Johannesburg — Transport Minister Dipuo Peters has encouraged South Africans to use public transport rather than their own private cars during the EcoMobility World Festival 2015 underway in Sandton.
The festival, which will take place throughout October, is aimed at encouraging residents to park their cars and make use of public transport, walk or cycle in Sandton city to mitigate traffic congestion that affect business and economy, and also address environmental costs caused by carbon.
The event coincides with the National Transport Month.
“Walking is cool. Cycling is cool. Let us make it possible to stay healthy. If you walk or cycle you can reduce your weight, and reduce the chances of getting diseases,” said the Minister on Sunday when she officially opened the EcoMobility World Festival.
She said South Africa has a national climate change response strategy.
“We are committed to sustainable development. We are committed to ensure that we build cities of tomorrow, by making sure that we can move with the new technology. We also want to make sure that this technology will create jobs for our people,” said Minister Peters.
She called on the provincial government and City of Joburg to ensure that the companies that manufacture the bicycles residents will be using to get around to employ Gauteng residents. This was an opportunity to create jobs and reduce inequality.
Gauteng Premier David Makhura envisaged that the festival will be successful and said he would love to see it being developed into a lifestyle after October ends.
“We used to protect those who walk and run on the streets of our cities and towns, we need to change the way we build our cities and towns to promote and make it fashionable for people to walk.
“I personally used to walk from Alexandra to Sandton in the early 1980s,” he said.
He echoed the Minister’s call for people to use public transport. “It is cool to use public transport. Public transport promotes social cohesion and it protects our environment,” he said.
Johannesburg City Mayor Parks Tau said the EcoMobility World Festival is an introduction to the future. “We see the Ecomobility World Festival as a precursor to the future of Sandton and Johannesburg,” he said.
He said congestion in Sandton city contributed to the economic inefficiency that the city needed to overcome.
“We need to enable the economy to flourish by having less people who spend a lot of time in their cars instead of being productive, and have less people stuck in their cars because of congestion.
“For those of us who got stuck in our cars, you are not stuck in traffic, you are traffic,” said Mayor Tau.
He said the festival is also part of the collective responsibility of South Africans to mitigate the impact of greenhouse emissions on climate change.
Mayor Tau said the best way to do this was to invest in public transport, cycling lanes and pedestrian facilities and reducing levels of congestions in the streets.
Korean Mayor for the City of Suwon, Yeom Tae-Young, was amongst the international guests who attended the official opening.
His city was the first to host the festival in 2014, and said eco mobility is good in that it promotes social change and integration in communities.