Spacial Disadvantage and What That Means For Johannesburg

There are a lot of people in South Africa upset about various topics. Language, fees, the president, you name it. But there are more important, underlying issues that need attention. This isn't a call for anything to fall. This is a call for people to see the facts and realise that if we don't get started building toward our future soon, we'll remain a nation that is "somewhere in Africa" and not a global force in the world, not a country with global appeal.


In Johannesburg there are three main townships designed by the apartheid planners (who were extremely good at what they did, even though what they did was bad). Their goal was to separate Johannesburg's population by race/class, and they were extremely effective at doing it!

So, we have Soweto (behind a mine dump that is currently being taken away, which is an exciting prospect), Tembisa and Katlehong.

Together, these three townships house just over 2 million of Gauteng's population - 71% of which are of working age.

Straight21 did an unofficial, hypothetical study, and drew some scary conclusions regarding our progress as a nation.

To start, we looked at Johannesburg as a factory - a place where people wake up in the morning to produce. Productivity the key, everyone working toward the common goal of societal progression and economic growth.

The most important ingredient here? Time - the ultimate non-renewable resource. Being of the view that time equals money, we studied how apartheid planning could hypothetically be stifling our economy on a day to day basis and make the "factory" which is Johannesburg a whole lot leaner and more productive. Have a look at the diagrams below.

Diagram 1 - The average peak-hour time traveling by taxi. Township - Inner City.


 Now break down the hypothetical amount of people of working age in each area.

Diagram 2 - Potential Working Population Per Township

Now let's look at how much time is wasted by waiting or traveling per day, week and year. See a breakdown of the average day per person below.

Do you see that? Over 7 million (wo)man-hours per day are spent traveling or waiting for transport, and that is just people based in apartheid planned townships. Imagine how much more productive our society can be, how much brighter South Africa could shine if we put those potential hours toward productivity and progress, or even just spent building strong family relationships.

This is an issue that gets overlooked, it's like waiting and wasting time in cars or taxis is just part of our reality that we've accepted - why? What are we going to do about it? Protesting won't work, you'll just be wasting more time. We need a radical approach, a total transformation of transportation in Johannesburg - beyond an extra lane on the highway, beyond a corridor of "freedom."