by Thabo Owen Mokwena

Publisher's note

Transport is key to human capital development

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Every quarter of the year or so, I head west to Europe and the United States sparingly. I also conduct visits to the East from time to time. Throughout this quarterly trip, never has it crossed my mind to plan for local transport at my destinations nor to bother myself to even contemplate hiring a car. I got accustomed to effective public transport systems that link me from one point to the other. Even on my honeymoon, we relied on public transport in the various locations of the Greek islands, Italian cities and Venice. This demonstrates the level of confidence and comfort one places on the public transport system for both business and pleasure.

Lest we avoid the “abuse of words”, as warned by John Locke when he proclaimed, “whether a bat be a bird or no, is not a question”. The emphasis on transportation as the key to human capital, it is an idea that has meaning and is rooted in the strategic centre of both the discourse and the reality of life. Vital to this logic is the appreciation that transport is a key instrument for improving the living standards of humans, among others, in terms of income levels, access to health, education infrastructure, etc.

For effective trade and job creation to take place between the city centres and the country’s rural areas, transport is the key interlocker that makes it happen. This applies to both public passenger transport and the commercial cargo transport. Adam Smith argued this point: “The greatest and most important branch of the commerce for every nation, it has been already been observed, is that which is carried on between the inhabitants of the town and those of the country. The inhabitants of the town draw from the country the rude produce which constitutes both the materials of their work and the fund of the subsistence.”

As we enter Transport Month in October, we must refocus our energies on a transport strategy that addresses the quality of transport infrastructure to support the level of economic development required. When transport systems are efficient, they provide economic and social opportunities and benefits that result in positive multiplier effects such as better accessibility to markets, employment and additional investments. When transport systems are deficient in terms of capacity or reliability, they can have an economic cost such as reduced or missed opportunities and a lower quality of life

 

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