Role players
Public transport
Road safety



Cover page of Transport chapter in South Africa Pocket GuideThe Constitution of the Republic of South Africa of 1996 identifies the legislative responsibilities of different spheres of government with regard to airports, roads, traffic management and public transport. Transport is a function that is legislated and executed at the national, provincial and local spheres of government.

The implementation of transport functions at the national level takes place through public entities that are overseen by the department, each with a specific delivery mandate, as specified in legislation establishing these entities.

The 1996 White Paper on Transport defines the infrastructure and operations of rail, pipelines, roads, airports, harbours, and the intermodal operations of public transport and freight.

The Department of Transport (DoT)  is responsible for the legislation and policies for all these sub-sectors. The department is therefore responsible for conducting sector research, formulating legislation and policy to set the strategic direction of sub-sectors, assigning responsibilities to public entities and other spheres of government, 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.

Over the medium term, the department plans to focus on improving mobility and access to social and economic activities by facilitating and creating an enabling environment for maintaining provincial and national road networks, modernising passenger rail infrastructure and improving services, and integrating public transport.

The department’s strategic goals are to, among other things, ensure an efficient and integrated infrastructure network that serves as a catalyst for social and economic development; ensure a safe and secure transport sector; improve rural access, infrastructure and mobility; improve public transport systems, and increase the contribution of the transport sector to job creation.

Transport infrastructure and services support economic growth and development by connecting people and goods to markets. The development and maintenance of an efficient and competitive transport system is a key objective of the NDP.

The DoT aims to maintain the national and provincial road networks, upgrade rail infrastructure and services, and expand road based public transport.

The implementation of transport functions at the national sphere takes place through public entities that are overseen by the department.

Role players

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

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.

The company is one of the concessionaires operating Mumbai International Airport in India and Guarulhos International Airport in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

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.

Over the medium term, PRASA aimed to improve the safety and reliability of, and the access to, rail services by maintaining and refurbishing existing train sets, acquiring new rolling stock, and investing in capital for the upgrade and modernisation of railway signalling and other infrastructure, including depots and stations.

During the 2017/18 financial year, the major spending on the capital budget transferred to PRASA, was directed on the modernisation process to replace the signalling systems, ageing rolling stock and upgrade of rail infrastructure.

A major achievement was on the rolling stock fleet renewal programme, a catalyst for the transformation of Metrorail as a whole, as part of the Government’s Comprehensive Rail Programme over the next two decades. The three main deliverables of the Rolling Stock Renewal Programme whose delivery cuts across the medium term were achieved as follows:

  • The construction of testing facilities, depots and test track were handed over to Gibela in June 2016.
  • The manufacturing process of the 20 train sets in Brazil was completed in August2017, with the arrival of the last sets delivered to Wolmerton Depot.
  • The construction of the local manufacturing plant (Local Factory), to manufacture 580 train sets in Dunnottar, Nigel has been completed. Manufacturing activities have commenced and it was anticipated that two new, locally produced trains would be delivered in December 2018.

PRASA launched the new rolling stock on the Pienaarspoort to Pretoria railway corridor in May 2017. The South African rail network is the 11th largest in the world at 22 298 route kilometres, and total track distance of 30 400 km.

Public sector railways comprise three distinct vertically integrated entities, namely the Transnet Freight Rail division of Transnet SOC Ltd (previously Transnet Limited), PRASA and the Gautrain Management Agency.

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 non-urban roads and 168 000 km of urban roads. Government has set aside R3 billion to upgrade the Limpopo and Mpumalanga sections of the Moloto Road, with an estimated 12 500 jobs to be created over the five-year period of the project.

In the 2018/19 financial year, the department was expected to continue to develop the road network to unlock the Northern Mineral Belt in the Waterberg District (Limpopo), the Durban- Free State-Gauteng Logistics and Industrial Corridor; the South Eastern node and corridor development, including Mthatha Airport and the N2 Wild Coast; and also to unlock economic opportunities in the North West.

As part of reviewing the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Scheme, the DoT was expected to heighten consultations with all involved government spheres and non-governmental stakeholders. These consultations will form a critical path towards the discussion of the SANRAL Operating model, which includes the New Toll Roads Policy.

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.

During 2017/18, the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) Amendment Bill was introduced to Parliament and further parliamentary consultative processes have been conducted.

This AARTO Bill, which includes the demerit point system, will bring tougher consequences for traffic offenders; and an envisaged reclassification of traffic violations to Schedule 5 offences to ensure that minimum sentences are introduced for extremely serious traffic violations such as excessive speeding, reckless and negligent driving and driving under the influence of alcohol.

The DoT also intends to harmonise road traffic law enforcement and establish a Single Traffic Police Unit. As part of efforts to alleviate the scourge of road accidents and incidents, the department continues to work tirelessly to ensure that law enforcement is declared an essential service to guarantee availability of traffic officers on a 24/7 on the roads.

Anti-Fraud and Corruption operations would be intensified at all public and private Driver Learning Testing centres and driving schools around the country.

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.

Commercial role players include:

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 airport network consists of 135 licensed airports, 19 military airports and up to 1 300 unlicensed aerodromes.

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) 2017, more than two-thirds (68,1%) of learners walked to school while a further 8,2% used private vehicles. Another 4,9% 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 2017, taxis were the most commonly used form of public/ subsidised transport in South Africa as 37,1% of households had at least one household member who used a minibus/sedan taxi or bakkie taxi during the week preceding the survey.

While approximately two-thirds (66,8%) of individuals that attended an educational institution walked there, only 20,5% of individuals walked to work. Only 9,4% of individuals travelling to school travelled by private car while a further 7,1% used taxis. Private vehicles remained the most common source of transport.

The Public Transport Strategy, as well as the Taxi Recapitalisation Programme, have been reviewed to enhance provision of integrated public transport solutions. The DoT has also developed the Integrated Public Transport Turnaround Plan, which aims to optimise public transport service offerings in both rural and urban spaces.

Integrated public transport networks

Bus Rapid Transport (BRT)

The BRT Programme is the road-based component of the BRT Public Transport Strategy that was approved by Cabinet in March 2007. It is designed to move large numbers of people to all parts of a city quickly and safely.

The aim of the BRT system is to link different parts of a city into a network. Government wants to ensure that by 2020, most city residents are no more than 500 m away from a BRT station.

The system features dedicated bus-only lanes, as well as bus stations that are safe, comfortable, protected from the weather and friendly to passengers with special needs, such as children, the elderly, the sight and hearing impaired.

It is part of a public-private partnership in which cities build and maintain the infrastructure, stations, depots, control centres and a fare collection system. Private operators own and manage the buses, hire staff and provide services on a long-term contract.

BRT systems combine the best features of rail with the flexibility and cost advantages of road-based transport, and have the added advantage of being easier and faster to build than a light rail transport system.

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. In 2017, Gauteng launched a new user-friendly website and mobile application on which users can register and receive profiled and relevant travel information online at their own convenience.

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 Transport Official Guide to South Africa 2017/18 8 Central and Hatfield (north-south link). All stations with the exception of the Airport station have integrated car parking facilities. The Gautrain bus fleet currently operates on 25 routes. 


South African’s length of the coastline is estimated to be approximately 3 000 km. In South Africa, the greatest challenge was the absence of a Maritime Transport Policy (MTP) that needed to provide guidance to the industry. This Comprehensive MTP, approved by Cabinet in the 2017/18 financial year, aims to enhance certainty in the transport sector and the logistics market.

South Africa currently has four ships on its Ship Register and there is commitment to grow the SA Ship Register through the creation of a conducive environment and providing incentives to shipowners as an encouragement to set up offices and possibly register under the South African flag.

By mid-2018, the Merchant Shipping Act of 1951 was being reviewed to take into account developing trends and challenges. The South African Maritime Training Academy at Simon’s Town in the Western Cape provides advanced training to the broader maritime sector, including the merchant navy, harbour-craft operations, the fishing industry and the South African Navy.

The South African Merchant Navy Academy at Granger Bay, is integrated with the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, with a similar training facility at the Durban Institute of Technology.

The Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre enables South Africa to exercise its responsibilities to the international community by employing state-of-the-art search-and-rescue infrastructure and services. South Africa has a well-established pollution prevention strategy, and is ready to respond in case of threats to the environment or to provide assistance to vessels at risk.

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 has developed the GTS, 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 will provide 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 will also use 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 2017/18 

Related information