A number of chief executive officers of major companies across the City of Johannesburg on Thursday, 19 November 2015, have expressed their support for Ecomobility as a sustainable transport solution to decongest the city.
This was at a post EcoMobility World Festival 2015 Joburg CEO Dialogue Breakfast by Johannesburg Executive Mayor Parks Tau to engage on a way forward after the month-long event that saw some streets in the Sandton Central business district partially closed to private vehicles. Public transport use, car sharing, park & ride, as well as walking were prioritised throughout October in a bid to decongest Sandton, reduce carbon emissions and subsequently boost the health of the city’s economy.
Ernst & Young (EY) CEO Ajen Sita: “I must applaud the city for having been bold and brought us EcoMobility. The city did it.” “It was the first time that I saw and heard people inquire about public transport and routes. This was not only in Joburg, but the idea of EcoMobility spread all over the country. There were people as far as Cape Town and Durban that adopted EcoMobility,” he said.
Sita also outlined interventions his company has already implemented in support of EcoMobility. These included allowing staff to work from anywhere other than the office, flexible hours and a staff shuttle service to move around Sandton. “There were some concerns where people indicated that they wanted more pedestrian paths and safer road crossings. There was also some misinformation that Sandton was closed in October, but this is something that can be corrected with more awareness in future – and EY is a partner in the new journey (of EcoMobility) in Sandton and beyond,” he said.
“In the beginning there was a lot of anxiety. But it’s amazing how those who continued with their events as planned, in fact had successful events contrary to the 30% drop in success that was anticipated as a result of the EcoMobility month,” said Sandton Convention Centre Executive Director Mati Nyazema. She added: “On the negative was that retail business in the Nelson Mandela Square did not do well with sales. Apart from this, the public transport use was a great experience – I live in Fourways and enjoyed the express lane.”
“I wish to encourage the city not to allow people to forget about EcoMobility. All that is required is to keep communities informed about what it’s doing and people are likely to comply unlike when surprised as there is always an element of surprise when one comes to Sandton,” Nyazema said.
Adding to the congratulations to the City of Johannesburg for having successfully hosted the EcoMobility Festival under the leadership of Mayor Tau was Nedbank’s Thulani Sibeko, who said the financial services institution had successfully lobbied its employees to go ecomobile during October. “We applaud the city on its sustainability agenda and we are very keen to partner with it to move forward in this space,” Sibeko said. He further said: “The sustainability of EcoMobility is not only the responsibility of the city. As tenants in Sandton, there is a lot that we can do to reduce (congestion and carbon emissions).”
Among other big corporates that pledged ongoing support to the continuation of EcoMobility was Discovery and SAPOA.
Speaking on behalf of Mayor Tau, who could not attend the meeting due to ill-health was his spokesperson Phindile Chauke. “Mayor Tau welcomes the continued support given by various corporates to ensure that the EcoMobility World Festival was the success that it was and sustained were possible,” she said.
Chauke said the city is set to build on the lessons leant to consolidate a corporate engagement strategy for a sustainable Joburg. “It is the city’s intention to build on the goodwill of the private sector to enhance our sustainability agenda. The CEOs’ meeting was to engage with the private sector to establish a solid and structured partnership with the private sector. “This will broadly be anchored on the nexus between the Compact of Mayors as signed by Cities and UN Global Compact,” Chauke said.