Structures not needed in scaled-down service will be opened to ease congestion
After billions of rands were poured into building bus lanes for Nelson Mandela Bay’s beleaguered Integrated Public Transport System (IPTS), the municipality now wants to remove some of the infrastructure to ease traffic flow.
This, as the metro plans to implement a scaled-down version of the IPTS and roll out only three routes over the next three years, as opposed to the five routes that were initially planned.
Presenting a progress report of his first 100 days in office, mayor Athol Trollip said the DA-led coalition government had done more than its predecessors by bringing about change to the city.
Since stepping into City Hall more than three months ago, the municipality has hired, fired, halved the salaries of political appointees, saved close to R200-million and drastically improved service delivery, according to Trollip.
Addressing the media at City Hall, he said the metro had secured German funding totalling ß150 000 (R2.2-million) over three years for specialists to assess and advise on how to improve the Bay’s transport systems.
“For example, in Kempston Road, where the road is so congested … that people can’t really operate and businesses are suffering – how can we best eliminate that congestion?” he said.
“It’s for advice, planning, scientific research – it’s free money that this administration has gone to find so citizens ultimately have a public transport system that will take them where they want to go at an affordable rate.”
The municipality has spent about R2.5-billion on the IPTS system, the bulk of the money pumped into infrastructure for the bus lanes.
Trollip said while there was no budget available to remove the concrete infrastructure of the bus lanes, the lanes that would not be used for the IPTS over the next three years would be opened up.
The metro has targeted April for the launch of the Cleary Park route, which will run from Cleary Park to the central business district and NMMU.
The Njoli Square route will be rolled out in the following financial year and the Uitenhage route the year after.
Trollip used Kempston Road as an example of a heavily congested road that would be opened up for motorists to use by removing the yellow rumble strips.
A large part of Kempston Road was closed for months when the IPTS lanes were constructed, crippling businesses, which complained at the time that they had lost out on revenue.
He said IPTS infrastructure had been rolled out and built for a comprehensive system without the necessary expertise, capacity and even infrastructure.
“Any infrastructure that has been built, that compounds traffic congestion, will ultimately have to be changed or eradicated,” Trollip said.
“Eradication is going to cost us money that we don’t have, but changing it and simply getting rid of those yellow [rumble strips] that prevent a vehicle from crossing into another lane, we will remove those so that we can have free access into those lanes where buses are not going to go.”
Meanwhile, the metro’s political head of roads and transport, Rano Kayser, said the municipality no longer had any arrangement with Laphum’ilanga – the secondary cooperative that represented the taxi industry to run the IPTS.
He said the municipality was negotiating directly with the 10 associations in the Bay about signing a new memorandum of agreement.
Touching on some of the new administration’s work over the past three months, Trollip said that after a lengthy disciplinary process corporate services boss Mod Ndoyana had been fired.
However, city manager Johann Mettler clarified later that Ndoyana had been found guilty by the disciplinary panel but still had to be sentenced.
Mettler said the director of supply chain management, Ndimphiwe Mantyontya, had been placed on precautionary suspension pending the outcome of a disciplinary hearing.
Mantyontya is in hot water over a number of bungles related to the beleaguered tender department.
Trollip said they had banned firstclass domestic air travel, cancelled dubious contracts with Mohlaleng Media and Afrisec, and improved the response time for fixing reported potholes to a 72-hour turnaround time.
He conceded that the metro could have handled the issue of account defaulters, by blocking their prepaid meters, better.
“Am I happy with the 100 days in office?
“Yes, I am, although I would be happier if we had achieved all the targets we set out,” Trollip said.