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The government should seriously consider building more infrastructure for people to walk and cycle rather than make roads for cars.

This is the key message that emerged at the symposium on air quality and climate change impact from transport sector held this week at the Melrose Arch.

As part of the 2019 Transport Month celebrations, the City of Johannesburg in partnership with Deutsche Gesellshaaft fϋr International Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH hosted a symposium on air quality and climate change impact from transport sector, under the theme “Reducing fossil fuel emissions as we transition towards a low carbon transport in CoJ”.

The symposium was aimed at galvanising internal and external stakeholders into a conversation that unpack the environmental impact of the transport sector and to identify opportunities and interventions that contribute to the reduction of carbon emissions and air pollutants from the sector. 

Setting the scene, Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) for Transport in the City of Johannesburg Cllr Nonhlanhla Makhuba said that although she is not an expert on air quality and climate change, she acknowledged that the transport sector is one of the biggest contributors to carbon emissions.

“We are working towards changing this by procuring cleaner, more environmentally friendly buses both at Rea Vaya and Metrobus but there is still more that we can do. It is partnerships such as these that enable us to make the change that we want to see and feel in our beautiful City. We need to identify opportunities and interventions that contribute towards the reduction of carbon emissions. 

“I call upon the middle class to use public transport systems such as Metrobus and Rea Vaya bus rapid transit system more to ease congestion on the roads and alleviate greenhouse gas emissions,” said MMC Makhuba.

MMC for Environment and Infrastructure Services Cllr Nico de Jager challenged Joburg residents to make walking, cycling and public transport the preferred modes of mobility in the City.

He said there was a significant paradigm shift towards non-motorised transport as demonstrated by the City of Johannesburg’s leadership in policy formulation and implementation.

“The improvement of air quality and climate change mitigation and adaptation will have a positive return on the health and wellbeing of city residents. The overall purpose is to highlight the city’s policy and strategy shift towards ensuring sustainable transportation through creation of awareness among internal and external stakeholders,” concluded MMC De Jager.

The symposium acknowledges sector contribution to poor air quality and climate change as a result of increased reliance on privately owned vehicles for commuting purposes within the City.