Creecy Outlines Ambitious Transport Reforms at SATC

Barbara Creecy, newly appointed as South Africa’s Minister of Transport, made her inaugural address at the 42nd Southern African Transport Conference in Pretoria. She highlighted the government’s dedication to addressing the sector’s challenges under the conference theme, “Upskilling and Reskilling the Transport Industry,” which emphasizes enhancing skills to meet evolving demands.

“This sector is not operating as either an effective economic facilitator or as a proper social service,” Creecy stated. “The condition of our roads, logistical and capacity issues affecting our freight network, and road safety are just a few of the problems that have plagued the sector in recent times.”

Creecy emphasized that ineffective transport systems negatively impact economic growth and investment, making it difficult for workers to commute affordably and punctually.

“Our roads and rail networks are arteries of our nation and should move people and goods safely, speedily, and affordably across the country, facilitating our connectivity with Africa and the broader world,” Creecy added.

**National Transport Initiatives**

Creecy highlighted progress in addressing national transport challenges, including the establishment of the National Logistics Crisis Committee last year, chaired by President Cyril Ramaphosa, and the adoption of the Freight Logistics Roadmap by the cabinet.

The NLCC is implementing reforms at Transnet to restore it to pre-pandemic performance levels. Additionally, Prasa is reopening passenger rail lines affected by infrastructure damage and cable theft, with 28 of 40 priority lines now operational.

As of March this year, 256 stations are functional in cities across the country, with ongoing efforts to open more strategic commuter and rail corridors under the rail policy approved by the cabinet in 2023.

**Road Safety Priorities**

Creecy identified road safety as a key priority.

“We cannot normalize a situation in which more than 12,000 people are killed on our roads every year,” she said. “Nor can our country continue to sustain the cost of more than 10,000 fatal crashes, which the Road Traffic Management Corporation estimates cost R186 billion or 3% of the South African GDP annually. We must ensure the country’s roads are safer for those who use them.”

**Enhancing Public Transport**

Creecy also pledged to collaborate with the taxi sector, which carries an estimated 80% of South Africans using public transport.

“I pledge to ensure it takes its place in a safer, greener transport ecosystem,” she said. “We must work together to decrease levels of conflict and violence which pose a significant risk to the sector and commuters.”

Recognizing the conference’s focus on skills development, Creecy noted the significant changes in the transport industry driven by digital technology and renewable energy advancements.

“The Department of Transport Green Transport Strategy can ensure our development objectives align with our climate change mitigation laws,” she said. “Implementing this strategy will be a priority for the next term of government in an era of hyper-globalization.” Another priority is finalizing the long-outstanding strategy for devolution of urban commuter rail services.

Creecy also envisioned leveraging South Africa’s position as a gateway to Africa and its geopolitical relationships through BRICS and the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.

“New technologies and global imperatives will fundamentally alter the skills required in the transport sector,” Creecy concluded. “But equally importantly, they will open up new industries, new opportunities, and new forms of economic access, ownership, and employment.”

The SATC will continue until July 11.

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