Total quality management and effective urban public transport operations at Sedibeng District Municipality
Machobane, Thabang Daniel Gladwin
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Total Quality Management (TQM) at the urban interface is one means to delivering improved value of tax payers' money, but effective urban public transport is one step along the road to a better quality of urban life in general. Similarly, TQM is an organizational philosophy that stresses meeting customer requirement and expectations the first time, and sustainably. Philosophy, therefore, in this context encompasses a set of structured principles, value systems with attitude and beliefs, and processes that are never ending and always in motion: detecting and preventing defects while creating an idea of innovation. The role that transport plays in the social and economic development of any country is significant. Urban public transport authorities have recognized transport as one of its priority for socio economic development in meeting basic needs of its people. Specifically, a public transport system has been identified as being vital to social and economic development. In this context, urban public transport is a key link to access services and other livelihood assets to serve the poor such as women, children and the disabled people effectively. Urban public transport operations at Sedibeng District Municipality (SDM) are deteriorating. This deterioration manifest in the form of delay, pollution, inadequate infrastructure, high transportation costs, lack of public participation, constraints of planning and co-ordinating; and lack of coherent public transport operations. Mass Transport (trains, buses and mini-bus taxis) are scarce, overcrowded, unreliable and involve long walking distances. Whilst many municipalities have made significant strides in adopting TQM, little has been written on how TQM has been applied in the Department of Transport and Infrastructure Planning of the Cluster: Transport, Infrastructure and Environment. The fundamental objective of this study, consequently, is to empirically investigate the relationship between TQM and effective Urban Public Transport operations at Sedibeng District Municipality. In evaluating the level of TQM implementation at Sedibeng District Municipality (SDM), the concepts and principles from an examination of documentary data and analyses were applied. In testing the validity or otherwise of the hypothesis, semi-structured interviews, focus group discussion and participant observation methods were conducted to solicit comments from senior managers, employees, public transport operators and users. This study reports the results of a full survey among a sample of the District-wide customers in the study area. It was found, amongst others, that: the overwhelming majorities of the Senior Management Team are educated and have rich years of experience in working in local government to ensure that strategies, structures, and processes are in place for the continuous improvement of service quality for customer satisfaction; the drafting of the TQM strategy by the Senior Management Team is not inclusive of the broader stakeholder such as internal and external customers; SDM as a whole is not customer orientated, hence TQM calls for a cultural transformation that requires employee involvement at all levels and the spirit of teamwork amongst managers, employees, operators and users; employees are not encouraged to use Total Quality concepts to improve their work process; statistical tools and process control charts are typically not used or understood by employees. In this case, opinions are clear on this item since employees have not been trained in the use of statistical tools and process control charts. The study ends with recommendations for management action in improving urban public transport by making use of TQM as a management tool.