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South Africa: Waste Water Treatment Plants Show Improvement

Pretoria — The Department of Water and Sanitation has commended the improvement of over 198 waste water plants in municipalities during the 2014 Green Drop assessment period.

The 2014 Green Drop Progress report is based on a self-assessment by municipalities and is confirmed by the department to ensure credibility. The department’s team that served as moderators is made up of a trained group that not only assesses performance but also ensures that regulatory advice is given to municipal wastewater management for further improvement on their systems.

The department said the main objective of the exercise is to develop measures that will gradually improve the level of wastewater management in South Africa.

The department assessed and verified 824 waste water treatment plants and 152 municipalities throughout the country. The report presents the current risk profile and a six-year trend analysis of wastewater treatment plants.

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Water Services Manager in the department, Noxolo Ncapayi, said there are various factors that contribute to the mismanagement of waste water treatment plants. Industries that dump their effluent on river catchments and farmers and abattoirs disposing of their pesticides and carcasses within the catchments contribute enormously to the pollution problem.

“Hartbeestpoort Dam in Brits, North West, is a classic example of a downstream water resource that is subjected to heavy pollution by industries. The dam receives water from Crocodile River, whose main tributary is Jukskei River. Jukskei, which runs through Johannesburg and Alexandra township, is one of the worst polluted rivers in the country,” said Ncapayi.

However, the assessment shows that although some plans are still not satisfactory, the overall improvement is encouraging.

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Source: allafrica


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Cleaning up Alexandra – a major challenge for all

JOHANNESBURG – Another clean-up in Alexandra has left some residents skeptical of the Gauteng government’s efforts to keep their township clean.

On Sunday morning, the Gauteng province relaunched the Bontle ke Bothocampaign, aimed at mobilising the community into successful waste management structures.

“This is not the first clean-up in Alex there’ve been a lot of clean-ups but I think what’s important is that they’ve not been sustainable,” said Lebogang Maile, Gauteng member of the executive committee (MEC) for economic development, environment, agriculture and rural development.

The government wants residents to take responsibility for waste removal.

“It doesn’t help to wait for government and leadership to after a certain period of time to come and clean we need to get to a point where people here will take up this responsibility,” said Maile.

One local resident Walter Molewa said that the rubbish in Stjwetla, an area situated on the banks of the Jukskei river, has been piling up for years.

“Where is Pikitup? They hire people to clean everyday but where do they clean? This rubbish has been here for five years,” said Molewa.

Another resident, Victor Mahlaule, said “We have no life here, there’s no cleanliness.”

Gauteng generates 45 percent of the country’s waste.

With rapid urbanisation, the pressure on waste management infrastructure is overwhelming.

“In the past five years, a million people moved to Gauteng. There’s almost 20,000 people who move into the different parts of our province every month and so it puts lots of pressure on education, healthcare and the demand for housing,” said Gauteng Premier David Makhura.

Levels of waste are high in Stjwetla, with rubbish buried into the river embankment and a large mountain of waste next to communal taps.

“It is hazardous, this is a disaster, this is undesirable, and this is inhuman. We shouldn’t be having a situation like this but it’s unfortunate, it’s a sad reality and we have to do something as government,” said Maile.

Plans include building more parks and vegetable gardens to ensure that the public space is occupied and to deter illegal dumping.

According to authorities, 60% of Gauteng’s waste is recyclable. This, according to Premier Makhura, presents major employment opportunities.

“Recycling can be a source of income for many in our communities so we want to work with them to ensure that we keep our province clean,” said Makhura.

However, after many years and different premiers Molewa said he was tired of false promises.

“Nomvula Mokonyane, Mbazhima Shilowa and Mathole Motshegka didn’t sort this place out. They’re playing games these guys,” he said.

Resident Emmanuel Malatji said, “This kind of problem is going on and on because we don’t have a dustbin, plastic bags and there’s no skip where we can recycle.”

“It’s not that we’re happy to live in a place like this –  in this condition. All we need to have a skip where we can through rubbish so they can come and collect it easily,” he said.

The province has already invested R16-million in the programme and are calling on the private sector for more funds.

“We need a lot more money,” said Maile.

Source: enca


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Festive rush buoys tourism industry

Johannesburg – The struggling tourism industry has recorded its highest performance growth in four years as a result of an increase in the number of domestic tourists who visited the country’s key attractions during the festive season.

The Tourism Business Council of SA (TBCSA) said yesterday that its figures for 2015 showed the industry grew more than 20 points in the fourth quarter compared with a similar period in 2014.

The council said the industry achieved a better-than-expected score of 106.5 points in the fourth quarter compared with an anticipated but more subdued score of 94.2 during the same period in 2014. But it warned that the outlook for the first quarter of 2016 would be slightly below the acceptable 100 level, falling to 94.2 points.

TBCSA chief executive Mmatsatsi Ramawela said domestic tourism had outperformed overseas visitors despite a weak exchange rate that could have served as a stimulus for inbound tourists.

Ramawela said the last months of the year had proved to be the money spinner for the industry. “The festive season is typically one of our busiest times, presenting the trade with the opportunity to do some good business when many people, particularly locals, take some time off to travel,” Ramawela said.

Regulations

“After a tough three quarters of trade, we’ve been anxiously looking towards the festive period for some welcomed reprieve in the market.”

The tourism industry took a huge knock last year following the introduction of controversial visa regulations in June, which required among other things that foreigners who wanted to visit South Africa apply for visas in person at South African embassies abroad. The regulations also demanded that parents travelling in or out of South Africa with minors be in possession of an unabridged birth certificate.

A leading hotelier in Cape Town said yesterday that while it expected an increase in the number of foreign visitors at this time of the year, the bookings were low as potential tourists remained confused about the rules.

“We have not seen a high volume of bookings from our potential clients overseas,” said the hotelier, who refused to be named.

Source: iol


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SAA resumes US flight operations as storm settles

JOHANNESBURG — South African Airways has resumed flights to Washington DC and New York in the United States.

Flights were cancelled on Friday due to Winter Storm Jonas lashing the US east coast.

Clean-up operations are currently under way after the devastating blizzard.

At least 11 states have declared emergencies, affecting millions of people.

Authorities say the snowstorm is one of the worst to hit New York in the city’s history.

Up to 68 centimetres of snow has been recorded in parts of the Big Apple, stalling public transport systems, closing restaurants and forcing the cancellation of Broadway shows.

By Sunday morning, millions of residents and business owners were digging themselves out of the snow, trying to clear pavements, doorways and cars.

Source: enca


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Volunteers send water as South African temperatures soar

In a large shed to the east of Johannesburg men stacked tens of thousands of litres of water onto a flatbed truck as part of a neighbourhood volunteer campaign to save South Africa’s dry towns.

The water comes in two-litre soft drink bottles, five-litre plastic drums and a 1,000-litre bowser — all of it donated by city residents, as intense drought and continuous heat waves devastate South Africa’s farms.

For Janine Boshoff, 35, the spur to action was a Facebook post by a cattle farmer who was distraught at the choice of either watching his starving herd die — or shooting them.

“I thought if a farmer could feel that much for an animal, I would hope that humans could feel something for each other, too,” she told AFP.

She began rallying neighbours in suburban Boksburg to fill their old bottles and bring them to her house.

Within days, her sister’s employer had offered a company truck to transport the haul a few hours’ drive to parched towns in the Free State, South Africa’s agricultural heartland.

Boshoff’s neighbour, Jolanda du Plessis, 46, and her housekeeper began walking the local streets handing out flyers.

At night, the two families shut down the electric fence between their homes and passed the day’s collection over the wall to store at Boshoff’s house –- in the hallway, on the patio, and in every available room.

For 14 years, the families had been neighbours without so much as a friendly wave between them.

Now they plotted the water delivery rescue mission together in Du Plessis’ lounge, their phones ringing and pinging as messages of more donations flooded in.

– Record highs –
The regional drought, now in its second year, has been brought on by the El Nino weather phenomenon and exacerbated by climate change, pushing temperatures higher in a string of blistering heat waves.

This week, the Washington-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is expected to declare 2015 the hottest year on record worldwide.

On one Tuesday last October, 18 weather stations across South Africa recorded new monthly highs, all above 38 degrees Celsius (100.4 Fahrenheit).

And in early January, both Johannesburg and the capital Pretoria saw all-time record maximums of 38 and 42.5 degrees Celsius respectively.

Such figures highlight the huge challenge of capping global warming at below two degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels — the goal set at UN negotiations in Paris in December.

“The abnormally high temperatures and low rainfall during 2015 are a combination of a natural effect, which is the El Nino phenomenon, and the rising baseline caused by human-caused global climate change,” explained Robert Scholes, systems ecology professor at the University of the Witwatersrand.

“At this stage, they approximately equally contribute to the observed high temperatures.”

But while emergency community efforts can provide drinking and washing water to otherwise crippled small towns, they cannot replace the absent rains as fields turn to dust.

Nor are they a long-term solution to the country’s hot, dry future.

– Long-term planning –
The South African Weather Service announced last week that last year was the driest year since records began in 1904.

“South Africa is a water scarce country, it always has been,” said Dhesigen Naidoo, CEO of the Water Research Commission,

“We’re quite astute at dealing with water scarcity and have managed for a long while to be able to reconcile our demands with our supply.

“But what’s clear going into the future is that we’re going to need a lot more water available to the system.”

What’s required, he said, is radical diversification of sources, including new dams and desalination plants, some of which are already under way –- but also better and more efficient use of the water.

“Twenty-five percent of water, clean drinking-quality water, is lost in our system every single day. If we are able to claim this back, that’s more water available in the towns and cities immediately.”

When the truck left for the farmlands on Saturday morning — full to the brim with bottles — the donations were still coming in.

It will help in the short term but last year’s high temperatures, both locally and globally, point to more tough times ahead.

“We have made exactly the right kinds of starts that we need to secure our water future,” said Naidoo, referring to infrastructure investment.

“The key question is, when this drought ends, will we sustain this?”

Source: ngrguardiannews


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SA introduces green office buildings

South Africa’s first commercial green star-rated building has been unveiled. The cutting-edge building – the E block in Upper Grayston, a small multi-purpose development in Johannesburg’s Sandton business district – is the first small office building to receive five green stars from the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA). “We want to get the message out to other developers,” says Martin Evans of Upper Grayston’s developer Bryprop, “that South Africa can produce green buildings economically.” Green buildings are attractive to the property market, he says, and they offer a good return on investment. “Green buildings command a higher rental price and capital value, they have lower running costs, they let better, and they retain tenants better,” says the GBCSA’s executive chairman Bruce Kerswill. This green mindset is catching on in South Africa, he says. Five stars are not enough for Bryprop, though, and the firm is aiming for the coveted six-star rating with its newest building, Upper Grayston F, which is under construction right next to the E Block. This will make it the only six star-rated commercial building in the country. Rental space should be available around the end of June 2013, according to Bryprop.

Green buildings mitigate climate change

South Africa is following a new trend noted in a report titled “Rethinking Consumption: Consumers and the Future of Sustainability”, which has found that people in developing nations have a keener sense of responsibility towards the earth than those in developed nations. “Two-thirds of consumers globally say they ‘feel a sense of responsibility to society’ (65%), including 81% in emerging markets and 50% in developed markets,” notes the report. “Buildings can be a big part of the solution to mitigating the effects of climate change,” says Kerswill. “Good planning can reduce their use of power and water by up to 70%, and together with waste reduction this can have a significant impact.” Office buildings especially contribute heavily to global warming and pollution, and consume large amounts of energy and water. “But buildings are the cheapest way to make savings on carbon emissions,” says Warren Gray of Solid Green Consulting. “Overseas they use around 30% of the world’s energy. In South Africa the situation is a little different because our economy has been geared towards mining and we are still constructing the buildings that other countries already have.” Savings realised in a green building will come mainly from running costs and electricity. Although the largest part of a company’s expenses goes towards salaries, says Gray, people who work in green buildings perform better, they get discharged from hospital sooner, and they give the employer more value for the salary. “A 10% increase in productivity outperforms a 5% saving on electricity.”

Bringing in the tenants

Bryprop says that its tenants are becoming more and more interested in green features. In the new building, lessons learned from Upper Grayston E will be applied, with some extra features that the developers are confident will earn the six green stars. All timber used in the project comes from a sustainable forest and is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. Most of the building’s water will be reclaimed from rain and filtered and purified, and municipal water will only be used when the tanks are empty. Solar panels for both power and heating will ensure that no energy is used to heat water, and in terms of space heating, says Gray, good architectural principles and passive design means that a minimal amount of heating is needed. The building also has big glass windows which let in natural light and air, reducing the need for artificial lighting and climate control. A mixed-mode ventilation system will allow the building to use mechanical ventilation when necessary. People in the building will be able to monitor energy consumption in real time, via a screen in the entrance and a page on the web, which will supply a graph of energy consumption measured at one-minute intervals. The graph for Block E is already available online. The amount of concrete used in construction has been reduced through the addition of fly ash into the mixture. Fly ash is a residue generated during combustion, for example at coal-burning power stations. “This means that the building itself is constructed from recycled material,” Gray says. Carpets and paint used in the interior contain low levels of volatile organic compounds. Cycle parking and special cycle routes around the office park are aimed at encouraging this eco-friendly alternative means of transport.

Going green and saving the planet

Green buildings, according to GBCSA, are energy- and resource-efficient and kind to the environment because of the practices used in their design, construction and operation. They have also been proven to be healthier for residents and workers, leading to higher productivity. For green buildings, these practices will usually include the optimal circulation of fresh air and use of natural light, resulting in a lower use of air conditioning and heating. Lighting will be energy-efficient and controlled through motion detectors, and there will be greater use of renewable energy sources. The builders will make use of recycled or sustainable materials, and there will be other sources of water, such as rainwater harvesting, besides the municipal supply. Locally sourced products are essential to shrink the construction footprint, and if any existing structure is demolished to make way for the new building, as much material as possible, such as windows, doors or floors, must be re-used. When a company applies for green star certification for a building, there is a rigorous process that must be followed. Once the building has been registered – which is only the first step towards certification – the project team will prepare the necessary documentation to prove that the building complies with GBCSA standards. Assessors will not award points, says the GBCSA, unless they can see that all the requirements have been met exactly as detailed in the technical manual. By this stage the full assessment fee must have been paid. Once the fee and the documentation have been received, a panel will evaluate the submission and make their recommendations to the GBCSA, who will then contact the project team. At this point the team gets another chance to earn their green stars by including extra supporting documentation or making alterations to their designs if necessary, and resubmitting their application. The panel will again scrutinise the application and make their final pronouncement and the project team will be notified of their score. A score of 45 to 59 earns the building four green stars and is an indication of best practice locally; a score of 60 to 75 earns five green stars and signifies South African excellence; and a score of 75 to 100 earns six green stars and is indicative of world leadership. Upper Grayston E scored 67 points, which is currently the highest five-star score in the country.

Source: southafrica


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China commits scholarships, training to boost Africa ties

Chinese president, Xi Jinping, has announced that China will provide 30,000 government scholarships for African students as well as 2,000 educational opportunities with degrees and diplomas, as part of the country’s aim to strengthen cooperation with Africa.

Speaking at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation summit Xi said China will also offer 40,000 training opportunities to African students in order to further boost education and training relations.

China will set up a number of regional vocational education centres across the continent, as well as several schools for “capacity building”, which will help to accommodate the training of 200,000 technicians.

“We will also support African countries in building and upgrading five transportation universities,” he said in his address to the delegates.

China also committed to sponsoring visits from 200 African scholars as well as study trips by 500 young Africans to China. In addition, the country will train 1,000 media professionals from Africa annually.

Between 2000 and 2011, 79,000 African students studied in China, according to a paper published by NORRAG, a Switzerland-based independent network for international policies and cooperation in education and training.

It added that the cooperation between the two regions is “becoming a new form of China’s higher education internationalisation”.

“The current new cooperation modality between China and Africa has provided the opportunity for Chinese higher education institutions to export Chinese knowledge to the world,” it said.

In his address, Xi also committed $60bn in funding over the next three years to plans in 10 major areas including industrialisation, agricultural modernisation, financial services, infrastructure, green development, poverty reduction and public welfare.

The funding tranche will include $35bn of preferential loans and export credit, as well as a China-Africa production capacity cooperation fund which will see an initial capital of $10bn. Five billion will come via interest free loans and aid, Xi said.

The plans in these ten areas will be implemented in order to address “three bottleneck issues holding back Africa’s development”: inadequate infrastructure, lack of professional and skilled personnel, and funding shortage.

He said the country aims to help in “accelerating African industrialisation, and agricultural modernisation and achieving sustainable self-development.”

The summit took place last month in Johannesburg, and was attended by representatives of 50 African countries. Focusing on “win-win cooperation for common development”, this was the second conference held by the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.

Source: thepienews


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Joburg’s mass recycling project crucial as landfills run out of time

JOHANNESBURG’s residents and businesses can no longer continue putting all their rubbish in one bin and expect Pikitup to collect it, take it to a landfill and dump it.

At present, the city generates 1.8-million tonnes of rubbish a year, which is sent to four landfill sites: Marie Louise, Ennerdale, Robinson Deep and Goudkoppies. But at current trends and with 90% of mixed waste going to landfill sites, the city will run out of space in seven years.

Pikitup MD Amanda Nair says it would cost more than R1bn to build a new landfill site, taking into account engineering, lining, drainage and road networks.

It costs the city R600m a year to clean the streets and deal with illegal dumping.

Pikitup, which last week was hit by a violent strike, serves an area of 1,625km² and is responsible for cleaning and sweeping 9,000km of streets in the City of Johannesburg’s seven regions.

An independent refuse removal company has been hired to move the 30,000 tonnes of rubbish that has piled up on the city’s streets because of the industrial action, while management and South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) leaders have agreed to meet on Monday.

Pikitup spokesman Jacky Mashapu said the strike cost R1.25m a day.

In some countries, there is zero waste to landfill because residents separate their rubbish into different streams for recycling or incineration. Even though there is some recycling in SA by informal reclaimers, the country is a long way from the levels of resource reuse in China, says Ms Nair.

For the past few years, Johannesburg has run a separation-at-source pilot project in a few suburbs. From next year, this has to be rolled out across the city, involving co-operation from all stakeholders including Pikitup employees, residents and the informal sector, Ms Nair says.

Waste is a resource around which small businesses can be built and jobs created.

About 18 months ago, Pikitup approved a waste-minimisation plan. It is drafting a resource, recovery and logistics plan, which includes looking at how Pikitup’s infrastructure needs to be adjusted for a different way of handling waste in future. For example, the old garden refuse sites are being adapted to become service centres taking streams of recyclables.

Other collection vehicles and incinerators will be needed.

“Our primary goal is not raising revenue but reducing the amount of waste to landfill,” Ms Nair says. “Our plans will allow other partners to extract economic value from waste.”

But the streets around Pikitup’s Braamfontein head office last week showed signs of a hasty clean-up by Pikitup executives and Johannesburg mayor Parks Tau. Within two hours, their efforts were obliterated as aggrieved Samwu members re-energised their protest by overturning more dustbins.

Ms Nair, who helped sweep the streets, says strikers had not tabled any formal demands.

An interdict was obtained to halt the strike and an ultimatum issued to workers to return to work or risk dismissal.

Efforts to get comment from the union at the weekend failed.

Last year, Ms Nair was suspended over allegations of impropriety in the award of a tender. In February, she was cleared of charges and reinstated as MD.

The utility has announced a R600m turnaround, from a deficit of R432m in 2013 to a surplus of R181m this year. The improved performance stems from a five-year plan to focus on better revenue collection, reduced overtime and improved fleet performance.

Chief financial officer Suren Maharaj says 90% of Pikitup’s revenue was earned from domestic clients and 10% from commercial clients. There is limited room to improve domestic revenue, collected on Pikitup’s behalf by the City of Johannesburg. But by ensuring better service to commercial customers, Pikitup has reduced bad debts and improved collections.

Source: bdlive


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AFRICITIES: Local governments in Africa going green, and putting their money where their mouths are

AFRICAN cities have begun taking the lead with investments in and the implementation of interventions that are designed to conserve natural resources and energy for generations to come.

This is as many countries around the world look to innovative ways to conserve and efficiently manage critical resources – particularly the supply of safe and clean water and energy.

Johannesburg in South Africa, for example, has set aside R234 million (approximately $20 million) from its operating budget to be spent on environment and infrastructure services during the current financial year.

Areas that the city is investing in include; biodiversity conservation, integrated waste management and ecological infrastructure. The rehabilitation of a mine dump, air quality improvement, as well as climate change and energy diversification, are just some of a number of green initiatives that the metropolitan is focused on.

Johannesburg executive mayor, Parks Tau, referred to these interventions as being “just a few that demonstrate how local governments need to be pioneers in this space in order to advance the development of the African continent”.

“The demand for efficient, reliable and affordable renewable and environmentally friendly energy is a basic need for all African households and industries. Local governments need to harness all available energy resources and come up with fresh approaches and initiatives to fund new projects, and encourage investments in this space through green incentives,” Tau said.

He further said: “Cities are the building blocks in optimising resources for the development of Africa in the lead up to 2063, and it is safe to say that African cities are awake to this reality. In-line with the vision of Agenda 2063, the continent needs to intensify its mobilisation of  resources to finance its development and environmental sustainability.”

Last year, the City of Johannesburg became the first municipality in South Africa to list a “Green Bond” at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE). The money raised through the R1.46 billion bond, that will mature in 2024, is set to finance green initiatives such as the Bio Gas-Energy Project, and other initiatives aimed at reducing green-house gas emissions.

This innovative approach to mobilising funds for sustainable development projects will also ensure that essential environmental infrastructure and services are financed without a significant impact on the city’s purse.

Another African city which is implementing several sustainability focused projects and on the lead to promote efficient community-based waste management is Lagos in Nigeria.

The capital city’s rapid urbanisation and population growth has put a lot of pressure on its water, waste management and sanitation infrastructure. These have seen the birth of the Lagos State Water Supply Master Plan 2010 – 2020, which promotes, among others, access to potable water, reduction of waste and unaccounted water.

The plan is also designed to increase the amount of billed water, revenue collection efficiency and enhance reinvestment.

Lagos’ Sustainable Sewage and Sanitation Strategy furthermore includes the development of 10 new wastewater treatment plants. This is also as the city has a landfill gas project underway, which comprises a municipal solid waste composting facility earmarked to lead to a significant reduction of emissions.

Another African city with an exemplary environmental management, monitoring and participation strategy is Accra – the capital City of Ghana. According to the Siemens Green City Report, Accra is also strong in air quality and sanitation areas, and ranks above average for its high rate of renewable electricity and low electricity consumption.

The upcoming 7th Africities Summit, which is organised by the United Cities and Local Governments of Africa, is expected to touch on efficient resource management and renewable energy initiatives across the continent. It will be held in Johannesburg, South Africa from 29 November to 3 December.

Source: mgafrica


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Gridlock is grinding Sandton to a halt

The average person living in a big city can spend up to four months of his/her life sitting, waiting and wishing in traffic. This is becoming ever truer in downtown Johannesburg and its surrounding metropolitan business hubs, particularly Sandton. The influx of people to the big city over the past few years has seen the dark, looming shadow of traffic grow exponentially until, at times, becoming nearly unmanageable, especially when load shedding knocks out power to Sandton’s robots and traffic systems, bringing traffic to a literal standstill.

Growing traffic congestion has serious economic consequences for fast-growing cities, but the most concerning effects of gridlock is on the individual. Imagine you could get back all the time you spent sitting in traffic – an extra hour in the evening with your son or daughter or half an hour more in bed every morning. The pressing question is ‘how many moments are you missing while you’re stuck behind the wheel of a car?’.

According to the latest traffic index report, released annually by TomTom, a global leader in satellite navigation technology, more than 40% of South African employees are late for work due to traffic congestion. Johannesburg is currently ranked the 77th most congested city in the world, and climbing steadily.

“There are many factors that contribute to traffic congestion in South Africa, poor public transport is one of them,” said Etienne Louw, General Manager of TomTom Africa.

This was solemnly acknowledged by Johannesburg mayor Parks Tau at the Ecomobility Festival in October this year. For the month of October, roads in the commercial hub of Sandton were closed off to private vehicles, for the purpose of promoting the use of public transport and getting the public to experience a version of Sandton without all of the congestion, noise and smog.

The soaring number of cars moving in and out of Sandton every day contributes enormously to the city’s CO2 emissions, and the gridlock experienced during rush hour is costing the country a huge amount of money each year, as noted by Tau during the festival: “As it stands, the economic impact that results from congestion in the whole of South Africa is over one billion rand (each year), and Johannesburg accounts for the highest loss, with more than 1.5 million vehicles registered across the metropolitan.”

Those numbers aren’t looking to drop any time soon; commuters in Sandton are rising by 3.4% annually. Currently, the picture of traffic in the precinct is a very gloomy one. On a daily basis, between 7:30am and 8:30am, almost 150 000 people move in and out of Sandton. The scary part is that 70% of the vehicles coming in and out are private.

Gridlock is a global problem affecting every major metropole in the world. The obvious long-term solution is the development of a fully integrated public transport system, but as this will take time, the motor industry is looking to technological development to help alleviate the rising surge of global traffic.

This topic was covered extensively at the TED conference in March 2011, by Bill Ford, in his talk: “A Future Beyond Global Traffic Gridlock“. In his talk, Ford reveals some shocking figures about the rate at which the numbers of cars are increasing in cities around the world, and the cost of gridlock to the economy and the individual: “Today, there are about 800 million cars on the road worldwide. But with more people and greater prosperity around the world, that number is going to grow to between two and four billion cars by mid-century. And this is going to create the kind of global gridlock that the world has never seen before.”

When considering how to navigate around the problem facing us, Ford notes more of the same will not do, and we are going to have to – very quickly – begin developing technology to help us manage traffic flow in big cities.

“We are going to build smart cars, but we also need to build smart roads, smart parking, smart public transportation systems and more. We don’t want to waste our time sitting in traffic, sitting at tollbooths or looking for parking spots. We need an integrated system that uses real-time data to optimise personal mobility on a massive scale, without hassle or compromises for travellers.”

For South Africans, particularly those living in the buzzing metropolis’ of Johannesburg and Cape Town, a smart move toward alleviating traffic congestion – minimising time wasted behind the wheel – is to make use of dedicated sat-nav technology like TomTom. The TomTom GO5000 and GO5100 have independent, unlimited access to TomTom maps, which has more map data for southern Africa than any other mapping resource in the world. A device like this receives over 700 000 data points each second, allowing deadly accuracy, up to 2cm, updating traffic information in real-time. This appears to be the most intelligent short-term solution to minimising your commute time, dodging speed cameras, and getting where you need to be, faster. The only difference between the two is the GO5100 comes with World Maps as well.

With traffic congestion reaching all-time highs, TomTom aims to provide the general public, industry and policymakers with unique and unbiased information about congestion levels in urban areas, making your trip a little more bearable.

Source: itweb


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