African cities will experience constant traffic gridlock by 2025 unless public transport is transformed

AFRICAN cities would become a constant gridlock within the next ten years unless there were urgent interventions, the opening session of the African Union of Public Transport (UATP) taking place in Cape Town heard on Tuesday.

“Africa is experiencing the most rapid urbanisation in the world, with surveys indicating that up to 60% of our residents will be living in cities by 2050,” said City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee Member: Transport for Cape Town, Councillor Brett Herron.

Over 200 delegates from Africa, Switzerland, France and Singapore are attending the conference which is being hosted by Transport for Cape Town, the city’s transport authority.

Herron said the message that came out at the opening of the three-day Best Practice in Public Transport Africa for Africa workshop was that the continent’s cities would be in “constant gridlock within a decade”.

It was further predicted that due to the increased rate of urbanisation and “at least 6,2 billion private motorised trips annually in major cities across the world,” cities would experience an increase in pollution and traffic congestion.

This, the speakers said, could be mitigated with an increase in reliable public transport.

Herron said the emphasis should be placed on “doubling the market share of public transport in each country by 2025”.

Jack van der Merwe, UATP President, said during the opening session that public transport was a “social service and an essential service”.

“Public transport is not something that should make money. In fact, the most efficient public transport in the world is subsidised.”

Van der Merwe added: “Public transport is for everyone and it must become the public mode of choice by being efficient and integrated.”

Creating solutions to increased congestion challenges included ensuring that new office blocks were built near attractive public transport hubs, that the timetables of buses and trains should be coordinated, while there `should be integrated tariffs and ticketing across the modes,” he said.

Herron said that during the conference, Transport Cape Town would showcase “a number of the projects that we have pioneered”.

The workshop was designed to enable delegates to learn from each other and to engage in “case-study sessions, study tours, workshops and round-table discussions which will culminate in a best practice blueprint for Africa based on the lessons learned during these sessions”.

Time is of the essence, he said. “Our residents have high expectations from us – they want affordable and seamless access to opportunities – and we all have to move ahead with a greater sense of urgency in our endeavour to build liveable cities,” Herron said. – ANA