Sandton EcoMobility World Festival underway

Pretoria - A number of roads in the Sandton CBD have been closed off to private vehicles for the duration of the EcoMobility World Festival 2015 since yesterday until the end of the month, to mark Transport Month.

Johannesburg City Mayor Parks Tau on Thursday said there were some discomforts in Sandton roads since road closures, but this is an inevitable price all have to pay to usher in a new and sustainable era of alternative modes of transport, to reduce congestion, carbon emissions and the overall negative economic impact these have on the city.

“As it stands, the economic impact that results from congestion in the whole of South Africa is over R1 billion, and Johannesburg accounts for the highest loss with more than 1.5 million vehicles registered across the metropolitan.

“As the city’s economic hub and Africa’s richest square mile, Sandton is under threat of becoming a giant parking lot and subsequently collapsing our economic wellbeing,” he said.

He called on all who live and play in Johannesburg to act to safeguard not only the environment, but the economic health too.

“The health of our economy significantly contributes to the creation of a safe, resilient and sustainable city that is envisioned by the Joburg Growth and Development Strategy 2040,” he said.

He said Sandton is one of the most congested areas in South Africa and the picture of traffic in the precinct is a very gloomy one.

According to the Mayor, on a daily basis between 7.30am and 08.30am, almost 150 000 people move in and out of Sandton. Of the total traffic on Sandton roads around the same time up to 70% of it is in fact private vehicles.

The Mayor has a vision of the city, in partnership with various Sandton stakeholders, aiming at bringing down the percentage of private vehicles to 43%.

“This will leave about 20% buses, 10% pedestrians and for the first time a 3% of cyclists.

“The City is working towards an urban design with liveable and accessible nodes that are characterised by an integrated transport system, residential densification along corridors, a permeable pedestrian network and cycling paths that are connected to green spaces, ticketing and information,” he said.

He said the Festival is set to demonstrate that it is possible to create a sustainable and liveable environment for all and for a city the size of Johannesburg to move towards a low-carbon future.

“If we are to continue striving to become a competitive global city, the time is now to start implementing the idea of ecomobility in Johannesburg. The Festival is an event of global importance with local relevance and this is evident in the picture I have just painted,” he said.