Government eyes higher license fees and ‘road pricing’ to reduce car use in South Africa


The Department of Transport is considering several policy changes to encourage more environmentally friendly car use in South Africa.

The proposals are included in a revised white paper, released by the department last week, and include:

  • Stricter parking policies;
  • Access restrictions for private cars;
  • Higher license fees;
  • Road pricing or area permit.

Many of these proposals are already in place in parts of Europe, with countries like the UK charging more for travel within the city center and for the use of petrol-powered vehicles.

However, the Ministry of Transport noted that restrictions on the use of private cars will not be implemented independently of improvements in the quality of public transport.

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“Currently, little attention is paid to environmentally sustainable transport practices in transport policy. South Africa, in agreement with the developed world, will have to adapt its economic growth policies to the demands of environmentally sustainable development,” he said.

“Apart from any other consideration, this will be necessary to ensure continued survival in the global economy. Planning and implementation of an environmentally sustainable system is necessary in the transport sector.

He added that low-carbon transport modes should be prioritized in the design of transport systems in urban areas, while public transport should promote minimum international standards on environmental issues.

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“Design should be based on avoiding and reducing travel demand, switching to more economical and environmentally friendly high occupancy modes of transport and improving energy efficiency through measures technologies. Rail’s environmental friendliness should be leveraged and advanced in line with road freight strategy.

“The negative impact on biodiversity (including wetlands) and air quality should be reduced in the design, construction or operation of inter-urban and intra-urban transport systems and infrastructure, including highways, pipelines and railroads.”

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The department said it will also seek to encourage broader development changes, such as mixed-use developments to provide workplaces close to home.

It will also consider the designation of high-density development areas along transport corridors to make public transport feasible and accessible, while taking into account the potentially negative environmental and health impacts emanating from poor air quality associated with proximity of residential development with transport activity.

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