'Though inconvenient, EcoMobility Month is necessary'

Streets in and around the Sandton CBD will be closed or reduced to single lanes during October.

Thousands of people took part in the official opening of the EcoMobility in Sandton on 4 October 2015. Picture: Mia Lindeque/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Gauteng Premier David Makhura says he understands completely why motorists making their way into the Sandton CBD may be irritated with the heavy traffic due to the EcoMobility Festival, which comes into effect today.

The festival was officially launched during a parade from Sandton to Alexandra on Sunday.

Several roads in and around the city have been closed to motorists, to encourage citizens to rather walk, cycle and use public transport.

Over 100,000 people travel through Sandton every day, with more than 75,000 vehicles driving into the city in the mornings, making it one of the most congested growing city centres in the world.

Makhura will trade in his vehicle for a the Gautrain and a bus trip to work this morning, saying politicians need to lead by example this month.

Testing out a segway during the festival launch on Sunday, the premier said the initiative was absolutely necessary, although it may be inconvenient.

"For the sake of future generations, for our environment, [we must] take drastic steps though quite uncomfortable."

WATCH: EWN takes you through the streets of Sandton to help you understand how the campaign will affect you.

Transport Minister Dipuo Peters says it's time motorists realise walking is not only for the poor.

"There are people who would love to have legs, so let us make sure that those of us who still have our legs are able to do that."

Makhura says government needs to change its planning when building cities and towns, to make it's easier to walk and cycle.

MAP: Where will public transport stop in Sandton.

Makhura says if he gets his way, the EcoMobility Festival will not only be a once off event, but the beginning of the transformation of the country's transport culture.

"The challenge is to expand this infrastructure and public transport infrastructure as rapidly as possible."

Peters has encouraged motorists to change their routines.

"Walking is cool, cycling is cool. Let us make it possible to stay healthy."

The premier says in the early 80s he had no option and had to walk from Alexandra to Sandton.

Various exhibitors will showcase their EcoMobility vehicles this morning.


Speaking to several people on one of the Gautrain buses from Monte Casino to Sandton, it seems the City of Johannesburg's plea has led to some commuters leaving their cars at home.

While it's too early to assess the impact of the EcoMobility Festival, the driver of one bus says he's noticed a higher passenger numbers today, with some people having to stand because all of the seats have been occupied.

Several passengers who usually drive into Sandton say while the experience of taking the bus was good today, they're yet to decide if they'll continue taking public transport once EcoMobility Month is over.

Motorists driving into the Sandton CBD this morning have been urged to help change the country's transport culture and create a safer environment.

Johannesburg Mayor Parks Tau says the festival is also about climate change consciousness.

"This is a prerequisite to an investment that we made. It's about creating a consciousness about our collective responsibility towards climate change. The message is, you are not stuck in traffic, you are the traffic."

Find out more in the _ Eyewitness News _ special feature on the EcoMobility Festival.