The push to have motorists use public transport and walk around Sandton ahead of the closure and alteration of surrounding roads is unrealistic and unsafe, a Sandton commuter has said.
October will see Sandton roads being closed or altered as part of the EcoMobility Festival, which aims to push more motorists to use public transport.
This represents a fundamental change to those who commute to Sandton by car everyday for work, and less so for those who use public transport. The road closures will last the whole month, with some of the changes made, such as certain park-and-rides, to continue after October.
For the first time in South Africa, the EcoMobility World Festival will be held in Sandton. The first such festival was held in Suwon City, South Korea in 2013.
For the month of October, key parts of Sandton will be closed to private vehicles. Those who work in Sandton will need to use alternative forms of transport, such as buses, bicycles and the Gautrain, or travel on foot.
News24 canvassed a few opinions from people who worked in Sandton or commuted there, prompting mixed reactions.
Both Precious and Saskia work in shops in Sandton City, which is in the middle of road changes.
“I think it’s a very good idea. We [are] trying to stop the harmful emissions that are hurting the earth so I’m all for it,” Precious told News24.
“People must enjoy walking. They must use their legs more and… exercise because it’s healthier and they get to enjoy the atmosphere. Walking around as opposed to driving, you get to see everything, so I’m all for it.”
This was echoed somewhat by Saskia, who also wondered how those commuting into the area might feel come October 1.
“It’s going to take… time to get used to it and people might get frustrated. Walking is not bad. I use public transport.”
Renee, who sometimes comes to Sandton for work, felt it was a good initiative, but had concerns whether the whole exercise was practical.
“I just don’t know if it’s realistic for South Africa because… in our country, things are so unsafe, and I just don’t know if it’s going to be safe enough for me to walk so I’m not trusting it 100%. I think it’s a great initiative in theory. In practice, I don’t know if it will work,” she said.
Robert, who frequents Sandton for shopping and does not work far from the area, echoed Renee’s concerns, calling the exercise irresponsible.
“It’s a bit irresponsible without having a back-up plan. I know there is always a back-up plan but I don’t believe the plan will be executed correctly.”
On Twitter, the same applied, with some praising the move while others called it madness.