Minister of Transport briefing to media on 2009 Budget Speech


02 Jul 2009

Hon Sibusiso Ndebele, Minister of Transport
Hon Jeremy Cronin, Deputy Transport Minister
Hon Mpumi Mpofu, Director General of the Department of Transport

Hon Sibusiso Ndebele, Minister of Transport, presented the highlights of his budget speech delivered to the National Assembly. The topics covered in his address included discussions and conclusions reached with the taxi industry, the Integrated Public Transport system, R25 billion government expenditure on rail systems, rural development, corruption, job creation through the Expanded Public Works Program (EPWP), road safety, the new airport at La Merci and 2010 World Cup matters, especially with regard to difficulties seen at the Confederations Cup.


Q: What were the specific problems FIFA had highlighted post the Confederations Cup? What was the timeline for the ‘demerit drivers licence’ system to become effective? What would the likely outcome with the taxi industry be?

A: Minister Ndebele: The major problems experienced were that there had been too many authorities involved and there was a need for a more centralised control room to avoid orders that contradicted one another. Due to poor communication and differing instructions, members of the public had been stranded at Ellis Park until 3am after one of the Confederations Cup. Each city should have a centralised control as well.

A: Deputy Minister Jeremy Cronin: He wished to stress that the Department had not only been taking its cues from FIFA and that the Department had identified a definite need for a centralised control where transport, security and other logistical components could all receive non-conflicting instructions. FIFA was quite adamant about the intellectual property rights concerned with the event and that this had prevented their involvement with signage, a matter which the Department intended to push strongly. He commented on the great success of the Passenger Rail Agency (PRASA) which had successfully moved 40 000 passengers during the Confederations Cup and which had diminished greatly the problem of post-match transport. On the discussions with the taxi industry, he said that the state had had to appreciate the crucial role which the taxi industry played, but also that the taxi industry would have to evolve to fit into current circumstances.

A: Minister Ndebele: On the demerit licence system, they had done the pilots in Tshane and Joburg on the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences system (AARTO). It was ready for roll-out this year but they needed to ensure that local governments and provinces were all attuned. This fine tuning in rolling it out meant AARTO would start biting properly by next year.

Q: Had enough been done up until now to ensure preparedness for the World Cup in eleven months? What were the specifics about the demerit system? What advancements had been made with the taxi industry concerning subsidies and the Taxi Recapitalisation Program.

A: Ms Mpumi Mpofu explained the different stages of preparation for the World Cup. Plans had been implemented as information became available. It was her belief that the infrastructure development phase was almost at an end. The next phase would be one of testing how well the infrastructure could be used. This she termed the operational stage referring to whether or not South Africa would be able to effectively manage the new infrastructure in an operational state. She cited SA as being second in the world in terms of per capita expenditure on infrastructure, second only to China. SA had world class infrastructure and the question now was whether or not SA could operate this infrastructure effectively.

A: Minister Ndebele: The government was already spending around R8 billion on the Integrated Rapid Transport (IRT) system which included taxis and that this was a form of subsidy.

A: Ms Mpofu added that the issue with subsidies was that they were industry specific and that the plan would be to make them route specific, allowing the taxi industry to benefit from them as well. These subsidies would become applicable in April 2010 and the question was one of how, not whether or when.

A: Minister Ndebele explained that the demerit system would consist of a driver beginning with around 100 points and losing a specific number of points per driving discrepancy. In Australia where the system had been effective, it was possible to drive for 50 years and still have 85 or more points. Different offences would result in different penalties and if the driver lost all their points, they would have to relinquish their licence. Fines would still be in effect, but that they would be supplemented by the deduction of points and the system would culminate in the loss of ones licence. Australians were very similar to South Africans in their drinking and socialising habits and the demerit system had had tremendous effects in changing bad driving habits in that society.

A: Deputy Minister Cronin explained that the Taxi Recapitalisation Program was still in use. The program had had a slow first year due to a tedious evaluation system. This in turn had led to a reduction in funding for the program in the second year which had resulted in insufficient funds to see all applications processed. Now in the third year, both funding and evaluation issues had been resolved and the subsidy amount had been increased to R55 000, in line with inflation rates.

Q: Are there figures available on the number of taxis already recapitalised? How would the new subsidies be implemented.

A: Ms Mpofu explained that the subsidies would be done through a modal system where they would be paid to companies or associations which operated on specific routes. The first priority would be major commuter routes, then general transport routes and lastly, more rural and long distance routes. The recapitalisation process was ongoing and aimed at removing un-roadworthy vehicles from the road and not at how many vehicles they could scrap. The scrapping process was constrained by the budget and therefore only as many as where accounted for in the budget had been scrapped. About 100 000 legal taxis and approximately 50 000 semi-legal taxis had been scrapped. For a taxi to be considered semi-legal, it needed to have begun the registration process to become legal but not have completed it. Part of the Department’s plan was to assist operators in completing this process so that they could recapitalise. The objective of the program was to remove un-roadworthy vehicles and the program ran for seven years after which the subsidy program would account for the proper maintenance of taxis.

Q: Would the demerit system include existing fines and would there be any offences which would still incur immediate arrests.

A: Minister Ndebele confirmed that there would still be offences which would result in the immediate loss of the perpetrator’s licence. He gave examples of such offences as hit-and-run and drunk driving. He emphasised however that the objective of the program was to change the bad habits of drivers and encourage safer driving.

A: Deputy Minister Cronin added that after a period of safe driving, one’s points would regenerate.
The briefing was adjourned


President Jacob Zuma told the taxi industry in April to defer negotiations on the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system until after the elections. During the State of the Nation Address President Zuma said the Minister of Transport would resume discussions with the industry by 11 June 2009. 

Indeed on 11 June 2009 we met over 2000 representatives of the industry made up of taxi associations and their organized structures nationally. Prior to that, we held fruitful discussions with leaders of the South African National Taxi Council.

On 26 June 2009 we met the leadership of the National Taxi Alliance (NTA) and held similar consultations with provincial departments and affected municipalities. We are now all ready to start a “CODESA” of the taxi industry.

We will encourage the industry to participate in the entire transport value chain. This includes buses, freight, rail, transport finance and fuel to mention a few. For a start our structured engagement focuses on five strategic areas:

1.       Implementing the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system and other Integrated Public Transport Network (IPTN) Projects;

2.       Taxi Subsidization and the Taxi Recapitalization Programme;

3.       Legislation, Licensing and Regulatory Issues;

4.       Enterprise Development; and

5.       Communication and Stakeholder Engagement. 

In August the Working Group will submit an interim report and implementation will start by October 2009. We can say we have now entered a phase that is not going to be characterised by conflict. If 2009 is a turning point let it not be said that the taxi industry did not turn.


We must acknowledge that the bus sector is experiencing problems and requires urgent intervention. Durban Transport, one of our subsidized bus services is beset with problems. The present operator opted to discontinue services within eThekwini as from 1 July 2009. The operator cited inadequate subsidies and escalating fuel costs as key to their difficulties. Together with the eThekwini Metro and the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport we will find alternative operators as a matter of urgency. We will appoint new operators who will start on 1 August 2009 for a period of 12 months. The city is finalizing discussions with taxi and other bus services to provide additional trips during July to maintain ongoing services. The new operators will only provide management services and drivers since the fleet and depot facilities are owned by the municipality. We will soon release a plan to grow the bus sector as part of local integrated networks and city-to-city services. The Bus Rapid Transit system and the subsidy system are part of this initiative.

Government is investing R25 billion over the MTEF period to stabilize and upgrade rail passenger transport services in our country. Of these, R14 billion is being spent to upgrade rail passenger infrastructure and rolling stock whilst the balance will be funding for rail operations. 

Correcting the legacy of apartheid in rural South Africa calls for the creation of an equitable road network. No school, no hospital, no clinic or public facility should be unreachable just because there is no road. To begin with, all public facilities in all communities should be reachable by car. We will build pedestrian bridges where necessary to ensure life continues regardless of whether it has rained or not. To fund this, the budget of the Rural Transport Development Programme (RTDP) needs to increase. 

We will pay particular attention to combating fraud and corruption in procurement and tender processes, the Road Accident Fund and drivers’ licences. The contract of the current service provider for the drivers’ smart cards expired on 30 April 2009. It was extended to 31 December 2009 to allow for a proper tender process. We will appoint a new service provider by the end of the year. A new computerised examination system for learner licences will root out fraud and corruption. Plans to computerise all learner licence centres will start immediately. For rural communities new Mobile licence testing centres will bring access closer to all. 

The EPWP infrastructure sector aims to create 2,374,000 work opportunities using labour-intensive methods over five years. There are very good examples of labour-intensive programmes in many of our provinces which we intend to roll out nationally. We will systematize this approach as we build bridges, roads and other infrastructure throughout the country and in the process create sustainable jobs.

The Rural Road Maintenance programme in KwaZulu-Natal has to date created 42 000 sustainable jobs. These women maintain 21 000 km of road. We will identify 100 000km of road to maintain nationally, which will create 200 000 sustainable jobs. This is part of our contribution to the 500 000 jobs that the President mentioned in the State of the Nation Address. 

The emerging contractor programme in road construction creates thousands of job opportunities and promotes Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment. These programmes will be funded from the rural roads component of the Infrastructure Grant of R5 billion. 

The complete road safety strategy will be released soon.Having completed the pilot Road Traffic Infringement Agency in Tshwane and Johannesburg the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) is now ready for implementation. This will include the demerit system which is like acquiring yellow cards until a red card becomes inevitable. The same is now going to apply to your driver’s licence. This is what the demerit means. 

You retain or lose your driver’s licence according to your conduct on our shared space, the public roads. This is what the demerit system is all about. It is now going to be part of our lives on South Africa roads. Road safety is no longer going to be left to individual conscience. 

We will also bolster traffic law enforcement and education. A total of 145 patrol cars, 20 roadblock trailers and other law enforcement equipment will assist the Special Operations Unit (SOUs) at high accident frequency locations. 

We will ensure that the Road Accident Fund creates an equitable, affordable and sustainable funding system for South Africa. The system must eliminate wastages and protect victims and families.

The road infrastructure strategic framework and its action plan will help us assess, prioritise and reclassify the road network. In addition we have developed the SANRAL Strategic Road Network and infrastructure investment plans.

On the issue of the N2 Wild Coast the Minister of Intergovernmental Cooperation and I, will together with the stakeholders ensure that all issues are addressed. 

ACSA has embarked on R20bn infrastructure development in anticipation of the increase in the number of passengers travelling to South Africa by year 2010. At present ACSA handles more than 32million passengers annually. The number will be 43million in year 2010 and will continue to grow. 

We hope to have finalized the formal naming of the new airport at La Mercy in accordance with national legislation and the regulations of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). This process is under way. This has become urgent taking into account the rules of ICAO which say that a name must be formally filed by the country for it to be registered as an official name. The coming FIFA WORLD CUP calls on us to speed up this process so it can be ready for use. 

The CONFEDERATIONS CUP has underlined that the 2010 World Cup is not just about sport, but it is also about transport. A coordinating structure of transport has been established to look at all matters around transport and report to the relevant structures dealing with 2010. It is inclusive of all hosting cities. 

Soon, I will personally visit the host cities to assess transport plans for 2010. We will also hold a Transport Lekgotla at the end of August to ensure that our planning is coordinated and synchronized accordingly. 

Transport remains critical for a successful 2010 FIFA World Cup because every fan and official at the stadium will use our transport system during the tournament. Through our planned public transport infrastructure of R19.6bn we will ensure the tournament leaves a rich legacy for our country and continent.

In conclusion, efficient, affordable and modern transport systems can redefine Africa as a developed world. It is not the wealth of a country that builds roads; it is roads that build the wealth of a country.

Transport Budget Debate
3rd July 2009, National Assembly

Deputy Transport Minister Jeremy Cronin, Deputy Minister

South Africa is on the threshold of a major transformation of public transport. This transformation won’t come all at once. It won’t happen everywhere simultaneously. It will, necessarily, be incremental. But, make no mistake, it is under-way.

It is being spurred on partly by government’s commitment to ensure that the major legacy we will derive from our hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup will be the beginnings of a public transport revolution.

But it is also being assisted by a growing awareness that despite outstanding achievements in the first 15 years of democracy, there are several key factors in our society that continue to actively reproduce inequality, poverty and underdevelopment. And one of these, perhaps one of the most important of these, is the spatial configuration of our society – the way in which space, where you live, where you are located, and therefore who you likely are in terms of class, gender and race, impact dramatically on the cost in time and money that it takes you to access work, education, and any of your basic constitutional and other rights – these matters continue to lie at the heart of the reproduction of gross and racialised inequalities in our society.

“Apartheid cities have unusual spatial contradictions”, notes the South African Cities Network, State of the Cities Report, 2004. On the one hand, they are sprawling realities with density levels that make effective public transport difficult to sustain. This has encouraged further sprawl and growing car dependence. On the other hand, there is relatively high density in the populous townships and informal settlements on the peripheries of our towns and cities.

Apartheid spatial planning was not only about the exclusion of the black majority of South Africans from rights, resources and wealth. It was also, simultaneously, about the controlled (and inferior) inclusion of this majority as commuting labourers into white-owned places of work. This pattern of inclusion/exclusion also played itself out in the relationship of our cities and towns to an impoverished rural hinterland of reserves and Bantustans. The black majority was held far away enough to be containable, close enough to be useful to a white minority. The social, economic and spatial realities set in place by decades of apartheid (and earlier forms of colonial segregation) are now not easy to unravel as we have discovered over the last 15 years.

What was once actively planned under apartheid is now often reproduced and compounded by market forces, in particular by property prices. One of the key political commitments of the new democratically elected government of 1994 was that a million low-cost, subsidised houses would be built within five years. But to meet this ambitious flagship target, the bulk of the now over 3 million low-cost houses have been located on peripheral land. Access and mobility inequities for the poor have often been deepened – unintentionally, of course.

To understand our present challenges in regard to public transport, it is necessary to understand the embedded spatial legacies that we are dealing with and the problems that they constantly reproduce. We cannot solve our public transport problems by way of transport alone – we need to work closely with municipalities and their IDPs. We need to work closely with the appropriately re-named Human Settlements Department. And we need to ensure that a key responsibility for the new Planning Commission in the Presidency is planning for the long-range spatial democratisation of our country.

However, while effective transport provision depends on a transforming built environment, we also need to appreciate that public transport can be a key catalyser for transforming our presently inequitable spatial realities. Good public transport can knit formerly divided communities together. Shifting away from an overemphasis on the sterile environment of car congested freeways – to public transport routes along which businesses, facilities, mixed income settlements take root is a core component of nation building. Efficient and reliable public transport used by rich and poor alike fosters a sense of solidarity and national unity, in a way that tens of thousands of individual cars on a congested freeway never can.

We got a glimpse of these public transport possibilities from the FIFA Confederations Cup over the past weeks…and it is to this that I would now like to turn.

Yesterday, we held an extended MINMEC meeting, which included colleagues from our transport public entities as well as colleagues from host cities. A key agenda item was to critically review transport arrangements during the Confed Cup. Colleagues will be aware that FIFA’s president gave us a good (but not perfect) 7 out of 10 for our hosting of the Confed Cup. In particular, transport and accommodation were singled out as challenges. 

Indeed, a number of transport problems were encountered. There are lessons that need to be learned. Some cities were less effective than others in their planning and preparations, and this showed up in heavy congestion during match days – Rustenburg was particularly culpable. Cities where there is an apparent lack of capacity will require dedicated attention from national and provincial spheres.

In most of the host cities, the key approach to transporting to and from stadiums was based on the Park and Ride principle. Park your car and catch a minibus shuttle to the stadium. Generally this approach worked relatively well, but there were numbers of glitches. Initially there was poor cooperation and a lack of shared information between transport officials, traffic officers and the police. There were different chains of command. Cars and shuttles were sometimes given conflicting directions.

The training of mini-bus operators on the shuttles appears also to have sometimes been inadequate. There was at least one report in the media of a Gauride shuttle getting lost on the way from Johannesburg to a Pretoria venue.

But all of this should certainly be counter-balanced with many favourable reports about the politeness of drivers, and about the sense of general safety that even suburban fans with their young families experienced on their way to matches. At least one letter writer to a newspaper (clearly an avid soccer fan) noted from first-hand experience a distinct improvement over the course of the six different Confed Cup matches he attended.

If transportation to stadiums sometimes proved complex, an even stickier problem occurred after matches. This was always going to be the tougher challenge. Fans arrive at a stadium over a two or three hour period, and this is more or less manageable for a fleet of minibus shuttles. But fans leave the stadium all in one go. Fans often experienced long delays or even difficulty in finding the correct departure point for shuttles taking them back to their particular Park and Ride facility. This was often attributable to poor or non-existent signage, and this was, in turn, partly a problem with FIFA’s refusal for us to put up transport signage in and around the stadiums. It is a matter that we will be taking up with them.

There are other problems that we have identified, including ineffective training and in some case low morale among volunteers at Park and Ride facilities. Indeed, we are reviewing the wisdom of using volunteers for transport related activities in 2010.

Perhaps the biggest lesson we have learnt from the past weeks of the Confed Cup is the imperative of having an effective, single command centre combining transport, traffic and security in one chain of command, and replicated at the local level. At a Park and Ride facility, at a stadium precinct, at the host city level someone (working of course with a team) needs to be in charge of the totality of operations, and they need to be contactable by and answerable to a command centre above them.

An assessment of transport in the Confed Cup would be incomplete without noting one of the most positive but largely unsung successes – the critical role that our Passenger Rail Agency (PRASA) was able to play. PRASA moved some 40,000 people to matches during the weeks of the Confed Cup. It was able to attract not just its traditional Metrorail customers but also higher income non-traditional customers. PRASA ran rail services from Johannesburg to Rustenburg, and from Johannesburg to Bloemfontein (in the latter case transporting some 3000 fans to the SA/Spain match). These were on routes that have not been used in a long while. All went without a hitch.

There were also 28 train sets in operation between Coca Cola (Ellis) Park and Loftus stadiums. The Park and Ride principle was also used for parks adjacent to train stations and fans were able to take a ride to the newly refurbished Doornfontein station (a 2-minute walk to Ellis Park) and the Rissik station next to Loftus.

What can we learn from this? Our trains have a passenger capacity of between 2000 and 2500. They are mass movers. And this is why they, along with other mass-movers – our prospective Bus Rapid Transit and other Integrated Rapid Public Transport network systems – need to provide the back-bone for public transport mobility for 2010. And this is why it is so imperative that we move rapidly to the implementation of at least the first phases of these new mass movement systems – not at the expense of affected minibus operators, but through the effective involvement and integration of these operators into the new systems.

Towards the end of yesterday’s MINMEC assessment of the Confed Cup, my colleague, Western Cape Transport MEC Robin Carlisle eloquently summarised what I think was a collective conclusion. (I hope he will forgive me for quoting him): “We have crossed a threshold”, he said, “from asking how bad will it be?” (he was referring to public transport for 2010) “to asking how good can we make it?.”

As we ask ourselves that question, we need also always to remember that 2010 public transport is not just about the event. It is about creating a new public transport legacy for future generations.

And that, I believe, is at the heart of the budget we have tabled before the National Assembly today.



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