Living in Johannesburg?
Health & Transport in Johannesburg
Johannesburg offers a fairly wide range of healthcare facilities fit to take care of any illness expats and residents may have. A total of 81 fixed and satellite day clinics are the city’s pillars of basic primary healthcare, with about a dozen major hospitals taking care of serious illnesses. A list of public hospitals and major clinics can be seen on the official page of the City of Johannesburg, they also provide a list of private hospitals.
The availability of healthcare facilities is rather good, albeit possibly below the standards you may be used to depending on your home country. However, we strongly advise you to either buy comprehensive health insurance with coverage in South Africa prior to your relocation, or to discuss a group or company healthcare benefit package with your employer in Johannesburg, as there is currently no national health plan.
The Most Common Health Issues
Apart from the widespread prevalence of tuberculosis and the issues arising from the lack of access to safe drinking water in poorer areas, HIV and Aids are still the direst health problems Johannesburg and the entire nation faces.
One of the city administration’s main goals for the future, and one which has already been achieved in part, is the implementation of widespread access to basic healthcare services. Among other improvements the city administration hopes to raise awareness on HIV/AIDS. Due to the prevalence if the HI-virus, you should be sure to adhere to the usual precautionary measures at all times and under all circumstances.
The Improved Public Transportation System
There are two main bus services in Johannesburg: Rea Vaya and Metrobus. Rea Vaya offers a rapid bus transit system on multiple routes, mainly aiming to offer improved connections between Soweto and the Central Business District. A full list of routes as well as the company’s future plans for expansion of its network can be seen on the Rea Vaya homepage. Similarly, Metrobus offers a wide range of routes mostly starting from within the inner city. A complete overview of connections and timetables for the Metrobus service can be found on their website.
Apart from these two bus services, the other main public transportation service is the Gautrain, linking Johannesburg with neighboring Pretoria and the OR Tambo International Airport. The popularity and success of the existing stops of the rapid railway service, which include important suburbs such as Midrand and Sandton, has paved the way for a future expansion of the network, which should further improve the situation on Johannesburg’s streets and surrounding speedways.
Another mode of transportation to consider is the informal minibus taxi. The services of the minibus taxis are commonly used among the general population — mostly due to lack of alternatives — and play an important part in everyday life. Using the minibus taxi can be a rather daunting affair as drivers often break trafficking rules, stopping and starting abruptly as they pick up passengers. The minibuses have no regulated routes, and passengers are picked up by indicating with hand signals where they want to go. Although a cheap and efficient way of getting around, this mode of transport must be mentioned with caution. For those who want to experience and get to know Johannesburg in its many facets, it is, however, a great insight into daily life.
Making Your Way through the Crazy Traffic
Famously, almost every major road in South Africa leads to Johannesburg. Combined with the massive urban sprawl of the city and its immense population, this does not make for pleasant car journeys. Congestion is, probably to no one’s surprise, a very large problem, and one that has only been tackled recently. Even with an interconnected network of multi-lane freeways, clogging is the norm. The absence of a body of water in or near the city obviously severely limits the options for transportation of goods to and from Johannesburg, which further exacerbates the traffic situation.
The Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project, which is currently being implemented, plans to solve this dire congestion situation. However, the project is currently not looking like a quick fix solution, with the Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) estimating that the work should be completed by 2037. This means there is a good chance that you will be spending a fair amount of time in your car during your time as an expat in Johannesburg.
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