Useless Government Ministers, Part 3074

After this, I also need to share this.

There was a horrific crash involving a truck (illegally overtaking on a solid white line) and a school bus in Pongola in KZN on Friday which resulted in 21 primary school kids being killed.

In any civilised country, this would be headline news for weeks and weeks. But that’s not us.

And then yesterday, there was this, just down the road from that same site. A truck crash (on the left), followed by another truck crash (you’ll see it):

Fortunately and amazingly, it seems that no-one was killed in this incident.

But suddenly, with this incredible video going viral, our transport minister – the self-styled “Mr Fix” ? – has noticed that two things have happened involving trucks and has worked out that there must surely be a better way of moving things from one place to another:

I think we can probably assume that “tiad” is “road”, and “ill” is “I’ll”. There’s a full stop needed in there, as well.

We might mock, but this is exactly the sort of direction that a new transport minister should be taking, getting South Africa’s underfunded, underutilised, much vandalised and crumbling rail network back to doing its job.

The problem here is this: Mbalula has been transport minister for 3½ years now. He’s overseen the demise and looting of the entirety of the SA rail system on his watch with hardly a peep, but now when he sees a chance to get some cheap fame and relevance, he suddenly comes up with a poorly-written, pre-morning coffee tweet with a promise (which he may or may not keep) of delivering a plan.
The chances of any follow through on that plan are non-existent, but by that time, the fuss will have died down and there will be no (personal) consequences for his continued inaction.

We shouldn’t be surprised.
He was useless as sports minister, and he was useless as police minister as well…

“I’ll take ‘Things that didn’t happen’ for 200 please, Alex.”

…so I’m not quite sure what we were expecting.

Anyway. Don’t be fooled by his 15 word statement on his amazing idea and faithful promise this morning.

Nothing – aside from more deaths because of trucks on the road – will happen. Again.

(Please also note that we will see images and footage of numerous truck crashes over the next week or so. It’s not a new thing. These were always happening, it’s just that the media will decide to take note of each and every one of them for a little while before normal service resumes and they keep happening, but no-one cares.)

Metros of the world

I like this. It’s one of those Neil Freeman data visualisations. Here are the 140 “high capacity, grade-separated heavy rail” systems (city metros) of the world, all neatly put together on one handy image, from sprawling Shanghai:


to little Lausanne:


Worst. Metro. Ever.
Looks like an unravelled Ebola virus.

And once they’re all listed in order, it looks something like this:


That top line features Shanghai, Seoul, Beijing, London, New York.

You can find out more details and even buy the poster for your subway-themed office wall here.

Amsterdam Transport Photos

Sometimes, you’re looking for something to post and then two things come along at once. Maximum irony would be if that were something to do with London Transport Photos, of course, but that didn’t happen.

However, just as I was about to run with these spectacular images of the Tall Ships arriving for the Sail Amsterdam 2015 nautical festival – and I probably would already have written and run were it not for the difficulty in choosing which photo to use, because they are incredible (I’ve deliberately left this one of Russian ship Kruzenshtern as large as I can, but you can click it for even more effect) (and this was my second choice, by the way)…

The Russian ship Kruzenshtern arrives in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015, to participate in SAIL Amsterdam 2015, a five-yearly festival celebrating the Dutch capital’s maritime history that is expected to draw some 2 million visitors. The 9th edition of the nautical event lasts until Sunday, Aug. 23 on and around the IJ river. (AP Photo/Phil Nijhuis)

…anyway, that would have been great, but just as I was about to put the post up, I became aware of this equally splendid image:


(again, click it to see the full size version)

…of an Emirates A380 (probably EK147) landing on Schipol’s 36R runway in a crosswind. Blimey.

And I was struck by the double tenuous link of ‘Amsterdam’ and ‘Transport’.
What are the chances, eh?

The rest, as they say, is history.

How to get there

Incoming from regular commenter, Reflex:

You have probably heard this already, but saw it online and thought about you.
Duran Duran have rushed out to record a new song for the World Cup.
The lyrics go: “His name is Rio and he is watching from the stands”.
Quick question, how are you getting to the matches you have booked for?

Firstly, it’s quite funny and I hadn’t heard it, although I have since been sent it 189 times.
Secondly, it scares me that people who have never met me still think of me when they see an unbelievably corny joke.
And thirdly, that’s a damn good question.

When large number people attend a sporting event, there is bound to be some sort of congestion. Those die-hard eggchasers who attended the Rugby Festival back in February and then whined about the traffic obviously have rather selective amnesia when it comes to these things. The last game I went to at Newlands was characterised by some of the worst traffic I have ever seen in the surrounding areas. Matches at Newlands, Bramall Lane, Wembley, Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, St James’ Park – wherever – all attract lots of people and you can expect somewhat chaotic scenes before and after the games.
An extra bit of spice to be considered when looking at Cape Town Stadium is that on one side is the South Atlantic and on the other is a fairly large mountain. Both of which effectively rule out any approach from those directions.

This leaves two possible angles: drive around the Atlantic Seaboard route and park in Sea Point or the more-popular approach from the city centre. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. The coastal route will be much less utilised and should therefore be the obvious choice. However, if something goes wrong there – one breakdown, one accident – it’s game over. It’s a very thin, winding road around the coast and there are no second chances. In short, it’s the high risk/high reward route. And I can’t take risks on World Cup games.

The City Centre approach has a much better chance of success, but will be stupidly busy. Getting anywhere within walking distance of the stadium and parking a car will be nigh on impossible. And that’s what the organisers want, because they want you to use public transport. But there are issues there too.
I have no problem with using the Park and Ride to the stadium from the CBD. But that still means that I have to get to the Park and Ride car park in the CBD in the first place. If the roads into the CBD are congested – and they will be – then that’s not going to be easy.
I could take the Park and Ride bus from UCT, but that’s got to also get to the CBD along those same congested roads. And the vehicle I would perhaps least want to be in when stuck in heavy traffic is a bus. Especially one driven by someone who doesn’t have any personal interest in getting to the stadium before kick off.
And that leaves me with the train, which seems like a sensible choice except for the risk generated by their rather unreliable nature. And remember that I said I can’t take risks with World Cup games.

In short, I’m a bit stuck. I thought I’d formulated a brilliant plan, but then I read about the no fly zone over the stadium during the World Cup and anyway, I was short of one helicopter. Teleportation hasn’t been invented yet and neither has time travel, using which, I could have popped down to the pub in Green Point on Wednesday and then fast-forwarded 48 hours. However, the spin off of the time travel plan was the pub plan, wherein I popped down to the pub in Green Point on Wednesday and then drank for 48 hours.

This pub plan still seems like the most viable option at present.

All of the more sensible options discussed above are summed up in the Cape Town City Getting Around Guide.

Hang on a minute!

Cape Town‘s Integrated Rapid Transport Strategy has hit another snag ahead of the World Cup next year:
Fare dodgers.

Apparently this guy got on without paying a cent.
Fortunately, the police were quickly on the scene to arrest him.


This one has been doing the rounds here for the past couple of days, but I think it’s only fair to share it with my overseas readers as well. As we say here in Africa: Only in Africa!