Paper presented at the 26th Annual Southern African Transport Conference 9 - 12 July 2007 "The challenges of implementing policy?", CSIR International Convention Centre, Pretoria, South Africa. ABSTRACT:“…if high-density is high-calorie, then Jozi is a couch potato who shuns exercise yet can’t stop gorging on rapid-growth koeksisters.”
(‘Gridlock’ – Sunday Times Lifestyle 22 April 2007)
The above, perhaps humorous quotation, vividly captures the setting in Johannesburg, and in fact, in Gauteng province as a whole. As one of the continent’s fastest growing economies, development in Gauteng has far out-run the available road infrastructure. The traffic conditions in many parts of Gauteng are long past critical, and ironically, the very growth that has resulted in the voracious demand for road infrastructure is threatened by the conditions resulting from that demand. For example, it is estimated that over R 930-million every year is lost through wasted work hours of commuters held up in congestion on the Ben Schoeman highway between Johannesburg and Pretoria. (Engineering News).
The intricacy of any transportation problem cannot be over-stated. As such, the issue of congestion is a complex one. Congestion, as experienced in Gauteng, is the result of many factors. Some technical factors such as poor infrastructure design may be held responsible for the congestion experienced in some places. If identified, these technical faults can be easily remedied, the only constraint being financial. The more complex factors responsible for congestion are socio-economic. These relate to economic development trends, societal perceptions and values, and transportation policies across all levels of government. The complexity of the issue is exacerbated by the fact that as there are different aspects contributing to the problem there are varying opinions on how best to deal with the problem.
Before discussing a specific case study of the congestion problem in Johannesburg, it is necessary to describe the policy context in which the issue of road traffic congestion exists.
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