Innovations in road management: our journey into the future

South African roads are a special challenge. There are long distances that need to be covered, not to mention the fact that we have extreme weather: periods of drought could be followed by sudden flash floods, freak snowfall or tornadoes. The designers and engineers in charge of constructing our roads have their work cut out for them. In this blog we take a look at some of the innovations that could shape road management.

Road management infrastructure that continues to support our people and industries

South Africa has a total road network of about  747 000 km and we have spent many billions of rands keeping our roads up to standard because our country relies on this infrastructure. There are challenges that we will need to face to make sure that our roads continue to support the country’s people and industries especially as the population is set to grow and become more urbanised.

Road travel continues to be the main means of transport for people all over the country; road and transport are extremely important as they allow people to travel to work and also to access social services. This government national policy white paper demonstrates that transport needs to be affordable for all people to meet basic accessibility requirements and this must be made a priority for transport planning. The main obstacle is that making a viable transport system will require addressing financial constraints. We need to develop infrastructure that will be able to expand with an ever increasing population. An accessible transport system is key to growing our economy and it is important to identify skills and technology needed to make this possible. We could do this by investing in the existing infrastructure: regulating the taxi industry and improving the bus system, for example. We could also consider investing in sustainable alternatives including electric buses or transport that is powered with solar energy.

Sustainable solutions in our future?

Globally, green solutions for road management are becoming more popular in the face of increased pollution and diminishing fossil fuels. In the transport industry worldwide there is more public transport, car pooling and encouragement to use bicycles and walking lanes. Many predict that there will be a shift to more sustainable energy including liquefied natural gas and hydrogen. There has already been a move towards hybrid vehicles. Recycled plastic has also been put forward as a material which can be used to repair roads.

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