transport

CDC, the UK government-owned development finance institution, has invested $17m in the South African transport and logistics company Grindrod, backing the development of roads, railways and ports across sub-Saharan Africa that could boost the region’s competitiveness and create jobs.

The investment marks the start of a strategic partnership between Johannesburg-listed Grindrod and CDC, which says it has the appetite to invest over $100m through the alliance as and when suitable projects emerge. 

From Uber to GrabTaxi, the leading car-for-hire apps are finally coming to Jakarta, where they will find congested roads and congested mobile bandwidth but also a large market of tech-savvy consumers. 

Enough gloating about shutdowns, now. A Beijing environment officer has warned that if the city has three consecutive days of hazardous smog it will shut down schools, factories and construction sites. It will put curbs on driving and – sorry kids – ban fireworks.

The smog has already closed the schools and airport of Harbin, a northeastern city of 11m people. 

It was inevitable. Some 60 years ago began one of the largest migrations in history, when millions of people moved from the Latin American countryside and into cities. Then, some 10 years ago, began a consumer credit boom that saw car sales explode in the world’s most urbanised continent.

And today? To cope with the growing congestion of their megalopolises, Latin Americans are increasingly turning to bicycles to get around. Traffic jams are no longer a privilege of just the rich world. 

For four months every year, from June to September, it rains in Mumbai. The downpours don’t come as a surprise. It’s called the monsoon.

And yet every year, just as predictably, potholes are battered into our poorly maintained roads, costing lives as well as money. 

As vehicle ownership climbs, Deborah Bonello reports on the Mexican capital’s battle to curb car use. Activists such as the masked El Peatónito (Little Pedestrian) are pressing for a cultural shift and a radical improvement in public transport.

Bulgaria’s Danubeside city of Vidin has a somewhat forlorn air. The great grey river slinks slowly by a long waterfront of panel blocks gazing across the water to the forests of Romania. Among the cracked pavements, despoiled Communist monuments and boarded-up shops, there are, however, a few glimmers of a noble past: an old quarter with some charm, and the stout fortress of Baba Vida, which stands on ancient foundations. The fortress and the elegant gateway to the old city – the Stambul Kapiya, or Istanbul gate – remind the visitor that this was once an important centre in a European network of empire and trade. 

The railway system in India has fascinated and frustrated its users since Victorian times. Nowadays, the Delhi Metro is touted as a beacon of success in a nation that struggles badly to develop modern infrastructure. The FT’s Amy Kazmin examines whether other cities will be able to copy that success with their own urban transport projects.

Photo: Bloomberg

Today the world’s largest annual human migration – the lunar new year travel rush in China – will reach its culmination as millions of people hurry back to the office, where work officially begins tomorrow. They will be taking trains, planes, boats, buses and even bicycles to get back to that cubicle on time. But some will be coming home by a form of conveyance almost unthinkable even a few short years ago: by carpool. 

Brazil’s government knows that if there is a silver bullet to solve the country’s mounting transport infrastructure problem, it is rail. That is why it is pushing with increasing determination a proposal to build not just one but possibly several bullet trains in the country. 

Every year, China stages the largest human migration on earth as up to 1bn people go home to their roots. The FT’s Patti Waldmeir reports on the phenomenal combined buying power of China’s 260m migrant workers and looks at the type of gifts they are buying this year.

China gets a bad rap for lacking creativity. The conventional wisdom, especially among frustrated multinational personnel managers, is that it’s hard to find recruits in China who can “think outside the box” (though those who complain about that defect always use exactly the same phrase about the box, raising questions about their own ability to complain creatively).

But if they scan Chinese newspapers at this time of year – the run-up to Lunar New Year, which triggers the earth’s biggest human migration – they can find plenty of stories of Chinese exercising their ingenuity on the problem of how to get home to mama’s for the holidays. 

Air travellers frustrated at delays in London, Paris and Frankfurt can put their woes in perspective – Warsaw’s suburban Modlin Airport looks like it will be shut for several months, playing havoc with the finances of the low-cost carriers using the new airport.

The reason is that Modlin’s newly-built but already crumbling runway is not fit to accommodate the large airliners that are supposed to land on it. The local building inspector is supposed to issue his verdict by Thursday but indications are that it will be closed until about May. 

Journalists gathers beside the high speed train of the new 2,298-kilometre (1,425-mile) line between Beijing and Guangzhou as it waits to start off in Beijing on December 26, 2012.

From 21 hours to 8: Beijing to Guangzhou

China’s infrastructure development hit another milestone on Wednesday with the full opening of the world’s longest high speed rail line.

Connecting Beijing with Guangzhou at speeds of over 300kph, the 2,298-km route halves travel time between the two cities to less than 10 hours. 

Galeão International Airport | Source: INFRAERO, Wikimedia commonsAnyone who has been through Galeão is unlikely to forget the experience.

The first challenge with Rio de Janeiro`s international airport, which will soon be the country`s gateway for the 2014 soccer World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, is getting there. From downtown Rio or the tourist areas of Ipanema and Copacabana in the south, it can take hours to reach the airport, which lies to the city’s north. During the afternoon rush hour, forget it. You won’t catch your flight.