Report by CAJ News Team
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – PLAYERS and stakeholders in the transport sector and technology experts have called for the adoption of technology, collaborations and compliance to steer transformation of the public transport sector.
This follows a meeting held in Johannesburg, organised by the African Press Association (APA) in the wake of challenges afflicting the sector despite it playing a key role in South Africa’s economy.
“Technology has a key role to transform the sector and ultimately improve the quality of lives and communities,” said Industry Value Engineer at Systems, Applications and Products (SAP) Africa, Sahmeer Allie.
He emphasised on the role of technology through analysing data to provide reliable and safe transport.
SAP is the global software and technology solutions company.
Allie pointed out while South Africa had among the most advanced public transport systems with modes such as the hi-speed Gautrain, challenges still persisted.
“Gautrain is reliable and efficient but there are still problems around other services that one could use after disembarking. We have the services. It is all about bringing them together.”
Professor Jackie Walters, Head of Transport and Supply Chain Management at the University of Johannesburg, concurred.
“There is a need to transform transport through technology; from planning to daily operations. It must be simple and seamless,” Walters said.
Another expert in supply chain management, Kamogelo Mampane, highlighted the potential of the transport sector if well managed.
“New industries can be created if opportunities are created and the public transport sector is utilized,” said Mamapne.
Meanwhile, Allie highlighted other challenges as lack of skills to maintain the sector and the negative perception besetting the sector.
The negative perception is largely on the taxi industry, which is seen as the Achilles heel of the transport sector.
Thabiso Molelekwa, spokesperson of the South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO) said the organisation had adopted a raft of measures to redeem the industry’s image in light of the critical role in the country’s economy.
“Even during the toughest of economic times, we still transport some 16 million people without fail every day,” he said.
He noted the taxi industry was a significant contributor to the gross domestic product locally, with an annual contribution of R4 billion.
Molelekwa said the organisation had, through collaborations with the public and law enforces, taken action on ill-disciplined drivers.
The taxi union was awarding exemplary drivers and embracing technology in line with global trends to enhance professionalism as well as empower drivers.
Maphefo Anno-Frempong, Chief Executive Officer of Transport Education Training Authority (TETA), highlighted the agency’s commitment to transformation in the sector.
TETA, she said they empowered operators on technical skills, management and leadership training among others.
She highlighted the need of the taxi industry to embrace such trainings as well as contributing to the Skills Development Levy so their members could benefit from empowerment projects.
Meanwhile, Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) General Manager: Hishaam Emeran disclosed the agency had invested significantly in reviving the rail system amid a decline in the number of travelers using the system from the previous year.
PRASA has embarked on a modernisation exercise that will be carried out of the next decade.
“I doubt there is any rail agency in t he world undertaking such a rollout at one go,” said Emeran.
Dr Cornel Malan, Head: Research at Railway Safety Regulator, called for proper planning to ensure efficiency.
This, she said would eliminate such setbacks as delays and curb vandalism.
“We need have a system planned according to needs. Current systems make it really a challenge to know how many people are travelling where and where the most demand is. We need systems in place so we can manage the numbers,” said Malan.
Delivering the closing remarks, Roy Alves, Axis Communications Country Manager, said strides had been made despite some challenges.
“I think South Africa deserves a big pat on the back in terms of strides it has made, particularly regarding the area of technology,” he concluded.
APA, the pan-African news supplier, organised the event to discuss general transport matters to policy, skills development, innovation safety and other pertinent issues in the public transport sector.
APA Chief Executive Officer, Savious Kwinika, said the event followed the realisation leading African economies, particularly South Africa, were facing pressing challenges in addressing problems around public transport.
“The main challenge lies in resolving public transport with a view to improving the lives of the majority who spend much of their income on transport, usually to and from work,” said Kwinika.
– CAJ News