Category: Transport Functions

251 Transport as a mode of expressing the constant emotive contributes to poor implementation


At some point the transit market takes a pause, this spells a reliable tone to how people need to get around.

For freight, it spells the pulse of transshipment investments rippling through macroeconomic indicators.

It’s this artificial distinction between the two service offerings that perpetuates significant ineffective offerings. At least this is an observation, anecdotal at the most.

In ordinary years, we’d see public transport drivers striking causing queues and crowded taxi ranks. Highways blocked as communities express their grievances through a network of problems as intact as the tar they torch with tires. Some majority’s needs are being sidelined, and this draws a dotted line in the quicksand.

Even so, we’ve seen overcrowded ports, borders and roads due to one or another red tape delaying the progress private sector desperately calls for. Yet, there is a parallel industry, pulling strings under the radar, converting covert conversations into inevitable headlines as trucks, trains and many others burn to death. A signature slogan in the South African transport market’s habitual politicization.

It is something we can expect lately. Anticipate non-compliance, chaos, friction in the power struggle. Each layer represents remnants of an unresolved conundrum, a the ineffective state, a missing link, that lost conversation. They encompass an unkept promise, or a misspecified problem.

What if it was different? What would different mean when the issues around devolution of transport functions between the United Kingdom, Ghana and South Africa face similar issues?

What would different mean if Lagos, Jakarta, Delhi, Johannesburg and Dar es Salaam ripple with the same jitney fever, culture, tone and practice? All of which have been under pressure for decades. Pressure to evaporate. Pressure to vanish. Pressure to turn into an important but imported policy prescription.

What would different mean if road freight operators express their grievances through protest in the United States, Brazil and South Africa? The free for all market facing a digital future, blockchain based supply chains, and regulatory reforms that change both labour and operating markets.

The commonalities compose an uncomfortable symphony— people, personalities and interests. The sooner we account for the propensity for vested interests, corruption and lost agendas due to a lack of continuity in short-term projects and few consistent long-term planning horizons, the better.

By being honest about jealousy, sabotage and toxic psychopathy in organisations, the more likely our conversations in the political and economic domains would begin to resonate with real experiences. I’m of the view that these experiences are implausible to divorce from culture dense contexts like in Africa, Asia, India, and South America.

Places where the puritan capitalist individual, self interested consumer, is mixed with a cocktail of historic injustices, insecurities and market distorting needs for validation.

Instead, we assume the rational ‘homoeconomicus’ as the active agent motivated by self-interest that within an organisation becomes a common interest. Neglecting the possibility that some outliers are common, others have significant influence.

Are there more givers, takers or matchers in African governments and organizations? That is a question for Adam Grant.

How has language affected the perceptions of implementation timelines in African governments and organizations? That is a question for Keith Chen.

Transport policy implementation takes this shape, it is the bottom end of the barrel, where more people are involved than in any of the other stages. Thus, an acute sensitivity to the narrative beneath the waves enables practitioners to feel the current beneath the surface. That is to truly sign the dotted lines, understand the crossroads, and see how they separate and connect.

However, assuming that the current is constant has in my observations been a latent driver for the lack of effective transport policy implementation. Worse, poor policy specification in the first place.

That is equivalent to deciding on a solution before the root causes of a problem are truly understood.

Thank you for reading.