The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa of 1996 identifies the legislative responsibilities of different spheres of government with regards to all modes of transport and its associated infrastructure.
The Department of Transport (DoT) is responsible for the legislation and policies for rail, pipelines, roads, airports, ports and the intermodal operations of public transport and freight. The department conducts sector research, formulates legislation and policy to set the strategic direction of subsectors, assigns responsibilities to public entities, regulates through setting norms and standards, and monitors implementation.
The work of the DoT contributes to the realisation of the vision of improved social and economic development articulated in the National Development Plan, and priority (economic transformation and job creation) and priority 4 (spatial integration, human settlements and local government) of government’s 2019‐2024 Medium Term Strategic Framework.
Over the medium term, the department plans to give effect to these guiding policies by focusing on: building and maintaining national and provincial road networks, providing passenger rail infrastructure and services, and facilitating the provision of integrated public transport networks.
The South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL) plays a crucial role in the upgrading, maintenance and strengthening programmes of the toll and non-toll portfolios of national roads. About 49 000 kilometres of South Africa’s tar road network are under the jurisdiction of provincial departments of transport.
Over the MTEF period, the department plans to transfer funds to provinces to maintain the provincial road network by resealing 16 227 lane kilometres, rehabilitating 6 199 lane kilometres, and blacktop patching 3.7 million square kilometres. Factors such as the condition of roads, weather patterns and traffic volumes determine allocations for the maintenance of provincial roads.
The department is expected to modernise South Africa’s passenger rail services through the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA). The modernisation of the agency’s services is intended to improve the reliability of services and increase passenger ridership through focused expenditure on repairs and maintenance as part of the agency’s rolling stock fleet renewal programme, as well as improved security.
As hubs of economic activity and growth, South Africa’s urban areas must maintain optimal functionality. It is important that integrated, sustainable, affordable and functional transport solutions within these hubs are tailored to suit the needs of present and future urban commuters.
The 12 public entities under the Ministry of Transport are the Airports Company South Africa (ACSA); PRASA; SANRAL; Ports Regulator of South Africa; Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS); Cross-Border Road Transport Agency (CBRTA); Railway Safety Regulator; Road Accident Fund (RAF); Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA); Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC); South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) and South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).
The ACSA was formed to own and operate the nine principal South African airports, including the three main international gateways: OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, Cape Town International Airport and King Shaka International Airport in Durban.
PRASA provides rail commuter services within, to and from South Africa in the public interest. In consultation with the DoT, the agency also provides for long-haul passenger rail and bus services within, to and from South Africa.
SANRAL is responsible for the design, financing, maintenance, operation and rehabilitation of South Africa’s national toll and non-toll roads.
The Ports Regulator of South Africa performs functions that relate mainly to the regulation of pricing and other aspects of economic regulation, the promotion of equity of access to ports facilities and services, the monitoring of the industry’s compliance with the regulatory framework, and the hearing of any complaints and appeals lodged with it.
The ATNS provides air traffic, navigation, training and associated services within South Africa and a large part of the Southern Indian and Atlantic Ocean, comprising approximately 10% of the world’s airspace. South Africa is committed to regional aviation safety, security and environmental issues.
The CBRTA’s legislative mandate requires it to advise the Minister of Transport on cross border road transport policy, regulate access to the market by the road transport freight and passenger industry in respect of cross border road transport by issuing permits, undertake road transport law enforcement, and play a facilitative role in contributing to economic prosperity of the region.
The Railway Safety Regulator oversees and promotes safe railway operations through appropriate support, monitoring and enforcement, guided by an enabling regulatory framework, including regulations for all rail operators in South Africa and those of neighbouring countries whose rail operations enter South Africa.
The mandate of the RAF is to compensate South African road users for loss or damage caused by the negligent driving of motor vehicles within the borders of South Africa.
The RTIA promotes road traffic quality by providing for a scheme to discourage road traffic infringements to support the prosecution of offences in terms of national and provincial laws relating to road traffic, and implements a points demerit system.
The RTMC is responsible for coordinating road-traffic management across the three spheres of government. The core mandate of the corporation is to improve traffic-law compliance and reduce road fatalities.
The SACAA promotes, regulates and enforces civil aviation safety and security standards across the aviation industry.
The SAMSA promotes South Africa’s maritime interests, ensures the safety of life and property at sea, and prevents and combats the pollution of the marine environment by ships.
Transnet’s mandate is to contribute to lowering the cost of doing business in South Africa, enable economic growth, and ensure security of supply by providing appropriate port, rail and pipeline infrastructure in a cost-effective and efficient manner. Transnet remains the largest freight logistics company in South Africa, enabling competitiveness, growth and the development of the South African economy by delivering reliable freight transport and handling services that satisfy customer demand.
SAA is the leading carrier in Africa, serving different destinations across the continent and major destinations within South Africa and internationally from its Johannesburg hub at OR Tambo International Airport. SAA’s core business is the provision of passenger airline and cargo transport services together with related services, which are provided through SAA and its four wholly owned subsidiaries: SAA Technical; Mango, its low-cost carrier; Air Chefs, the catering entity of SAA; and South African Travel Centre.
SAX is a regional carrier with a mandate to provide transportation services for passengers, cargo and mail, air charters, and other related aviation services on low density domestic routes and African regional routes. It operates from OR Tambo International Airport (Johannesburg), King Shaka International Airport (Durban) and Cape Town International Airport, serving secondary routes in South Africa and regional routes to Botswana,
Namibia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zimbabwe and Zambia. It also provides feeder air services that connect with the South African Airways network.
The NATMAP 2050 is aimed at delivering a dynamic, long-term and sustainable transportation system framework which is demand responsive and that provides a coordinated transport agenda for the whole country. The NATMAP recognises that efficient, affordable and reliable transport systems are critical components of national economic development.
Rural transport development ensures better mobility and access in rural areas. The national transport survey found that a higher percentage of the population cannot afford the high cost of transport. This limits their access to transport and therefore social and economic opportunities. This perpetuates underdevelopment and isolation from mainstream public transport system.
The National Land Transport Act of 2009 provides for different levels of government to be responsible for planning. The Rural Transport Strategy is expected to contribute to the formulation of the National Planning Guidelines for rural district municipalities’ public transport network plans.
Civil aviation serves as a major catalyst for global economic activities and is vital to trade and tourism. South Africa’s major airports include:
- OR Tambo International in Gauteng
- Cape Town International in the Western Cape
- King Shaka International in KwaZulu-Natal
- Bram Fischer in the Free State
- Port Elizabeth International in the Eastern Cape
- Upington International in the Northern Cape
- East London Airport in the Eastern Cape
- George Airport in the Western Cape
- Kimberley Airport in the Northern Cape
- Polokwane International Airport in Limpopo
- Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport in Mpumalanga.
Air Traffic and Navigation Services
The ATNS provides air traffic, navigation, training and associated services within South
Africa and a large part of the Southern Indian and Atlantic Ocean, comprising approximately 10% of the world’s airspace. South Africa is committed to regional aviation safety, security and environmental issues.
The National Scholar Transport Policy provides a framework for safe and secure transport for learners through the cooperation of stakeholders and law-enforcement authorities. The
DoT developed the national operational guidelines to remedy operational challenges that provinces have in implementing the Scholar Transport Programme.
The DoT continues to make a difference in the lives of many learners in rural and farmland areas through the Shova Kalula initiative, which supplies learners with non- motorised mobility in the form of bicycles.
Taxi and bus industries
The taxi industry remains the most important part of South Africa’s public transport system. Taxis are the preferred type of road transport. With more than 200 000 taxis on the road, the taxi industry generates about R40 billion per year and has created approximately 300 000 direct and indirect job opportunities, including drivers, taxi marshals and administrative support.
According to Stats SA’s General Household Survey of 2019, some 37,8% of South African households had at least one household member who used a minibus taxi/sedan taxi/bakkie taxi during the week preceding the survey. Provinces with the highest levels of minibus taxi use were: Gauteng (45,7%), Mpumalanga (38,3%), and KwaZulu-Natal (38,2%). By comparison, 5,6% of South African households used a bus during the preceding week. It is notable that 15,5% of households in Mpumalanga used the bus. The use of trains was most common in Western Cape (4,2%) and Gauteng (3,7%).
Integrated public transport networks
Bus Rapid Transport (BRT)
An integrated public transport network is central to the functioning of hubs of economic activity as they provide sustainable, affordable and functional transport solutions to urban commuters.
The rapid public transport networks in South Africa include:
- MyCiTi in Cape Town, Western Cape.
- Rea Vaya in Johannesburg, Gauteng.
- A Re Yeng (Let’s go) in Pretoria, Gauteng.
- Go George in George, Western Cape.
- Harambee in Ekurhuleni, Gauteng.
- Yarona in Rustenburg, North West.
- GO!Durban in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.
- Libhongolethu in Nelson Mandela Bay, Eastern Cape.
The Gautrain is an 80-km long mass rapid transit railway system that links Johannesburg, Pretoria and OR Tambo International Airport. It was built to relieve traffic congestion in the Johannesburg-Pretoria traffic corridor and offer commuters a viable alternative to road transport, as Johannesburg had limited public transport infrastructure.
The Gautrain offers two distinct train services: An Airport Service linking Sandton and Marlboro to the ORTambo International Airport and a Commuter Service linking Rhodesfield, Marlboro, and Sandton (east-west link) and Park, Rosebank, Sandton, Midrand, Centurion, Pretoria Central and Hatfield (north-south link). All stations with the exception of the Airport Station have integrated car parking facilities.
South African’s length of the coastline is estimated to be approximately 3 000 km. The Maritime Transport Policy aims to enhance certainty in the transport sector and the logistics market.
The objectives of the Arrive Alive Road-Safety Campaign, especially during the Easter and December holidays, are to reduce the number of road-traffic accidents in general and fatalities in particular, and improve road-user compliance with traffic laws.
The goals of the campaign are to:
- reduce the number of road-traffic accidents in general, and fatalities in particular, by 5% compared with the same period the previous year.
- improve road-user compliance with traffic laws.
- forge improved working relationships between traffic authorities in the various spheres of government.