This paper serves to explore the significance of the national road network. The paper examines its importance as key facilitator for progress and growth, to attract much needed direct foreign investment and to create jobs. It also examines how some roads generate barriers for social interaction of people in the communities either side of the road, with serious negative consequences. These include traffic accidents, exclusion from job and work opportunities, and isolation for vulnerable members of society including people with disabilities. The colonial and apartheid engineering standards used to design roads in South Africa, the correlation with the emergence of the use of roads as a tool to divide communities in the Palestine-Israel conflict, and the national promotion of gated communities by municipalities and the private sector are analysed. The paper recommends that roads standards should be redrafted so that the accommodation of pedestrians and public transport users becomes of equal importance to the private motorists. Further, that without doing so, the policy documents of different government departments promoting alternatives to private vehicle transport, become empty rhetoric.
Papers presented at the 38th International Southern African Transport Conference on "Disruptive transport technologies - is South and Southern Africa ready?" held at CSIR International Convention Centre, Pretoria, South Africa on 8th to 11th July 2019.