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.
Under the theme “Together we move South Africa forward”, the Department of Transport will launch its annual October Transport Month (OTM) campaign on 1 October.OTM focuses on infrastructure projects that have major socio-economic spin-offs, for all modes of transport such as road, aviation, maritime, rail and public transport.
This year, emphasis will be placed on four pillars:
- Jobs created through infrastructure and other service delivery programmes;
- Major infrastructure developments and improvements and links to local economic developments;
- Special programmes aimed at youth and women; and,
- Rallying all sectors of society to improve road safety with an opportunity to market programmes to be implemented by the Road Safety Advisory Council.
Ongoing transport projects
Key projects will include the official opening of road infrastructure projects, such as the R71 Moria Project (interchange safety improvement), Umgeni Interchange and Denneysville Sasolburg Road in Free State.Minister Jeff Radebe, the minister in the Presidency responsible for planning, monitoring and evaluation, said OTM was also an opportunity to increase road safety awareness. In addition, traffic officers will rotate work shifts for a 24-hour day to help decrease the number of road accidents.”(The) government has also developed a qualification for traffic officers from National Qualifications Framework (NQF) 4 to NQF 6 in order to further professionalise the traffic fraternity,” he said.
Gauteng’s business hub, Sandton, will take part in the Ecomobility World Festival during OTM. The aim is for a car-free CBD for the duration of the festival.”We want to close off certain streets in Sandton, our second largest CBD, to car traffic and instead use these lanes for public transport, walking, cycling and other forms of ecomobility during the entire Transport Month,” said Johannesburg Executive Mayor Parks Tau.”We want to show residents and visitors that an ecomobile future is possible and that public transport, walking and cycling can be accessible, safe, attractive and cool!”The city is providing alternative modes of transport to Sandton.