National transport framework outlines plans to restore SA’s transport infrastructure | Infrastructure news

The Department of Transport has gazetted its National Land Transport Strategic Framework (NLTS) for 2023-2028, outlining the government’s plans to revive and restore South Africa’s crumbling transport infrastructure.

According to the department, the NLTS is a guiding document, so it does not detail specific outcomes for transport in the country but rather provides a “vision” for how the sector should operate along with short-term (five-year) goals.

The NLTA empowers the Minister to prepare a National Land Transport Strategic Framework (NLTSF) every five years.

It embodies the overarching, national five-year (2023 to 2028) land transport strategy, which gives guidance on transport planning and land transport delivery by the national government, provinces in the development of Provincial Land Transport Frameworks (PLTFs), and municipalities in the development of the respective Integrated Transport Plans (ITPs) for the five-year period.

The NLTS’s actual value, however, is delivering a sober review of the current state of transport and related infrastructure in South Africa – and the results are not good.

The department outlined some of the biggest challenges around roads and transport in the country right now, including a “generation” of infrastructure neglect, apartheid-era spatial disparities keeping people far from public transport nodes, and overall administration and management complexities that make an integrated approach to planning incredibly difficult.

The purpose of the NLTSF is:

  • To serve as a five-year framework for integrated land-use transport planning
  • To serve as an enabler of land use and transport planning aspects as guided by the National
    Development Plan (NDP) 2030
  • To provide the guiding principles that integrate various modes of land transport within
    the planning context of the NDP and support wider relevant national legislation and policy
  • To provide clarity and certainty about the transport planning priorities to enable effective
    decision-making about programmes and initiatives at all levels of government
  • To align transport to sustainable development., and universal accessibility.
  • To enhance coordination between the various spheres of government.
The NLTSF is a framework for Transport Planning; effective for all spheres of government.

It sets the overarching goals, vision, and objectives for each element of the transport system which would be reflected in the Provincial Land Transport Frameworks (PLTFs) and Integrated Transport Plans (ITPs), and which must align with the NLTSF.

The success in achieving these objectives depends on the implementation of the transport programs and projects that emanate from the respective PLTFs and ITPs reflected through the Key Performance Areas as defined in the NLTSF.

Some of the biggest issues flagged by the report include:

  • Public transport integration, safety, universal accessibility, and efficiency remain a constant challenge despite the amount of money spent on subsidies and upgrades.
  • Exorbitant amounts are spent on private cars, relative to the fraction of the population that the car services, which is “unjustified”.
  • 87% of freight by weight is moved by road and 13% by rail, reflecting a significant imbalance in the freight transport system;
  • South Africa’s road fatalities and traffic accidents levels are among the worst in the world and show no significant reduced trend, indicating that the road safety strategy to date has not worked;
  • With the exception of the national road network, the road and rail infrastructure are generally under-maintained and a lack of strategic management and maintenance system, and subsequently funding;
  • The provision of pedestrian and cycling facilities is still not mandatory for new developments; there is no systematic focus on walking and cycling;
  • Land use planning priorities and interventions to ensure increased universally accessible densification and targeted growth along core corridors are not happening at a fast-enough pace.
  • A lack of institutional and management capacity is one of the most substantial short-term obstacles to achieving the policy objectives for transport.
According to the document, the five-year strategy to address these challenges is broad, with each aspect having its own short-term and long-term goals and objectives.

In general, however, the department wants to improve the public transport system and provide better and safer access, with more efficient and better-quality services.

This is because most people in South Africa do not have a private vehicle and depend on public transport and other non-motorised transport (NMT) to get to work, school or amenities.

The department noted that 26.3% of people in South Africa use walking as their main mode of transport to get to work, with 1.3% of the population using cycling. In rural areas, the number shifts to 39.2% of people who walk.

It said that, if properly planned, cycling and pedestrian networks can act as feeders to public transport – and given the low cost of this form of mobility, it has the potential to bring about equity and create accessibility for people who cannot afford public transport or private vehicles.

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