A European Union (EU) initiative aimed at increasing road transport research cooperation between Europe and the emerging markets of Brazil, China, India, and South Africa continues to gain momentum with a two-day meeting of key partners and stakeholders kicking off in Pretoria today. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is coordinating the activities of the project, code-named SIMBA, in the South African region.
Funded by the EU Research Framework Programme, the SIMBA project has established a collaboration network of key stakeholders in the fields of intelligent transport systems (ITS), infrastructure and automotive development. According to the CSIR's Kobus Labuschagne, SIMBA project coordinator in South Africa, the Pretoria meeting, known as the South Africa National Event (SANE), aims to augment existing networks and define further those transport priorities identified at the SIMBA regional workshop held in December 2006.
“The project has reached a stage where we need to develop firm proposals and identify actions and processes in support of SIMBA's main objective, which is to increase road safety, mobility and transport efficiency through the exchange of technological know-how and best practices,” Labuschagne says.
South Africa's road transport priorities include issues such as the deterioration of road infrastructure, and improved mobility and road safety. The country's high accident rate, with approximately 498 000 traffic accidents, 46 500 serious injuries and 13 000 traffic fatalities occurring every year, remains one of the biggest challenges.
Labuschagne points out that the South African government has already put in place many innovative and far-reaching policies to address mobility, safety and infrastructure management, including the introduction of ITS to deal with the increasing congestion on South Africa's urban roads and improve public transport for the 2010 World Cup. “SIMBA is playing a valuable role in identifying additional urban traffic solutions for South Africa,” he says.
The Pretoria meeting will be attended by about 70 participants, including international delegates representing the European partners of the project. “We believe that the SIMBA SA National Event has the potential to bring about a fresh, collective local focus on transport research and development, and to set the scene for visionary science, engineering and technology development in this field,” Labuschagne says.
CSIR President and CEO, Dr Sibusiso Sibisi, will welcome delegates to the event, followed by keynote speakers Mmboneni Muofhe, manager of strategic partnerships at the Department of Science and Technology, and Luisa Prista of the European Commission (EC) research unit. A joint SA-EC statement on road transport research cooperation will be released this afternoon.
For more information on SIMBA, visit the project website at www.simbaproject.org