New bus plan for PMB

2012-02-17 00:00

FOR frustrated Pietermaritzburg commuters, hope may be on the horizon.

The city of Pietermaritzburg yesterday unveiled a multi-billion-rand public transport plan to alleviate traffic congestion, reduce transport times and create jobs.

Msunduzi Mayor Chris Ndlela revealed this during the launch of the R3 billion first phase of the Integrated Rapid Public Transport Network (IRPTN) at the city hall yesterday.

This is a similar initiative to the Bus Rapid Transit in Cape Town and Johannesburg, which will see separate traffic lanes for buses, taxis, bicycles and pedestrians.

There will also be specially constructed bus stops and areas designated for picking up passengers.

The system will cover approximately 2 500 km of the city’s roads, and 1 250 km of pedestrian access ways and tracks.

More buses will be utilised as part of the plan.

Ndlela said this marked a milestone for the city as the IRPTN system integrates different modes of transport, services, businesses and infrastructure.

“We are creating a new state-of-the-art, world-class transport system that will change the face of the capital city,” said Ndlela.

He said the project was approved by the national cabinet and the national treasury will fund it.

The construction phase will create about 1 000 job opportunities, he said.

“Once the project is completed about 1 000 permanent jobs will be created by the municipality and the private sector will also create permanent employment through this project,” said Ndlela.

He said people will spend less time travelling through the city as the new public transport system will focus on upgrading routes from the Vulindlela, Edendale, Imbali, central business district and the northern suburbs.

“This will help alleviate traffic congestion. It will be user friendly for pensioners and people living with disabilities,” said Ndlela.

He emphasised the need to talk until a solution is found to the public transport stakeholders who will be affected by this initiative.

Municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi said there is no rush to implement the system and that issues surrounding the implementation will be properly scrutinised. “We will do this project at our own pace because we have no 2010 Soccer World Cup to push us to accelerate it like other cities and we understand the challenges they faced so we do not have to repeat them,” said Mxolisi.

Provincial Transport spokesperson, Kwanele Ncalane, said they fully support the city. “We have designed a comprehensive strategy for four other districts in the province so that such an initiative does not exist in silos, but are integrated to boost the economic growth in the city,” he added.

Paris Dlamini, president of the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business, said such initiatives are in line with the state of the nation address by the President Jacob Zuma, that the creation of infrastructure will help in creating job opportunities.

The Chamber said they will ensure that small, micro and medium enterprises benefit.

Boy Zondi, the chairperson of Msunduzi Regional Taxi Council, said they are happy that finally attention has been paid to Msunduzi’s public transport. “We need to be consulted — not only the leadership of the taxi industry, but operators need to be consulted as well,” he said.

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