Transports in South Africa


You can choose from different means of transport if you wish to travel around South Africa, whether by rail, by air or by land.

South Africa has put considerable effort into improving its transport network in the last few decades, and the country now has a well-developed and reliable road, rail and air infrastructure. Its rail and air networks are the biggest in the African continent, and the roads are also maintained to a high standard. The government has openly highlighted the importance of transport in South Africa's growth in global markets, including tourism, and transportation is often seen as crucial for suitable social development and economic growth in the country as a whole. The government has also made it clear that in the future it will spend billions in order to improve roads, airports and railways.


There are about 750,000km of roads in South Africa, with thousands of miles covering the trip between Musina and Cape Town. Road building is in the hands of the National Roads Agency, also known as Sanral, in addition to local governments and the provinces. This means that there are many bodies who have to co-ordinate in order to ensure that the roads are properly maintained. Sanral tends to look after the national road connections, while city and provincial governments look after the more rural roads.

Expats living in South Africa should be aware that about 20% of South African roads have tolls attached to them, particularly national roads, although there are also private companies who control booths on behalf of local and national governments. Part of these tolls will be spent trying to improve the national roads, including connecting up rail and bus networks in order to enhance South Africa's transportation system. In addition to the large number of private cars which use the road, many South Africans also use taxis as a standard method of transport, and the government intends to improve these vehicles through legislated safety standards and the scrapping of unsafe taxis.


South Africa also has an interest in improving the airports in the country, estimated to carry more than 95% of the commercial and tourist traffic, with 10 million passengers coming to and from the country every year. In preparation for the World Cup, improvements were made to Cape Town International airport, the OR Tambo airport in Johannesburg, and a new airport in Durban, King Shaka International. The airlines using these airports include South African Airways, the largest airline in Africa.


Expats moving to South Africa may want to travel across the country by train, a way of seeing the scenery and travelling to locations without international airports. South Africa supports a large airline, with networks connecting to other areas in Africa, including the sub-Saharan area. More than 2 million people use the trains every day, including Metro links in Cape Town, Pretoria and Johannesburg. There are several projects to improve the railways, although the infrastructure already totals more than 80% of the African continent's infrastructure. Expats can take the time to travel on the Blue Train, an expensive luxury train, or they can try the Gautrain, the only high-speed train in Africa.

 Useful links:

Department of Transport
South Africa Info
South African Airlines

ImmigrationSouthAfrica Serial expat
Member since 14 August 2010
Cape Town, South Africa
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