Public transport is the lifeblood of any country and more so in a developing country where private vehicle ownership is still relatively low by western standards.
In the then Bophuthatswana a large proportion of the economically active population had to travel long distances to reach their places of employment, and rural people had to travel a fair distance to buy their provisions.
Government policy dictated that private enterprise should be responsible for the country’s transport, thus allowing small bus companies to perform this task. Larger companies were allowed to operate when the smaller companies could not meet consumer demands.
Bophuthatswana Transport Holdings operated 10 bus depots with 825 buses. Altogether 22 companies operated in the country – some with a single bus.
The Department of Transport was mainly regulatory to protect public interest by regulating vehicle and driver safety, fares and tariffs.
The continued development of the country depended on rural roads, and for this reason government focussed on road construction and good maintenance which were vital components of infrastuctural development.
Some of the outstanding road works completed have been associated with the Sun International hotels at Pilanesberg and Thaba ‘Nchu, which were important sources of government revenue and popular tourist attractions for the adjacent games parks.
Other important tarred routes were:
- The Mangope highway between Ga-Rankuwa and Mabopane;
- The Kudube to Makapanstad highway;
- The Mabopane to Winterveldt road;
- The Soutpan to Swartdam road;
- The Klipgat sewerage works;
- The Sun City to Mogwase road;
- The Matooster to Bierkraal road;
- The eastern and northern bypasses of Mmabatho;
- Shiela to Goedgevonden via Gelukspan hospital;
- Matooster to Mabieskraal;
- Matooster to Bierkraal;
- The Mmabatho to Bethel road;
- Vryhof to Makouspan;
- Makouspan to Itsoseng road;
- Zeerust to Lobatse;
- Lehurustshe to Borakalalo;
- Mebran to Klipvoor dam;
- The Sweethome road on the Kuruman/Vryburg route past Mothibistad up to Motlhware;
Barokalo to Swartkopfontein;
- The provincial road between Bloemfontein and Maseru had been resealed – including the portion through Bophuthatswana; and
- Dinokana to Matlase.
From a one-man, single-engine charter operation to a fully fledged scheduled carrier operating sophisticated prop jet aircraft in seven years sums up the meteoric rise of the country’s national airline, BopAir.
This had been achieved to a large extent by the foresight of the country’s president, Kgosi Lucas Manyane Mangope, who recognised the need for
a sophisticated air transportation system in a dynamic and progressive economy.
The Mmabatho International Airport, from which wide-bodied jet aircraft could fly directly to Europe, was officially opened in June 1984.