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R20bn Durban transport plan

[Nikon Makernote]Sharpening=AUTO

[Nikon Makernote]Sharpening=AUTO

Published Jul 29, 2013

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Durban - A R20 billion transformation of Durban’s public transport system over the next seven years is expected to connect 600 000 commuters across the city to nine public transport corridors.

The network will intergrate bus, rail and taxi transportation. The aim is to offer reliable and cheap commuter transport.

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The city promises it will be safe and secure and will be monitored by a control centre and closed circuit television cameras.

Work has already begun on the first phase of the eThekwini Integrated Rapid Public Transport Network to cost an estimated R10 billion over the next five years.

A further R10 billion will be spent to complete the project by 2020.

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As part of the first phase, bus shelters, dedicated bus and taxi lanes, pedestrian walkways and feeder routes will be built around Bridge City (which includes Phoenix, Inanda and Ntuzuma) as well as Durban including the city centre, Pinetown, Umlazi and Umhlanga.

The first phase of the project is expected to be completed by 2018.

By 2020,the public transport corridors will link the entire eThekwini Municipality almost like a spider web, with routes stretching as far as Hammarsdale to the west, Isipingo in the south and King Shaka International and Uthongathi to the north.

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The city is negotiating with minibus taxi and private bus owners who operate on these routes to relinquish their permits and become shareholders of the public transport company.

Head of the eThekwini Transport Authority, Thami Manyathi, said the project was not only geared to ease the growing congestion on the city’s roads. It aimed at creating a world-class public transport network similar to countries such as Singapore and Brazil.

Manyathi said the transport network would be monitored by a control centre.

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It would ensure passengers waited no longer than 10 minutes during peak periods and 30 minutes during off-peak periods.

“In the future we are going to ensure every resident - school children, workers and the elderly in Durban will be able get onto reliable public transport from outside their home all the way to their destination knowing that it is it safe and the driver is properly trained.”

“The entire route will be monitored by CCTV camera and there will be no dark corners at the bus terminals. We want to stress that this more than just public transport. It is about integrating land use and transport that will enable poor people who live far away from their jobs to have reliable and cheap transport,” he said.

Manyathi said phase one of the project would comprise of three Bus Rapid Transit routes - similar to Johannesburg and Cape Town - and one rail corridor.

The bus route would connect commuters from Bridge City to Durban central, Bridge City to Pinetown and Bridge City to Umhlanga. The rail corridor would stretch from Bridge City and KwaMashu, via King Dinuzulu Road (Berea) to Umlazi and Isipingo.

“We are in the process of putting down the dedicated corridors and priority lanes, and are looking at building the platforms for the stations. Once that is done we will come back and erect the station buildings,” he said.

Manyathi said negotiations with taxi and bus operators have been taking place since 2010 and they were hoping to sign a memorandum of understanding with taxi operators soon.

“We have formulated our thoughts on the key corridors, where the feeder routes will be and we have kept them in the loop. The endorsement of the minibus taxi industry is on track and we are completing a draft of the memorandum which is ready for signing. It will create the framework of how we negotiate the transformation. However, with regard to the private bus operators we still have a way to go,” he said.

Sudesh Ramdas, of the Durban Bus Owners Association, said they would not stand in the way of development but wanted a fair deal from the city.

“For more than 80 years we have transported people from their homes into the city, as the city could not. We are not against development but we need to be compensated for our buses and the routes we established.”

Ramdas said bus owners were discussing their options and were a long way off from a final decision.

“We need to perhaps get in an actuary who can tell us what our worth is. We went to a presentation with the city where they showed us how the whole thing will work and told us about becoming shareholders in the company and that is an option. But it’s not an easy decision as many of these businesses are family businesses.”

Chairman of the SA National Taxi Association, Bheki Mbambo, said they supported the city’s plans.

“We want to see progress in the city. We are behind this project as it takes us forward and we are happy with what the city has shown us. We still have a few issues to sort out and that is why we have not yet signed the memorandum of understanding.

“If everything is in order I see no reason for us not to join.”

Daily News

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