Since 2005, South Africa annually observes October as Transport Month.
Let’s take a look at the themes.
2005: ‘Celebrating 20 years of delivering efficient, reliable and safe transport services’.
2006: ‘Transport – The Heartbeat of South Africa’s economy’.
2007: ‘Transport – The heartbeat of South Africa’s Economic Growth and Social Development.’
2008: ‘Transport infrastructure – Creating a lasting legacy 2010 and beyond.’
2009: ‘Safety in all modes of transport – air, rail, sea and road.’
2010: ‘Transport – the heartbeat of South Africa’s Economic Growth and Social Development.’
2011: ‘Year of Job Creation and Service Delivery in the Transport Sector – Moving South Africa to a Better Tomorrow.’
2012: ‘Working together to provide a safe and reliable transport system.’
2013: ‘Celebrating 20 years of delivering efficient, reliable and safe transport services.’
2014: ‘Together we move forward.’
2018: ‘Together we move South Africa forward.’
2019: ‘Together Let’s Keep the Service Delivery Momentum Going and Grow the Economy.’
2020: ‘Together shaping the future of transport.’
Forget the failure of imagination – at least the ANC has consistently maintained its sense of humour over the years. Of course, it’s only funny if you’re familiar with the state of public transport in South Africa today. Funny in a slash-your-wrists kind of way.
Here’s something I wrote 17 years ago today. If nothing else, it’s interesting to see how much – and how little – has changed.
I was beginning to think there was nothing worth living for when it suddenly occurred to me that today marks the start of Transport Month. Oh, what joy! Hurrah! Hurrah! A chorus of angels sounded their trumpets and a squirrel darted through an open window and handed me a nut. With a new lease of life, I sang like no one was listening and danced like no one was watching. It’s easy when you live alone. Startled, the squirrel ran across the road and got hit by a Golden Arrow bus. It was somehow fitting, coming as it did at the start of Transport Month.
Each province is celebrating Transport Month in its own unique way. In the Northern Cape, long-distance drivers have elected to wear condoms while entertaining their teenage guests in the tastefully decorated cubicles conveniently located behind the front seats.
In Gauteng, the Bombela Concession Company is allowing non-gay married couples to have a maximum of three minutes of sexual activity on the Gautrain. However, the chewing of gum will remain a criminal offence.
In the Eastern Cape, traffic police are waiving their usual Friday afternoon cash donations and will be accepting gifts of small livestock instead. If all you have on you is a sheep or a cow, the officer will, in keeping with the spirit of Transport Month, issue you with a chicken in lieu of change.
In Limpopo, truck drivers are being encouraged to enter win-a-tender raffles at the province’s many stop/go roadworks. With waits of up to three hours, motorists are invited to participate in the festivities by putting money into a hessian sack. The more you give to the Julius Malema Defence Fund, the more chance there is of getting to Polokwane alive. Fun for the whole family.
In KwaZulu-Natal, prizes will be given to truck drivers who can keep up with King Goodwill Zwelithini as he races between five star hotels and his palaces. In a gesture of, er, goodwill, the king has agreed to forfeit his regular blue lights, sirens and escorts. Instead, he will travel by helicopter. The first driver who beats the king to his secret destination will be taken away and questioned.
The Free State transport department will place koeksusters and nips of brandy along the N1. The first 500 truck drivers to make their way out of the province will be given assistance in emigrating. This is open to white truck drivers only. Black truck drivers can continue doing whatever they like.
And in the Western Cape, Her Royal Highness, Helen Zille, has decreed that the Sea Point promenade shall be opened to cyclists, skateboarders, rollerbladers and other assorted riff-raff.
Previously, use of the promenade was restricted to wheelchairs, walkers, pram-pushers and drug-pushers who may well be on wheels judging by the speed at which they disappear on the rare occasion a policeman hoves into sight. Maybe that’s just how the Nigerians roll.
Brett Herron, the mayoral committee member for transport, roads and stormwater (in terms of incongruity, a poor second to Durban’s parks, recreation and cemeteries), said the move is part of the city’s efforts to “build an inclusive city”. Luckily, this excludes those who might otherwise spoil the whole inclusivity vibe for the rest of us. In other words, those who cannot afford a square meal, let alone a skateboard. And even if they could, they are so full of TB and tik that they wouldn’t make it to the edge of the Cape Flats, let alone all the way to Sea Point.
You’re not a proper Capetonian unless you use a bicycle like you use your drugs – for recreational purposes only. A drug stops being recreational when the gentleman to your left stabs you in the face because you didn’t leave any for him. This hardly ever happens in Constantia.
Releasing a statement into the wild, Herron said: “We will be monitoring the situation very closely during the trial phase. However, I am confident that the experience will allow us to overcome some of our misperceptions and prejudices around users of alternative transport methods, also known as Active Mobility.” What? This is how lawyers talk. I am astounded by the … oh, he is a lawyer.
Herron assures us that this revolutionary step, taking the DA ever closer to governing the country, has the full backing of the Sea Point Residents’ Association. Without their approval, nothing but the sun goes down in Sea Point. The accountants, attorneys, stockbrokers, human traffickers, crack whores, pimps and paedophiles are hostage to the whims of the association. Mossad takes instructions from them. They have access to an arsenal of weapons ranging from fragmentation bagels to self-detonating seagulls. I’m serious. You trifle with the Sea Point Residents’ Association at your peril.
Herron points out that this is not an invitation to professional cyclists. That’s where he is wrong. If you’re training for the Tour de France on the Sea Point promenade, then you’re doing the wrong kind of drugs and deserve to be there. Anyway, I’d far rather they were on the prom than clogging up Chapman’s Peak or inciting the Camps Bay rent boys with their shrieking Spandex shorts and ululating calf muscles.
Herron also says skateboarding tricks will be frowned upon. So, kids, no turning pensioners into frogs. The same goes for rollerblades. They are to be used for “leisurely transportation purposes”. The DA simply cannot bring itself to use the f-word. Fun. And a good thing it is, too. Fun leads to early pregnancies, school dropouts, higher unemployment, service delivery protests, famine, madness and death. Somalia used to be a fun place. Look at it today.
Herron says: “We have consulted local representatives for the various types of non-motorised transport, who have offered to launch Twitter and Facebook campaigns to remind their members of the basic rules of etiquette expected from Active Mobility users on the promenade.”
Translation: “We made a skyf with a couple of okes with dreads and they said they’d hit the web and choon their chommies to chill on the strip.”
I do so enjoy it when white politicians talk of the basic rules of etiquette. It reminds me of Kenya before the Mau Mau came along and ruined everything. We all need distractions from the murder and mayhem of everyday life, and it matters not whether it comes from the Fish Hoek Bowls Club or a gentle non-threatening perambulation along the Sea Point prom of a Sunday afternoon.
Herron also said that flooding the area with cyclists, skateboarders and rollerbladers would “have a slowing down effect on the general speed of traffic”. Indeed it would. The city has already tried traffic lights, pedestrian crossings, bergies and speed bumps. So why not try Active Mobility practitioners? Nothing discourages speeding more than a stream of ambulances racing back and forth between Mouille Point and Bantry Bay.
The new signs going up on the promenade depict three figures engaged in Active Mobility. All of them, apart from cycling, are known as gateway pastimes that lead to far more dangerous activities like unprotected sex, intravenous drug use and voting.
I congratulate the DA on taking this courageous step. And, when Transport Month is over and the wreckage has been removed, I will applaud them for returning the promenade to its rightful owners – decent god-fearing folk who seem harmless enough but who, if provoked, will not hesitate to call in an Israeli airstrike at the push of a panic button.