The Road Traffic Management Corporation was born of the need to co-ordinate and standardise the activities of traffic officers at various levels of government. Much of their mandate stemmed from an African conference in which road safety was identified as a crucial issue. Initiatives included the electronic National Traffic Information System (eNaTIS) and the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act. Pilot projects had been undertaken and the lessons learnt were being absorbed in order to improve the legislation. Primary concerns were the target of reducing road accident fatalities by half by the year 2014 and the development of safer conditions in rural areas. Better data collection was needed. Education was needed at school level and a road safety programme for schools was being developed. The effectiveness of the K53 licence testing system was questioned.
Members agreed with the need for education. Rural communities were neglected in a number of ways and more assistance was needed there. Allegations of serious financial malpractices within the Corporation were made and would be referred to the Minister for possible investigation.
The Chairperson said that the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) would make a presentation on its structure, mode of operation and its strategic response to its challenges.
In response to a complaint that Members had not received the documents beforehand, the Chairperson said that this issue had been raised in the past. The Department of Transport had to advise its entities about the Committee’s requirements and should then have ensured that documents were delivered in good time.
Mr S Farrow (DA) agreed and also pointed out that a strategic plan was useless without an accompanying financial plan. More substantive financial information was needed. In addition, the board was the governing body of any organisation. He asked where the Chairperson of RTMC’s Board was.
The Chairperson said RTMC had been invited to present only an overview of their organisation. None of the entities had been asked to make a financial presentation at this stage. This would be called for later.
Mr Ranthoko Rakgoale (Chief Executive Officer, RTMC) apologised for the late delivery of the documents. The RTMC had been informed of the meeting date on the 2 September. They had prepared the strategic plan and a hard copy had been produced. They had sent the Committee a copy of the presentation on the 4 September as they had been requested to do. He would summarise the presentation, which was based on the happenings of the current financial year.
The Chairperson said that the Committee’s programme had been approved in July. Co-ordination was a problem. Entities should have been advised of the programme well in advance. The DoT should have communicated with their entities regarding the presentation dates.
Ms N Khunou (ANC) said that the Committee had said in the past that they would not allow presentations to be made if the documentation was received late. Members were thus denied the opportunity to acquaint themselves with the issues to be raised.
Mr Jacob Mmekoa (Deputy Director: Performance Management and Analysis, DoT) said that he had noted the comments. The DoT would henceforth deal with these matters more efficiently.
Presentation by the Road Traffic Management Corporation
Mr Ranthoko Rakgoale (RTMC: CEO) sketched the background to the formation of the RTMC. It was a strategy to pool the powers and resources at various levels of government. Before 1998, various authorities such as municipalities, metros and provinces had exercised control in their own spheres. There was fragmentation and co-ordination of efforts was an issue. Legislation had been drafted to create the RTMC as a statutory body. A shareholders’ committee controlled it. The members of the committee were the nine provincial Members of the Executive Council (MECs) charged with road transport, the Minister of Transport and two representatives from the South African Local Government Association (SALGA). The committee appointed a Board to execute the functions of the RTMC.
He said that there were many functions assigned to the RTMC by the Act, but they did not yet have the capacity to perform all of them. They were currently fulfilling the functions of the training of traffic personnel, road traffic processing and information, crash investigation, safety education and the implementation of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO). A shareholders committee was scheduled for 22 September 2009, at which the RTMC would take responsibility for all the functions tabled in the Act.
The CEO said that there were several issues that underpinned the strategic plan. These included traffic information, the 2015 road traffic safety strategy, the resolutions taken at the African Ministers of Transport conference, the SWOT analysis, the mandate of the RTMC, the millennium development goals and conference resolutions.
He said that one of the functional areas of the RTMC was compiling a rolling enforcement plan. They needed to bring planning and execution together. The RTMC had to ensure that law enforcement authorities had a plan. There was a perception that law enforcement officers only took to the roads at peak holiday periods such as Easter and Christmas. They worked throughout the year, but many officers were occupied with administrative duties at other times of the year such as conducting driver’s licence tests.
Mr Rakgoale said that the RTMC was 90% complete with the development of the National Road Traffic Law Enforcement Code (NRTLEC). This would regulate the behaviour of law enforcement officers and also the behaviour of all authorities. The RTMC would consult the Department of Labour on labour issues during October 2009. The code would then have to be legislated. One of the issues was the declaration of traffic officers as essential services. An internal governance strategy was to be developed which would be a pillar of the code.
He said that there was a good level of readiness for the 2010 World Cup. A plan had been put into place for the recent Confederations Cup and weaknesses had been identified in the plan. An international conference had been held in
The CEO said that training of officials was a long-term issue. The focus was on traffic matters, but this was not the only part of the official’s work. It was merely one component. The framework for training had to include vehicle registration and licensing procedures as well as the testing of vehicles. Capacity in these areas was limited.
He said that road safety officials could not succeed in their mission of promoting road safety if they only dealt with punishment of offenders without education for the public. If the community was empowered in respect of road safety then half of the RTMC’s work would be done. A long-term solution was the introduction of a multi-media programme for learners. There was a perception amongst the public that a driver owned his or her licence. In fact, this was a privilege issued by government. There had to be an investment in future generations. Road safety should be a part of the Outcomes Based Education (OBE) curriculum from as early as Grade R. This would help to shape better citizens and leaders. A pilot project had been prepared and the RTMC was ready to roll it out. The plan was for every learner to graduate from grade 12 with a learner’s licence. Research showed that children who had knowledge of the rules of the road could act as road safety officers by pointing out mistakes made by their parents.
Mr Rakgoale said that the Electronic National Traffic Information System (eNATIS) would soon be transferred to the control of the RTMC. This would be a backbone of the management process. They were currently gathering info towards finalising the transfer. The transfer would result in real time accident reporting. He said that the RTMC did not investigate all accidents, especially those that occurred in rural areas. Investigations determined who was at fault while reconstruction of accident scenes could reveal what the cause was, such as speeding. At present the RTMC focussed on accidents in which five or more people were killed. These figures were not necessarily accurate, as they only took into account the immediate fatalities in an accident and not those who died subsequently as a result of their injuries. A real-time accident reporting system would see the recording process done within twenty minutes. All resultant deaths would be recorded. A verification process would be followed. The RTMC would be running a pilot project shortly. A benefit of the system would be information to employers who could ascertain the risk associated with employing an applicant while the insurance industry could also use the information to determine risk profiles.
He said that the RTMC was compiling a safety audit. The manual was being updated. AARTO pilot projects had been conducted. These had been labelled as failures by the media but this was not the case. The systems had been tested and some weaknesses had been identified. Interventions would be made in the form of amendments to the legislation. This information would all be submitted to the shareholders committee meeting on 22 September.
The CEO said that a particular problem was the use of false number plates. A number of vehicles were fitted with such plates. The new system relied on the use of an electronic vehicle identification system (EVIS). The focus was more on electronic systems rather than law enforcement officers. In the Tshwane and
He said that there was a problem with the credibility of law enforcement officers. They were not supposed to have a criminal record. However, at one authority only 120 of the 3 000 officers which were appointed had a clean record.
Mr Rakgoale said that the RTMC had formed partnerships in different parts of the country. He mentioned projects in
Mr Farrow said that he had expected to see balance sheets that would have indicated the degree to which the RTMC was fulfilling its mandate. He asked if the government grant and transaction fees were providing sufficient income for the RTMC, and if there were any sponsorships. He repeated his enquiry about the lack of Board representation at the meeting. A strategic process was being followed and the Board’s absence could be interpreted as showing a lack of buy-in on their part.
Ms Khunou asked what interaction the RTMC had with the Road Accident Fund (RAF) and local government. She asked if the RTMC was represented all over the country. She cited the example of the road from
Ms Ngwenya-Mabila queried the backlogs experienced at licence testing centres. She asked who was dealing with this problem. It was her understanding that applicants for appointment as traffic officials should have clean records and asked how those with criminal records could be appointed. Fees for vehicle registration had been increased. She asked where this money went. Driving schools were mushrooming around the country. Traffic officials owned some of these. She asked if these were regulated, and what role the RTMC played. She asked what support would be given to schools in the implementation of the multi-media project. She asked who would provide the training, or if it would be sufficient to use a teacher who held a valid driver’s licence. She asked what regulations would apply. She asked how many training institutions had been established. There were none in
Mr M de Freitas (DA) asked when AARTO would be rolled out nationally. He asked if deadlines were being met. He noted that there were many designated points for the payment of fines, but he sensed a lack of communication to advise the public. In terms of eNATIS and AARTO there was a need to update dates and amend incomplete records. He asked where the RTMC was in the repair process. It seemed that the AARTO website had been infiltrated. He asked what had happened there. There had been a problem with the payment of fines, which resulted in the unlawful collection of many fines. He had heard that fining could only take place in certain road limit zones. There were anomalies associated with roads where speed limits of between 70 and 110 km/h applied. Finally, he supported the road safety education of learners wholeheartedly. He asked if this was still a conceptual idea or if the RTMC had already started negotiations with the Department of Education (DoE).
Ms N Ngele (ANC) wished that she had been young enough to benefit from road safety education at school. Learners tended to move between schools. She asked if standard training would occur in all areas. Licensing was a problem. Different rates and times applied in different areas. She asked how difficult it was to detect malpractices.
Mr Rakgoale replied that some of the questions would be answered in the presentation on the long-term strategy. The RTMC had different funding sources. There was a government grant that was decreasing annually. The Minister of Finance had approved transaction fees. This funding would go towards the maintenance of eNATIS. Initially, all nine provinces had made contributions to eNATIS funding, but this was no longer the case. The transaction fees would result in savings for the provinces. The question of funding had not been explored sufficiently. However, the intention was to see the RTMC become self-sufficient.
He said that some authorities were not playing for their enquiries. There was a need to protect the privacy of information. This was the reason for payments to access the system. Insurance companies paid for information on accidents. There was a tendency for the companies to pay the Police for enquiries. Sources of funding would have to be maximised.
The CEO said that the Board had led the development of the long-term strategy. The Chairperson had made an input into the 2015 strategy. There was a buy-in from the Board. The Chairperson would present the strategy to the shareholders committee.
The RAF was a sister agency. Information from the RTMC systems would help to mitigate the risk of false claims. Together they could fund projects. Accidents were still being reported to the Police. There were other service points such as community centres where accidents could be reported. Such centres were to be found throughout the country. Some accidents in the rural areas were never reported.
Mr Rakgoale was aware of the crowding of the licence testing centres. There were pockets of excellence such as in KwaZulu Natal (KZN). Learner’s tests had been computerised and the example had been followed in some other areas. Roll out of future testing programmes should be in a modernised fashion. The Minister had committed himself to this. Applicants could request to take the test at any time. The test could be taken in any one of the eleven official languages. Testing officers were thus relieved of the burden of supervising tests and could concentrate on their core business.
He said that the RTMC was working on the question of the driver’s licence test. Current systems were outdated. He questioned the effectiveness of the K53 system. It was not possible for law enforcement officers to monitor the compliance of drivers to the K53 standards out on the road. Types of testing systems should be adopted which would lead to a reduction in the carnage on the roads.
The CEO said that traffic officers who were not registered could not simply be thrown away. They had already been appointed and could be used in other areas. He agreed that the background of applicants should be checked before they were appointed. In some cases officers under investigation would resign before the case against them was finalised and would then reapply for employment elsewhere.
He said that AARTO would develop a single national register of offenders.
Mr Rakgoale said that the registration of a motor vehicle was the responsibility of local authorities. The vehicle would spend most of its lifespan within the boundaries of that authority. However, the payment of annual licence fees was the domain of the provinces. All provinces except the
He said that there were annual increases for vehicle registrations and licence fees. Different rates were charged in the respective provinces. The RTMC was looking for uniform rates. In terms of the RTMC Act, the transaction fee had been increased from R30 to R36. These were used for the maintenance of eNATIS and the costs of the RTMC. All other fees went to provincial and municipal authorities.
Mr Rakgoale said that the Chairperson of the Board had never been invited. On most occasions he did avail himself to attend meetings and would do so in the future.
He said that driving schools were part of the training issue. They should fall within a national training framework. They were not regulated. They could not guarantee their customers that they would pass the licence test. While training was necessary, there was a question on how driving schools could be regulated. Registration could be considered together with a set of standards. Driving schools needed to educate their customers. Some schools offered guaranteed licences after as little as two weeks of training but might be doing nothing other than placing their students on an express path to a fatal accident.
The CEO said that the RTMC was dealing with problems that had been picked up with AARTO. They were convinced that the national roll out would still happen before the end of 2010. There had been a lack of communication as more focus had been placed on the pilot projects. There was a clear communications plan in the roll out plan. Information was given to the media but this might not reach people in the rural areas. The eNATIS should provide a national register of infringements. The pilot project in Tshwane had been impacted by some system errors. There had been no support from the system but this had been addressed.
He said that the pilot project in
Mr Rakgoale said that interventions were being made regarding the false number plates. The EVIS had been introduced. Traffic officers would also be supplied with pocket computers. They could enter registration numbers into these devices and access information immediately. He was sure that 80-85% of those guilty of such an offence would be targeted offenders.
He said that the pilot projects had concentrated on roads with a 60-km/h restriction in urban areas and 70, 80, 100 and 120 km/h limits in other areas. There did not seem to be provision for 70 km/h zones. There was a question about this. He continued that the print media had highlighted cases where speed enforcement cameras were illegally placed. The local traffic authorities had to apply to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to place cameras. One of the articles of AARTO would take this function away from the judiciary. The location of cameras would then be informed not by the DPP but by research. Hazardous areas had been identified. It was a question of safety rather than making money.
The CEO said that they would work in collaboration with the DoE. They were also working with provincial education departments. The Minister had communicated with both the Ministers of Basic and Higher Education. Road safety education would be a joint initiative. All schools would be at the same level.
Mr Hlengani Moyana (Senior Executive Manager, RTMC) said that the RTMC would make provision for payments. Provision would be made for several pay points. It was a complicated issued. There had been restricted jurisdiction during the pilot phase. All forms of payment would be enabled after the national roll out. The website had not been hijacked. There had been a small administrative error that had allowed the domain registration to lapse. The Justice Programme of
RTMC Strategic Priorities 2009-2015
Mr Rakgoale said that the strategic plan for 2009-2015 would bring alignment to fracture issues. One area of the RTMC’s mandate was the fixing of fragmentation. Section 2 of the Road Transport Act stipulated that the RTMC must act in the public interest. It was to form partnerships between the different spheres of government. Powers were to be pooled.
He said that the RTMC faced a number of challenges. The first was the achievement of the millennium development goals. The response was not as good as in other sectors. The Minister had asked what had been done to respond to the challenges in April 2006. There was a need to halve the number of road traffic accidents by 2014. A road safety conference had been held in
The CEO listed some of the resolutions that had been taken at the conference. Firstly, the need was seen for a lead agency to champion road safety. In
He said that a critical issue was how rural areas were forgotten both in terms of safety and road construction. National road safety targets were required. There was to be a move away from separate local and regional plans. A week of road safety consciousness was to be held globally. Road safety was to be recognised as a global problem. A remembrance day for the victims of road accidents was to be held in November.
Mr Rakgoale said that there were considerations in terms of the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (ASGISA). Firstly, road accidents had a negative economic effect. Road safety management could create employment opportunities. Fraud and corruption at test centres had to be eliminated. An area in which the RTMC lacked expertise was in that of accident reconstruction. There was a reliance on the private sector. If nothing was done then road accidents would be the second largest cause of death by the year 2020. Road safety would be a key issue during 2010. The DoT had adopted a road safety strategy in 2006.
He said that there were a number of challenges. The number of registered road vehicles had increased by 6.1% to 9 million by the end of 2007. Of these, 4.73% were unlicenced. Of these, some 4% (369 000) were not roadworthy. A survey of road traffic offences in 2007 showed that 23% of light motor vehicles exceeded the 60-km/h speed limit. During the night, 1.4% of drivers were under the influence of alcohol. 39.6% of front seat occupants and 92.6 of back seat occupants did not use seatbelts. 2.2% of drivers did not have a valid licence. 4.1% of truck drivers did not have a valid Public Driving Permit. However, there was a decrease of 3% in both the number of fatal accidents and fatalities. The highest number of fatalities in Africa occurred in
The CEO said that the way forward was to review the national strategy. The reporting strategy had to be improved. Better national co-ordination was needed to provide the RTMC with a daily picture of what was happening. A productive partnership was needed with local government.
He said that another challenge lay in training and skills development. There were currently twelve colleges nationally. Some province had two although there was no college in
Mr Rakgoale said that municipal officials met with provincial counterparts and their concerns were passed on to national level. This type of forum did not yet exist in all provinces. They were operational in the
Road safety efforts would be concentrated on certain offences. Research showed that speeding resulted in the highest number of fatalities. Other primary areas of concern were drunken and reckless driving. The RTMC had set a target of halving the number of road accident deaths by 2014.
The CEO said that the strategic plan document had been compiled and would be presented to the shareholders committee. This would be followed by a national consultation workshop. They had gone to all provinces and had been involved with all provincial departments. The shareholders were demonstrating their leadership.
He said that other matters included the successful implementation of the AARTO Act, co-ordination of effective traffic engineering remediation procedures, the need for effective research initiatives, the development of an information management system and the execution of an overall financial plan. Given the RTMC’s limited resources, a financial model would have to be developed to fund the strategic plan.
The Chairperson said that the link between the RTMC and the RAF was still unclear. The RTMC was responsible for the co-ordination of activities, but was only responsible for vehicular traffic. Another entity was responsible for the road surface. She wanted clarification on who took responsibility for which infrastructure. She understood that SANRAL was responsible for roads that carried the N prefix, but there were also roads with prefixes such as P, D and M. She asked if there was a way to solve the problems of the RAF.
She noted that she had travelled from Pietermaritzburg to
Ms Khunou asked how the millennium development goals related to SANRAL. Not all accidents were caused by drunken driving. She asked if the entities ever met with each other. The Committee did meet with all entities. They had to make sense of the environment. She asked if licence centres were responsible for the proliferation of false number plates. She asked how the situation could be changed. Small shops sold number plates indiscriminately. She asked what the relationship was between false number plates and accidents and traffic offences. There had been an investigation conducted in Limpopo by an investigator from
Mr Farrow had served on the Committee for ten years and had been a party to the birth of the RTMC. He knew of their difficult circumstances and the fight for funding. He was perturbed by the bad publicity surrounding eNATIS. There had been over spending to the tune of R111 million. Two years previously a contractor involved with the project had been engaged to transfer skills to the RTMC. He did not believe that this had happened as yet but the contractor was still being rewarded.
He noted that the CEO had been a member of the Board previously. Expenses had to be open to scrutiny. An article had been published in the Sunday Times recently. This article made allegations of a number of suspicious payments alleged to have been made by the RTMC. He listed these in detail. He said that R1.3 million had been spent on tickets for the Confederations Cup. A provincial workshop had been held which cost R45 million even though only R1.5 million had been budgeted. R658 million was being spent on the lease of offices even though the offices had not yet been occupied. R1.2 million had been spent on office furniture. Some of the pieces could not fit into the building. One of the expenses was an amount of R9 million for road safety advertising on the South African Broadcasting Corporation. All cars needed to stop at garages and such messages could be flighted for free at these places. He asked if there was any truth to these allegations, as he believed in the saying that there was no smoke without fire. He had reacted to these allegations by releasing a media statement.
Mr Farrow said that the newspaper reporter had interviewed some RTMC staff. There had been a flood of information and a fifteen-page document had been released. He had written to the Minister requesting an investigation and the suspension of the CEO. The allegations were serious and had already been brought into the public domain. The DoT also had an oversight role and he asked if they were aware of the allegations. He asked if the DoT would be reporting on the matter at this meeting. If not then he felt that the RTMC CEO and Board should be recalled at a future date to clear the air. He had worked in big organisations before and knew how disgruntled employees could have a sour grapes feeling leading to the spreading of rumours. In this case, he had spoken to five or six people and sensed that something was wrong within the RTMC.
He said that the Committee was in the public eye and this reflected on the entity. The Committee was responsible. He did not expect an immediate answer. He added that the staff members had requested an audience with the Minister.
Ms Ngwenya-Mabila said that the Committee could not discuss newspaper reports. They would need an official report before they could react. There was a need for engagement.
The Chairperson was in possession of the same information that had been forwarded to Mr Farrow. The RTMC staff had briefed her. In fact the people involved had left the RTMC’s employment. She explained the purpose of this meeting. The matter did fall within the Committee’s oversight role but a process had to be followed. Mr Farrow had spoken to the Minister. She also had a meeting scheduled with him to discuss this issue and some other matters. If it was decided that a forensic audit was needed, then there would be no benefit in engaging with the issue at Committee level. If the Minister did decide to launch an investigation, then it would not be for this forum to discuss it. There would be a clash. Her chosen route was to meet with the Minister first before discussing the issue in the Committee. She understood his intentions. The Minister would respond to Mr Farrow.
Ms Ngwenya-Mabila returned to the question of rural development. Licensing centres were in urban areas. She asked what the real reason was for the number of unlicensed drivers on the roads. She asked if there were too few testing officers or if the problem was more one of a lack of organisational capacity. She asked what the role of traffic officials was in dealing with heavily loaded vehicles. Many of the fatalities in
Mr Rakgoale said that roads bearing the M prefix were the responsibility of municipalities and metros. The N prefix was for national roads. There were few of these. The P prefix was used for provincial roads. Some of these provincial roads had been declared as national roads. An example was the P21 from
The Chairperson returned to the Masakhane document. One of the principles in that document was cross-subsidisation. She was sorry that this was not a joint meeting with SANRAL, the RAF and SALGA. There was not enough time to discuss the issue thoroughly. People in the rural areas made use of those national roads that passed through their communities. The principle was that money should be collected for investment in underdeveloped areas. Facilities were not accessible. Poor municipalities could not afford to upgrade their roads. This illustrated the need for cross-subsidisation. If SANRAL was collecting toll fees on the national road, she asked where the municipality should get its funds. This was still a legacy of apartheid. Communities had never chosen to have bad infrastructures and could not be punished for this. There was no work in these areas and the people were indigent. The municipalities could not develop without generating their own revenue. Roads and transport were the heartbeat of social development. This was not the responsibility of the RTMC but a collective solution was needed. Rural communities deserved quality services as did urban communities.
She said that the time limit for the meeting had been reached. She apologised to the DoT representatives and invited them to return for a meeting the following week on taxi recapitalisation.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Road Traffic Management Corporation on its operations and strategic plan
- Transport: Briefing by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) on its operations and follow up on outstanding issues
- Transport: Briefing by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) on its operations and follow up on outstanding issues
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