Does changing narratives about transport and micro-retail inspire new stories?

Micro enteprises lined up facing on coming students, a turning taxi and the main gate.

This is an action note in response to the status quo in my area and the manner in which retail and transport industries are under inquiry for their competitive practices in SA.

I have a simple theory to test in November 2017 (fingers crossed):

Changing narratives inspire new stories.

I aim to apply it by questioning:

  • The interface between selfinformed micro retail, transport, public sector and education institutions.

This application might help formulate a new narrative:

Informality is a crude term for selfinformed organisational motifs.

A practical implication for such an interface might include:

Changing the stories roaming in the minds of ‘formal’ intervenors in transport, enteprise, teaching-learning and development planning.

Particular issues

This is Mmabatho, a major node in Mahikeng. It attracts regional and local trips through University activities, retail, private and public sector localities. It is also not as much of a student hub as it should be. Particularly due to the location of much of the retail and shopping being skewed to shopping complexes instead of streetways. Most of the recent developments actually stimulate activity and sub-divide the locations into sub-nodes (i.e. the North West University is a sub-node.)

Last-mile microcargo services in the form of Trolley Pushing is not recognised, or treated with appropriate engagement. These services are among the links between retail and transport.

A micro-retail complex adjacent to a bus stop and facing a minibus taxi-bay. Behind it is the regional archive a 100m away from the Provincial Department of Transport.

Learning from nation building questions about competition in retail and transport environments.

Lastly, the storyline learns from two enquiries by the Competition Commission of South Africa:

  • Retail industry competitive practices and their implications for micro-enteprises. The core question is about the impact of large retailers on small retailers in townships. They’re not accounting for the travel pattern costs and benefits from retail shopping travel trends.
  • Competitive practices in public passenger transport. The enquiry is an attempt to provide or receive a broad view of the transportation regulatory environment hopefully with an influence on the functions of the National Transport Economic Regulator. They are not asking about transport-land-use, retail and business development interactions.

Learning by unearthing context specific relationships in a practical and theoretical setting. This may perhaps inspire a much deeper sense of inquiry at a relational and actionable level. With a change in the cognitive narratives maybe there’s a new story to tell, in addition to the existing streams of discourse.

Thank you for reading.


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