Transportation, logistics and national security

There’s always a national security structure associated with transportation and logistics infrastructure. National security is derived from a propensity to distribute defense and attack formations in a rapid, consistent and secure manner. This act alone requires efficient logistics systems across infrastructures and transit units. It also involves a high degree of digital privacy, security, encryption and speed to collect and process complex modern societies. Transportation and logistics are essentially at the core of a sustainable existence at scale.

While the conversation with Ron Derby on POWERFM this week focused on the relationship between our Passenger Rail Agency South Africa and the South African Road Agency Limited, it’s absolutely crucial to reflect on national security and market access. There are a few blogs from some time ago which highlight, for instance important trade-offs within the freeway investment space and ring-fencing revenue for the public good. On the other hand, headlines float in the opposite direction highlights apparent transfers between state entities which are related in unexpected ways. But here’s what caught my attention: if countries need to be invaded, great transport infrastructure create deep vulnerabilities when not checked.

While on one hand it is important to have effective infrastructure and affordable services supported by crucial systems– national security needs some attention too. Whether it is a customs issue, or micro-terrors transport networks are important systems which facilitate the spread of complex opportunities for the good, the bad, and the ugly. Will South African cities wait for a Paris attack? Will shopping precincts wait for a confrontation with invisible extremists? From freight corridors to local mobility — all of it needs to be secured. Consider the attacks on freight trucks recently, or the tense protests which occupy public roadways as a space and place to be heard. Holding mobility and access hostage is an important way to voice one’s opinion in contemporary South Africa– but this doesn’t reflect a sense of “these are our assets”.

It is absolutely important for law enforcement to have deeper access to settlements and healthcare services could benefit from improved accessibility. Both of these public services could benefit from improved land uses, better infrastructure and intelligent systems– in addition to fewer cars. However more densities and high public transport use are concentrated hotspots for potential attacks that need to be prevented from the onset. A sense of safety and security is one of the prerequisites for great places, neighborhoods and towns– this does not come cheap.

That’s a national scale issue: but more locally, should public transport have a police force dedicated to it in passenger rail, bus and minibus services? International trends purport that it is more efficient to use general policing; but I’m keen to find out if it is commensurate effective. In the front line are the taxi association and the general public, if not contracted security companies. Is there a way to do better?

*Thank you for reading this rant.

3 thoughts on “Transportation, logistics and national security”

  1. I support public transportation having a police force dedicated to it but I’m curious on how it’s going to work. Will there be police officers traveling with passengers or on the subject of contracted security companies will civilian cameras be installed in these modes of transport?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is difficult to find a way around this, however, it is important to consider how correctional services, military and financial services have unique policing that reflect the nature of their industry. If it is contracted, it might be exposed to poor training and other issues. But since transport is a complex service beyond only passengers consider a broader perspective. What would make you feel safe? What would make you feel secure? — that’s a point of departure.


      1. Okay I hear you. What would make me feel safe is if surveillance cameras are installed in these modes of transport. Secondly if there are police officers traveling with passengers and surrounding train stations or bus ranks just like in airports where security guards surround the area.


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