South African Government

Let's grow South Africa together


Maintaining provincial and national road network
Transport trends
Public transport
Road safety



Cover page of Transport chapter in Official Guide to South Africa 2018/2019The Department of Transport (DoT) is responsible for the legislation and policies for rail, pipelines, roads, airports, harbours, and the intermodal operations of public transport and freight.

It is responsible for conducting sector research, formulating legislation and policy to set the strategic direction of subsectors, assigning responsibilities to public entities, regulating through setting norms and standards, and monitoring implementation.

Chapter 4 of the National Development Plan (NDP) calls for the development of economic infrastructure as the foundation of social and economic development. This call is given action by Outcome 6 (an efficient, competitive and responsive economic infrastructure network) of government’s 2014-2019 Medium Term Strategic Framework, which is directly aligned with the work of the DoT.

The 12 public entities under the Ministry of Transport are the:

Commercial role players include Transnet, South African Airways (SAA) and South African Express (SAX)

Maintaining provincial and national road network

Roads are a crucial component of South Africa’s transport system and economy. According to the Land Transport Survey, which was released by Statistics South Africa in 2018, 77.3% of freight categorised as land freight in South Africa is hauled on its roads, accounting for 73.8% of total land freight income.

This dependence on road infrastructure implies that the condition of roads has direct bearing on the ease of movement of goods and people across South Africa, which impacts overall economic growth.

In this regard, SANRAL carries out upgrades, maintenance and strengthening programmes of the non-toll and toll portfolios on national roads. About 49 000 kilometres of the South African paved road network remain under the control of provincial transport departments. 

Transport trends

Statistics South Africa’s General Household Survey of 2018 shows that in 2018, just under two-thirds (64,6%) of the learners walked to school, while a further 9,0% travelled by private car, and 6,8% used taxis.

The most commonly used mode of transport to travel to work was a private car (33,7%), followed by taxis (24,0%) and walking (20,4%). The study found that 11,9% of the working population worked from home and that they therefore had no need for transport.

Some 36,7% 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 (44,1%), Eastern Cape (39,6%), and Mpumalanga (37,5%). By comparison, 6,2% of South African households used a bus during the preceding week. It is notable that 15,0% of households in Mpumalanga used the bus. The use of trains was most common in Western Cape (5,8%) and Gauteng (5,3%). 

Airports Company South Africa (ACSA)

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.

Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA)

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.

The department continues its efforts to modernise South Africa’s passenger rail services through PRASA. Over the medium term, the agency was expected to ocus on executing its capital programme, intensifying its repairs and maintenance regime, and improving security on the rail network, to improve the reliability of services and increase passenger ridership.

Capital transfers to the agency over the medium term were expected to fund the acquisition of 163 new trainsets, eight new locomotives, the refurbishment of 1 140 train coaches, and upgrades and improvements to 24 train stations. Other transfers were expected to subsidise 438 million passenger trips on Metrorail and 644 000 passengers on the long-distance mainline passenger services over the period ahead. 

South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL)

SANRAL is responsible for the design, financing, maintenance, operation and rehabilitation of South Africa’s national toll and non-toll roads. The total proclaimed roads in the country amount to approximately 535 000 km in length, 366 872 km of nonurban roads and 168 000 km of urban roads.

Ports Regulator of South Africa

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. 

Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS)

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.

Cross-Border Road Transport Agency (CBRTA)

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.

Railway Safety Regulator

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.

Road Accident Fund

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.

Road Traffic Infringement Agency

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.

Road Traffic Management Corporation

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.

South African Civil Aviation Authority

The SACAA promotes, regulates and enforces civil aviation safety and security standards across the aviation industry.

South African Maritime Safety Authority

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 Limited

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.

South African Airways

SAA is the leading carrier in Africa, serving 26 destinations across the continent, as well as major destinations within South Africa and internationally from its Johannesburg hub at OR Tambo International Airport and is a member of the largest international airline network, Star Alliance.

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.

South African Express Airways

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.

National Transport Master Plan (NAPMAP)

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 Strategy

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 nine major airports are:

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.

Public transport

Scholar transport

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.

According to Statistics South Africa’s (Stats SA) General Household Survey (GHS) of 2018, More than two-thirds (67,7%) of learners walked to school while 8,0% used private vehicles. Another 5,0% travelled to school by taxi or minibus taxi. 

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 GHS of 2018, some 36,7% of South African households had at least one household member who used a minibus taxi/sedan taxi/bakkie taxi in 2018. Provinces with the highest levels of minibus taxi use were: Gauteng (44,1%), Eastern Cape (39,6%), and Mpumalanga (37,5%).

By comparison, 6,2% of South African households used a bus. It is notable that 15,0% of households in Mpumalanga used the bus. The use of trains was most common in the Western Cape (5,8%) and Gauteng (5,3%). 

Integrated public transport networks

Bus Rapid Transport (BRT)

South Africa’s urban areas are hubs of economic activity, therefore, it is crucial that they maintain optimal functionality and remain engines of socio-economic growth. An integrated public transport network is central to the functioning of these hubs as they provide sustainable, affordable and functional transport solutions to urban commuters.

The rapid public transport networks which contribute to economic development, job creation and tourism include:


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 transports about 52 000 people a day (including weekends) or 1,2 million people a year.

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.,

Arrive Alive campaign

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.

Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011 – 2020

South Africa is a signatory to the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011–2020. The resolution called on member states to take the necessary steps to make their roads safer. The target of the decade is to reduce road fatalities by 50% by 2020.

The World Health Organisation was tasked with monitoring the situation by compiling a Global Status Report on progress made by the different member states towards the achievement of the decade target.

A key aspect of the Integrated Road Safety Management Programme is increasing pedestrian safety. In South Africa, there are close to 14 000 fatal road accidents a year, which cost the country over R300 billion.

The crashes occur as result of drivers not obeying or abiding to the laws in relation to driving of a motor vehicle on a public road. Although road traffic injuries have been a leading cause of mortality for many years, most traffic crashes are both predictable and preventable. Road crashes, injuries and fatalities are a public health problem development issue.

Green Transport Strategy (GTS)

The DoT is committed to making a significant impact in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It has developed the GTS (2018-2050), which seeks to address the adverse effects and impacts of transport on the environment and concurrently address the current and future transport demands based on the principles of sustainable development.

The GTS provides a clear and distinctive route of the environmental policy for the sector, by providing appropriate sector specific climate policy tools and corresponding mitigation and adaptations measures for the transport sector as well as a framework to implement the Transport Flagships within the National Climate Change Response Strategy.

The GTS also uses a basket of measures, which will address imperative issues such as fuel switching for the freight industry to assist with the high emission factor of this sector. The introduction and promotion of the uptake of cleaner fuels such as Liquefied Petroleum Gas and Compressed Natural Gas for freight vehicles will assist and support with the emission reductions efforts of the sector. 

The use of cleaner fuels should be supported by Intelligent Transportation Systems that can provide support for this initiative of introducing cleaner transportation and alternative fuel technology for the freight sector, whilst also collecting imperative mitigation data.

The Implementation Plan of the GTS will promote the uptake of “Smart Trucks” and then benchmark against the appropriate international standards to specify the performance required from the operation of a given vehicle on a network, rather than prescribing how the specified level of performance is to be achieved.

This approach will allow more flexibility for vehicle designers to utilise innovative solutions and the latest available technology to meet the required performance standards and improve fuel efficiency.

Source: Official Guide to South Africa 2018/19 

Related information