
In this regard, Ramaphosa said his government would continue to invest in transport infrastructure systems that “will carry people safely and in a manner that will contribute to economic growth.”
According to him, a well-functioning transport system could alleviate road congestion, resulting in reduced travel times, improved productivity, enhanced economic activity and less energy consumption and air pollution.
The president said this as the country geared up for its inaugural National Taxi Lekgotla (Summit) later this week in an effort to address concerns plaguing the taxi industry, which is one of the most violent sectors due to its members’ constant fights and gun shootings over route rights.
“Upgraded transportation infrastructure, coupled with improved public transport, is a key driver of economic activity.
“Similarly, resolving the challenges facing a sector as important as the taxi industry is an important step towards transforming the public transport landscape,” the president said.
In his Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan unveiled in parliament two weeks ago, Ramaphosa announced that his government had embarked on projects to modernise and refurbish commuter rail networks, alongside the expansion of road rehabilitation and maintenance programmes.
He said a formalised, well-managed and better regulated minibus taxi system was in the best interest of not just those who use taxis daily, but it was also in the interest of the development and progress of the entire society.
This week’s taxi summit brings together government, civil society and industry stakeholders to chart the way forward to a more efficient sector.