Stakeholders, including African Governments, city planners and the private sector operators, must redouble their efforts at rationalising policies that would trigger investments in green rail transportation.
This would facilitate decongestion of traffic on the continent’s cities roads, Kevin Pillay, Vice President of Siemens Africa, in-charge of Infrastructure and Cities has recommended.
Apart from being cost effective, user-friendly, more reliable and efficient, the emissions green rail are not harmful to the environment due to the vast application of green technology.
Speaking to the Ghana News Agency on the sidelines of the 17 the just-ended Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Durban, Pillay called for conscious planning, consultation and investment in rail transportation towards solving the growing urban population and the search for easy, safe and attractive public transport system.
“Cities would not function properly if conscious and integrated mobility solutions are not made part of the development strategies to enhance infrastructural investments for rail transport for the sustainability of African cities,” Pillay said.
“Cities with gridlock are ones that lose billions of dollars’ worth of productivity in transit over the course of one year.”
Meanwhile, congestion reduction measures such as car-pooling laws, no-car days or toll roads are mostly missing in major cities in Africa with the highly adopted park-and-ride schemes not adding value.
Studies have shown that on average 15 African Index cities have 2.7 kilometres of public transport per square kilometres with an average of 0.07 km of superior transport networks defined as metros, trams or bus rapid transit lines.
This feature is, however, shorter than in the Latin America’s index at 0.1 km per square km and Asia’s at 0.2 km.
Egypt has embarked on measures to address transport inadequacies through investments and new policies, committing 3.7 billion dollars to expand its two east-west rail lines to complement the existing north-south line, which is estimated to increase passenger traffic to 4.5 million from the current 2.5 million.
Additionally, the Egyptian Government is pursuing an agenda to replace 50,000 cabbies, more than 20 years-old and succeeded in replacing 20,000 of such cars by 2009, in line with a Carbon Finance Vehicle Scrapping and Recycling Programme, which is geared towards carbon emission reduction.
An urban transport expert in Accra, Magnus Quarshie, called for a paradigm shift to rail development because the strategies of widening the road network was rather a short-term measure.
Adopting smarter approaches, he said, such as the laying of modern rail infrastructure for transportation, goods and services was a more sustainable way-forward.
According to him, adopting the Sydney Coordinated Actuated Traffic System (SCATS) into the city’s traffic system was a modern technology for redirecting traffic and stemming congestion.
Explaining the SCATS, he said the system uses traffic cameras or induction loops, which could be installed within road pavements to count traffic at each intersection and also adapts the timing of traffic signals in the network through centralised-data centre, could be a panacea.
He identified the 37-Madina route, Kaneshie-Mallam Junction, Sakumono-Teshie, Accra-Kasoa and Achimota-Ofankor stretch as the usual congested routes in Accra.
Also, he said, the fleet on roads in Kumasi, the second largest city in Ghana, had risen more than four-folds in the last decade recording 130,796 and 41,278 vehicles in 2006 and 1996 respectively, according to data from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Resources and Climate Change Unit.
Deputy Minister of Transport, Mrs DzifaAttivor, pledged the Government’s commitment to building a first class high-speed rail system, saying a master plan for the entire country was being redesigned.
She said a loan facility from China is expected for the expansion programme anticipated to commence early next year.