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 development and maintenance of an efficient and competitive transport system is a key objective of the National Development Plan (NDP) and of Outcome 6 (an efficient, competitive and responsive economic infrastructure network) of the Medium Term Strategic Framework 2014-2019.

The 1996 White Paper on Transport defines the different subsectors in the transport sector. Broadly, these are the infrastructure and operations of rail, pipelines, roads, airports, harbours as well as the cross-modal operations of public transport and freight. The Department of Transport (DoT) is responsible for the legislation and policies for all these subsectors.

The Department of Transport (DoT) is therefore responsible for conducting sector research, formulating legislation and policy to set the strategic direction of subsectors, assigning responsibilities to public entities and other levels of government, regulating through setting norms and standards, and monitoring implementation.

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"

Commercial role players include:

Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa

PRASA provides rail commuter services within, to and from South Africa in the public interest. In consultation with the DoT, it also provides for long haul passenger rail and bus services within, to and from South Africa. The agency was expected over the medium term to deliver 70 new train sets for Metrorail and 25 new locomotives for Shosholoza Meyl, complete 141 train station improvement projects, and refurbish 1 230 coaches for Metrorail and Shosholoza Meyl.

By mid-2017, a total of 18 new trains, affectionately known as “The People’s Train”, had been delivered. The new trains are part of the first roll-out which will be implemented over the next 20 years.

The remaining 580 trains will be built in South Africa by Gibela at a local factory in Dunnottar Park, Ekurhuleni.

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.


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.

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 Management Corporation

RTMC 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 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.

South African National Roads Agency Limited

SANRAL is responsible for the design, financing, maintenance, operation and rehabilitation of South Africa’s national toll and non-toll roads.

The toll-road network comprises about 15% of the national road network of about 21 451 km. SANRAL manages some 1 832 km of these toll roads.

South Africa has a vast road network of 750 000 km, ranging from freeways to grave roads and is the tenth longest road network in the world. In an effort to alleviate traffic congestion, save time and migrate towards cashless tolling, SANRAL is also using an optional toll-collection method that uses a tag fitted on the windscreen. SANRAL’s total road network is 21 451 km (93%) and its has awarded concessions to the following three private companies to be responsible for 6,2% of the road network:

  • Bakwena Toll Concessionaires (1,6%) manages the section of the N1 north of Pretoria up to the Bela Bela interchange, and the N4 travelling west towards the Botswana border, known as the Platinum Highway – 352 km.
  • Trans African Concessions (2,7%) is responsible for the 570 km of the road between Solomon Mahlangu off-ramp in Tshwane and the Port of Maputo in Mozambique.
  • N3 Toll Concessions manages the N3 between Heidelberg in Gauteng and Cedara near Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal – 415 km.

Cross Border Road Transport Agency

The agency’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.

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.

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 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.

National Transport Master Plan

The NATMAP 2050 is aimed at delivering a dynamic, longterm and sustainable transportation system framework which is demand responsive and that provides a coordinated transport agenda for the whole country.

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.

South African Civil Aviation Authority

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

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.

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.

Taxi and bus industries

The taxi industry remains the most important part of South Africa’s public transport system. Taxis, which move 68% of the 5,4 million daily, 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.

Integrated public transport networks

Bus Rapid Transport (BRT)

South Africa has introduced rapid public transport networks which contribute to economic development, job creation and tourism.

  • In Cape Town, MyCiTi is moving an average of 42 522 people against a target of 50 000 per weekday.
  • Rea Vaya in Johannesburg is moving an average of 33 670 people against a target of 40 000 per weekday.
  • In Pretoria, A Re Yeng is moving an average of 3 000 people against a target of 10 000 per weekday.
  • Go George is moving an average of 7 630 people against a target of 10 000 per weekday in George, Cape Town.
  • The City of Ekurhuleni was expected to launch Harambee (pulling or working together in Kiswahili), in 2016.
  • The Rustenburg Rapid Transport system in North West was expected to serve an 18 km trunk line network of dedicated bus lanes and station terminals.
  • GO!Durban is the term and brand used to refer to Durban’s Integrated Rapid Public Transport Network.

All the South African BRT systems will expand in phases over the next decade.


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 MRCC 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 is co-sponsored by more than 90 countries.

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.

About 88% of the crashes are caused by human factors, with an average of 40 people dying and 20 left permanently disabled every day.

Source: Pocket Guide to South Africa

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