Abstract: States in the Global South have consistently invested in large-scale, vanity infrastructure projects, which are often not used by the majority of their residents. Using a mixed-method and comparative approach with findings from Greater Maputo, Mozambique, and the Gauteng City-Region exposes how internationally-supported and expensive transport projects do not meet the needs of lower-income urban residents, and meanwhile, widespread, everyday modes of commuting such as trains, paratransit, and pathways for walking deteriorate. State-led development thus often generates an infrastructural landscape characterised by “ruin” and “indifference.” These choices are anachronistic, steeped in a desire for a modernist-inspired future and in establishing narratives of control. In the cases of Gauteng and Maputo, whether or not the infrastructure is “successfully” implemented, these choices have resulted in a distancing of the state from the majority of urban residents.
Keywords: Gauteng; infrastructural ruins; Maputo; Mozambique; South Africa; transport infrastructure