Leading transport into the future

Leading transport into the future

Scheduled to take place between July 7 and 10 at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) International Convention Centre in Pretoria, the 33rd Southern African Transport Conference will look at some of our most pressing issues, as well as possible solutions to improve transportation in southern Africa.

One example is the paper titled: A policy analysis study as input into the effective implementation of facets of the National Development Plan (NDP). The paper examines how, to a large extent, South Africa has based its future social and economic development to 2030 on the NDP – in which all facets of transport form an important element.

It’s easy to understand why this is the case, in light of what Jason Muscat, senior industry analyst at FNB Economics, says: “Transport systems and infrastructure are the lifeblood of any economy.”

President Jacob Zuma also mentioned, during his State of the Nation address, that the South African government has invested about R1 trillion in new infrastructure projects to provide water, energy, transport, sanitation, schools and clinics to its citizens. Over the next three years, the government will spend a further R847 billion on infrastructure and other projects.

“We believe that this significant investment is certainly a step in the right direction, and will have many positive spinoffs,” says Muscat. “The planned construction will create jobs within many sectors of the economy. This means more people will have an income, which they will be able to spend. We hope this will be the beginning of a virtuous circle, wherein we generate faster economic growth, thereby helping to alleviate poverty and unemployment.”

He emphasises that, as far as transport is concerned, the planned investment is likely to bring down the cost of transportation and help drive efficiencies – ultimately making goods cheaper.

Until then, however, the picture remains bleak. “Costs are rising at a time when demand is frail,” Muscat points out. “A weak rand has driven up the price of fuel and new vehicles, and is likely to constrain more robust capital investment. Deteriorating road infrastructure and increasing congestion also add to operating cost considerations, and the fact that the country is so dependent on road freight makes it vulnerable to transport cost increases.”

Be sure to attend the upcoming Southern African Transport Conference (themed “Leading Transport into the Future”) and look out for future editions of FOCUS for more views on the transport industry and our economy as expressed at the conference.

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