No Customer Centric approach in service delivery

I drive on a section of the N14 freeway where the road is being widened. While we appreciate this as citizens, I really have a big issue with the approach. In addition, the closure of the M2 for the foreseeable future has added more thoughts and frustration to the situation. With so many economically active people stationary in traffic unnecessarily – I would love to know what the financial and productivity impact is to the economy.

Here’s a picture of N14 traffic, and impatient drivers driving illegally from EWN.

I am also extremely distressed with the ENCA article titled “Expect gridlock on Johannesburg roads“. There seems to be just an attitude of acceptance for something that is a silly, unacceptable situation.

Here are my issues:

  1. It has taken over a year to widen the road. This is too long.
  2. The contractor is working on a single lane at a time.
  3. The contractor seems to begin working from the Krugersdorp – where there is less traffic, towards Centurion – where there is more traffic.
  4. The contractor is doing a single task at a time, not looking to achieve a good level of efficiency – through doing more at a time.
  5. The merging of many lanes into two lanes, where more than two lanes can clearly be opened, causes kilometres of delays.
  6. Economically active South Africans who bear the frustration of needless traffic delays, are the ones that are moving the economy. Clearly, this is not being thought of.
  7. In the afternoon, the N14 has many groups of pedestrians standing on the road and hitchhiking for lifts from private drivers. (While I feel a deep sense of empathy for people who have the transport struggle, this is both illegal and the cause of a daily 20-30 minute delay. This situation should have been stopped months ago.)
  8. Due to the insanity of the above, drivers become impatient and start creating additional lanes where none exist, or driving on the barrier where they shouldn’t. Later, they need to merge anyway, so this just creates more delays.

Here is the root of the issues:

  1. Neither the government, nor the contractor understand the principle of customer experience.
  2. Neither the government, nor the contractor understand their role is to get people moving, not to create parking lots on the freeways.
  3. The contractor is likely managing the contract around some sort of payment schedule, so doesn’t want to complete any section of the road, so that there is leverage to bargain with the government on.
  4. Neither the government, nor the contractor are using much common sense around the project execution and people movement. The only consideration is likely “The project plan”.
  5. The government is weak at doing appropriate / relevant communication campaigns – such as pedestrians on a freeway.
  6. The government is weak at enforcing regulation and laws.

Here are my suggestions:

  1. It would be better to work across the road metre-by-metre, so that it gets completed and traffic can move. Working on the entire 30km stretch and reducing traffic to two lanes only benefits the contractor, and is counter-productive to economic activity.
  2. Road contractors should work at night and shorten the project duration.
  3. Road contractors should open more lanes during peak times.
  4. Complete the road at Centurion first – the traffic is heavies there, and work towards Krugersdorp – where traffic is lighter.
  5. Pant the damn lines and open the road on the sections where the road is obviously complete.

Government, their agencies and regulatory bodies need to start to understand the principle of customer experience, and what their role is in creating an environment where life and accessibility are improved for citizens.

Right now, they are doing the opposite.