Transport crises, transport opportunities
There are crises in the South African transport sector, but this same sector is also rife with opportunities.
This according to Ofentse Mokwena, a lecturer and researcher in transport economics at the North-West University (NWU).
With October being Transport Month, Ofentse feels both the good and the bad should be emphasised.
“Transport is not just about taking us from point A to point B; it also facilitates communication and the sharing of ideas, and provides access to services and goods,” says Ofentse.
“Every month is Transport Month, but it is important that once a year we are reminded of the social and economic impact of transport.”
And what about the crises?
Ofentse says there are numerous predicaments facing our public transport sector. “Public transport agencies that receive government subsidies are losing customers.
“Then again, services that don’t receive government subsidies and have to fend for themselves are growing, since more and more people are making use of their services. This creates an imbalance and we need public transport to be affordable.”
Not all doom and gloom
The picture is however not all doom and gloom. “There are a number of opportunities that awaits us in new policies, technology, labour management and business development,” explains Ofentse.
“From an investment perspective the industry provides the biggest opportunities, such as the manufacturing of busses, trains and taxi’s.
“Let’s also keep in mind that the theme of this year’s Transport Month is road safety. But, many municipalities’ budgets do not allow for the improvement of road safety, therefore not supporting this year’s theme.
“However, there are opportunities in rural areas where they are investing time and effort in the creation of transport departments at both district and municipal levels,” says Ofentse.
“This is where the impact of talented people and the availability of technology can reap great rewards. We need students to study transport economics because there is a greater need than ever before.”