The Department of Transport briefed the Committee on its Annual Report and Financial Statements. The Director-General and other senior staff presented the highlights of the performance of the Department in 2008/09 and reassured the Committee of the confidence of the Department regarding 2010. Bus, rail, and taxi plans had been consolidated into one Operational Plan and were due for finalisation at the end of the month in preparation for 2010. Some challenges related to the infrastructure were not critical for the success of the World Cup.
Members expressed concern about the increase in expenses and salaries reported. Members asked why the bus subsidy increase of R836 million had not been budgeted for. The Department has taken a decision to devolve subsidies to provinces, and role of the National Department was therefore only to provide support. The Committee asked for an explanation regarding the instances of no-shows and non-arrivals. The Committee questioned the situation of 'Acting' positions in the Department as this reflected bad budgetary allocations and a lack of foresight. The Committee asked what was being done about the many accidents and deaths on the roads. Provinces were not intervening adequately to remedy this situation. Members asked about the consultation process for the National Scholar Transport Policy. Members questioned the Imbizo programme and the lack of notification when certain events were cancelled. It was emphasised that Imbizos were not taken lightly and the Department had not delivered on its promises to the people.
The Gauteng Legislature questioned the apparent abandonment of the North West Star bus company and recommended subsidisation. This matter had been listed in the Budget many times but with no response from Treasury. Members questioned the training of only 600 taxi drivers. The continued use of the National Land Transport Transition Act (NLTTA) was questioned by the Committee. Members asked for a detailed progress report on the rural transport strategy of the Department. The Committee asked if the Shova Kalula bicycle master plan was working for people in the rural areas, and about the co-ordination of the distribution of the bicycles. Members expressed concern about the welfare of people in rural areas with regard to transport and question whether the Department was applying itself sufficiently. Members questioned the process of implementation of the taxi subsidy framework. The Department was unable to monitor the implementation of the framework as taxis were generally difficult to monitor, as there were no timetables or schedules attached to this mode of transport. Members also asked for reporting on the Moloto Rail Development Corridor.
Department of Transport (DOT) Annual Report 2008/09
Mr George Mahlalela, Acting Director-General, Department of Transport, accompanied by a delegation from the Department of Transport, presented the Annual Report and Financial statements to the Committee. He began with a brief background of the structure of the Report.
Officials from the different directorates at the Department then gave a presentation on various sections of the Report, following the document attached to this Minute.
Mr S Farrow (DA) asked who, specifically, in the Department was taking the lead for this programme, and whether the Acting Director -General could confirm that, in the short time he had been in office, he had satisfied himself that everything was on track for 2010.
Mr Mahlalela said that, with regard to 2010, the Department was supposed to finalise its Operational Plans by the end of this month. The plans would then be submitted to the Local Organising Committee. The Department would then be given the opportunity to improve on the Operational Plans, after the draw in December. Operational Plans had been received from all the host cities. The Department was currently in the process of reviewing all those plans, and was comfortable that it would be able to put together a responsive Operational plan for 2010. There were areas of concern, however, some of which related to the infrastructure in some cities being delayed. Fortunately, some of this infrastructure was not necessarily critical for the success of 2010. The Operational Plans being finalised for the end of this month involved bus, rail, taxi and aviation plans, and these had been consolidated into one Operational Plan.
Mr Farrow commented on the effectiveness of the entities, and said he was concerned to note that an increase in expenses was reported in the Annual Reports, which would lead to more demands being placed on the Department. Mr Farrow asked what control the Department had, over the seemingly mandatory salary and wage increases that were negotiated, to deal with this matter.
Dr Maria Koorts, Deputy Director General: Public Entity Oversight, Department of Transport, provided the context to the issue of the increase of salaries in entities. The entities performed according to their legislative mandates but they were also bound by the laws of South Africa. The role of the Department could not overtake that of the Boards The Executive Authority had the right to intervene whenever there was anything that was not in accordance with the public interest. Those kinds of interventions were definitely followed up, and the Department had many such cases that were being attended to.
However, with regard to the Public Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) in particular, a distinction had to be made. In regard to PRASA, the Annual Report was referring to the adjusted budget of 2008/09. This adjustment was due to the significant and unforeseeable economic and financial events. The same mistake could not be made by viewing the Cross Border Transport Agency (CBRTA ), PRASA and all the other entities in the category.
Mr Farrow asked why the bus subsidy increase of R836 million had not been budgeted for.
Mr Mahlalela explained that a decision had been taken to devolve subsidies to provinces after the Department was sued and forced to pay over-expenditure of approximately R800 million. The National Department had provided support to manage this transition, as subsidies now formed part of provincial funding. There was a debate about insufficient funds being transferred to provinces. The view from National Treasury was that if there were insufficient funds, then Provincial Treasury needed to be engaged with, to discuss augmentation.
Mr Mahlalela added that there was a bigger problem raised about the R856 742 million over-expenditure. This had related to the fact that the Department had moved very slowly on the transformation of the subsidy system, because there had still be some pockets in the country where the old ticket-based system was still operative. This had made it almost impossible to budget for the ticket-based system. There was elasticity in the system of consumption of services by commuters. With the kilometer-based system, there would be payment on the basis of how many kilometers were driven by buses on a monthly basis, and this had made the usage easier to determine. The fluctuations that led to this over expenditure were caused by the two systems. The problem was that over the past three years there had been a massive increase in commuter usage of buses. With the increased public demand for services, the numbers of tickets sold increased, which required a corresponding increase in the subsidy, and this had created the problem. The Provinces and National Treasury had all agreed that by the end of this year the ticket-based system would be replaced by the kilometer-based system.
Mr Farrow asked what the 30 instances of non-arrivals and no-shows were about, listed under wasteful expenditure in this Department.
Mr Deon Viljoen, Parliamentary Liaison Officer in the Office of the Minister of Transport, said that there had been 30 cases of fruitless expenditure or no-shows. Nine related to cases where air tickets provided were not used, and 19 cases related to instances where hotels were booked but people did not arrive to stay there. In 2009 there were no incidents of vehicles being booked and not used, mainly because the Department had entered into a new contract with a new service provider, where if a vehicle was booked and not used it would not be charged for.
Mr Farrow asked how many 'Acting' positions were actually in existence at the Department. Mr Farrow asked further for a list of what was being spent on consultancies from each programme, as opposed to programmes that were undertaken by the Department itself.
Mr Rajesh Jock, Deputy Director-General: Management Services: Department of Transport, explained the situation with regard to the vacancy rate. In 2006 the former Minister approved an establishment which was then ratified by the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) and National Treasury, and this consisted of 1 032 posts. Of that amount, the fiscus could only fund 662 posts. That submission grew from 258 to 662 and that was the figure against which the Department was reporting. The vacancy rate immediately doubled at the Department. The vacancy rate was at 42% in 2006/07, measured against 662 posts. In 2007/08 the vacancy rate was at 35% against 668 posts, so there was a slight growth in the number of posts, made possible by increased allocations being received for salaries, and because the Department was able to re-prioritise within the funding that Treasury had given. The vacancy rate in 2008/09 was at 9%, with 671 vacant posts. Reporting was therefore against the same numbers. The issue regarding the 1 032 posts was essentially that part that would make the Department fully effective.
With regard to the relationship between this issue and consultancies, Mr Jock said that in 2006, when this exercise was done, there was an organisational design work study that informed this process. This study said that for the Department to fulfil its constitutional and legislative mandate, it needed to have 1 032 people at that stage. When this exercise was done in 2008, it showed the need for 1 075 people. However, the reality was that the fiscus could only fund 671 posts. Hence, even if there were no vacancies, the Department would still need extra capacity, and so out-sourcing of work had to be factored in. There was a possibility, now that the elections had been finalised, that the Department could look again at the priorities of government and streamline efforts between the Department and the agencies. The Department would then act as policy-maker, for implementation and oversight. If this could be done, then it might be able to find a match, given the recession and economic constraints in the country, with an ideal structure for the Department. If, whilst doing such an exercise, the Department was also doing alignment, then it would be prudent not to fill too many of the top vacancies. There were ten Deputy Director-General posts in the Department, of which only four were 'Acting' posts, so that was a 40% vacancy rate. If the Director-General (DG) position was added to that, and all the Exco positions, then there would be a 50% vacancy rate. This process of alignment was being handled with the Minister and that would then automatically lead to a lasting strategy and a structure that the Department would then populate.
Mr Viljoen said that there had been agreement that the 1 032 posts would be activated over time, and would be budgeted for. Last year the Department only received funds for the increases. For the other years the Department had not received anything that was in line with increasing the budget to make sure that the Department could activate all those posts.
Mr Z Mlenzana (COPE, Eastern Cape) asked if anything was being done about the many deaths and accidents on the National roads, and especially in the main street in Mount Frere road in the Eastern Cape.
Mr Collins Letsoalo, Deputy Director General: Financial Services: Department of Transport, said that with regard to the various accidents, deaths and recommendations that followed, those recommendations were made available to the provinces, in terms of interventions that were supposed to be done at all those accident sites. In most instances, the relevant authorities at provincial level did not necessarily make interventions, which resulted in nothing being done from the provincial side.
Mr Mlenzana asked who was consulted when the National Scholar Transport Policy was drafted and completed. Mr Mlenzana asked further what the policy imperatives were regarding the co-ordination of Scholar Transport.
Mr Mandla Sithole, Director: Enterprise Development, DOT, said that the National Scholar Transport Policy, as well as the actual transportation of scholars, was a very complex issue in South Africa. Even though there was a draft policy on National Scholar Transport, the question of boundaries and authority was not easy to deal with. Scholars were taken care of by the Department of Education during the day, so implementation involved all the relevant stakeholders. The main role player with the Department of Transport was the Department of Education. There was also the reality that Scholar Transport must be linked to the licensing of operators to ensure how scholars could be transported to school safely. This was mainly a matter of co-ordination.
Mr Mlenzana asked the following questions regarding the Imbizos of the Department: how many Imbizos were planned, and where they were going to be held, why only one Imbizo was held and where was this one held, what the constraints were regarding the Imbizos, whether there were plans to move forward with the programme of those Imbizos; and if Imbizos covered the rural areas of the country.
Mr Thami Ngidi, Acting Deputy Director General: Communication, Department of Transport, said the Imbizo was part of a government wide programme and should also be viewed in terms of a presidential focus. When the Imbizo programme was started in 2000, the decision was to have one Imbizo per year, and subsequently those were increased to two per annum. The participation of a Minister in an Imbizo was either at the level of the Presidential Imbizo, or an Imbizo that had a sectoral focus like transport. The fact that only one Imbizo was held did not reflect an under-achievement, but rather a report on the status quo, because the main issue was what one wanted to achieve with an Imbizo.
Mr R Tau (ANC, Northern Cape) said that the context of the Imbizo was understood. However, the Department had committed itself to go to provinces with imbizos to popularise and clarify the struggle for the Transport Charter, particularly its implication for women. This had never happened. The point was that the Department had not done what it promised the people it would do.
Mr Clement Manyungwana, Acting DDG: Transport Logistics End Corridor Development (TLECD), DOT, said that the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) Transport Charter was now doing the rounds of provinces to address the issues raised.
The Co-Chairperson said that the Department had distributed the provincial programmes of events for the month of October, but some of these events had not taken place. The Department should monitor the provinces with regard to these events.
Mr Mxolisi Xayiya, Chairperson of Portfolio Committee on Roads and Transport, Gauteng Provincial Legislature, said that there was over-expenditure with regard to last year's bus problems and this had affected Gauteng very badly, to the extent that a large number of projects had to be dumped. He asked whether the National Department was not supposed to be looking at a better strategy related to the movement of people. He asked if the National Department was planning to contribute to the subsidisation of the North West Star bus company.
Mr Viljoen answered that with regard to the North West Star bus company issue, and compensating the province of Gauteng, this matter had been put in the budget a number of times, and National Treasury had promised to attend to it, but unfortunately did not. Although the Department had seen some quite substantial increases in the budget, the Departmental budget still remained underfunded on a number of issues, including the issue of structure itself.
Mr Xayiya asked why the National Department's taxi driver training programme had only trained 600 taxi drivers, when there were more than 60 000 taxis moving around.
Mr Jock said that the training of 600 taxi drivers was a special intervention. The Transport Education and Training Authority (TETA) was responsible, and had a Chamber for taxis and a massive programme on taxi driver awareness. The Department did a special focus for 2010, to pilot programmes around customer service and language.
Mr Xayiya said that reference was still being made to the implementation of certain regulations as indicated by the National Land Transport Transition Act (NLTTA), when the National Land Transport Bill (NLTB) was almost in place. He asked if the NLTTA was going to continue to be used as a framework.
Ms Angeline Nchabeleng, Acting Deputy Director General: Intersphere Co-ordination, DOT, replied that the reason why the Department was still promoting the previous regulations was because the National Land Transport Act (NLTA) process formulation and intention had not been finalised as yet. There were challenges because of the threats the Department had received, and the legal intervention submitted to Parliament from the taxi industry. The threats or protests resulted in the establishment of a Joint National Working Committee. Part of that Committee’s work was to look at finalising the Regulations of the NLTA. It was hoped that when the NLTA was promulgated on 1 December 2009, all the Regulations would be in place. The process was extended or prolonged because of all the threats and allegations, coming from taxi industry, and tourism transport also had concerns. The Committee was assured that the parallel process in terms of finalising the Regulations to give effect to the NLTA was happening concurrently, even if the priority Regulation focusing on 2010 special events had been started.
Mr H Maluleka (ANC) said that a very diverse form of transport existed in the country, and asked therefore why a single regulator was needed, when this country used transport as much as it did.
Mr Sithole said that with regard to the single transport regulator, it should be noted that this was an economic regulation, not for all the regulations of all the transport phases or aspects, and had to do with prices and markets. The reason for the perceived need for a single economic regulator, when there were so many diverse participants, was related to the most important consideration, which was the skills and level at which one paid for such economic regulation if it was institutionalized. It might help to have a single base or place where this took place, to help with coordination. This was a long term objective and the Department had drafted a concept document, which would be submitted along with progress made in this regard, as it became available.
Mr Maluleka asked if there were disciplinary cases pending and, if so, for how long had these been ongoing, and how many cases were there that had to be dealt with.
Mr Jock said the Department had had six cases of misconduct that were concluded in the last financial year. Two cases were outstanding and 22 grievances were settled, also with two outstanding cases. In terms of the two outstanding cases, the delay in the one case was caused by the need to get an investigation report. The Department was unable to conclude the investigation in the required 60 days, and asked for a further 60 days. This official could now be charged as the report was received on 30 October. With the other case, charges were brought in January 2009, and the matter was still at the hearing stage. Generally the turnaround time on labour issues was fairly good.
Mr Maluleka asked for clarity regarding the challenge of dangerous goods inspections not being completed because of staff shortages.
Mr Letsoalo said that this related to the lack of Arms staff and funding for some of the posts in that sub-directorate.
Mr Maake asked for information regarding the Transport Women and Gender Audit.
Mr Sithole replied that the Transport Women and Gender Audit meant the categorising of the involvement of women and gender balance issues across the entire sector in South Africa.
Mr Maake noted that the Department had 17 students at an academic institution out of the country, and asked what was expected of these students after completion of their courses. It seemed that the salaries offered by the government were not competitive, and training was done for the economy and not for the Department itself.
Mr Groenewald asked what the reasons were for training students in other countries, when South Africa had excellent training facilities.
Mr Jock said that the students, who were funded from abroad, were sent overseas in terms of a bilateral agreement that the former President had entered into with the Czech Republic. In terms of this agreement, they could make an offer to the university for transport studies, and they sponsored 17 people. This offer was not renewable. The institutions in South Africa could offer an equal quality programme, but because this had come at the expense of a foreign nation it had to be honoured. The Department was pursuing similar concept with the Danish, Norwegian, and other governments for placement of marine graduates, because South Africa did not have facilities to house them.
Mr Tau said that the Committee should be provided with the audit of the International agreement mentioned in the Annual Report, and he also asked that the Department should also provide the Committee with the observations it had made in relation to this kind of international agreement, in terms of implementation.
Mr Mahlalela said that the Audit report on International Agreements would be distributed to the Committee, and whatever was done after the Audit Report would be distributed as well.
Mr Tau said that the budget and expenditure review highlighted the fact that bus subsidies had been allocated, and it would be useful for the Committee to know what the impact was of that grant in the provinces.
Mr Tau said, with regard to the integrated Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system, that the Western Cape was in the process of implementing Phase 1, but there were allegations of price escalations and the province and the municipality were seeking an intervention in this regard. There had not been feedback from the National Department of Transport on this matter. Mr Tau said that part of what the Committee was hoping to do was to cushion the Western Cape to ensure that the programme continued. It was hoped that the Department could provide information as to the implications of this on the fiscus, if it was going to make an intervention in the Western Cape.
Mr Tau asked the Department to provide a detailed progress report on its rural transport strategy, and the extent to which it was working.
Mr Mahlalela said that after the election, with the new administration in place, the issue of rural development had been prioritised, because, as could be seen in the Financial Report, the Department had pockets of projects. The Department was going to consolidate all the pockets of projects into one rural programme development process for transport. Some of these projects were actually pilots, to test some of the concepts, and a lot had been learnt from these pilots. The Department was planning to have an integrated rural development focus, which involved both infrustructure and services in rural areas.
Mr Tau asked if the Shova Kalula bicycle master plan was working for people in the rural areas, as the Annual Report only talked about the impact as far as the Province of Limpopo was concerned.
Mr Groenewald asked if there was any control over the 22 600 bicycles, as these bicycles were getting lost. In addition, if they were not being serviced they would be of no use and money would be wasted.
Ms Nchabaleng said that the intention of the introduction of the Shova Kalula Bicycle Master plan, which emanated from the Shova Kalula or non-motorised implementation strategy, was to ensure maximisation of current facilities with regard to the safety of provision. This strategy required the incorporation of integrated transportation planning. This was an area that was being addressed in municipalities and provinces, but the challenge had to do with the prioritisation of projects, as provinces and municipalities favoured different sectors in their approach, with a lesser regard for transport. There were specifications and criteria for the allocation and distribution of these bicycles. This criteria was jointly developed by the municipality and schools. Problems arose when provinces used different specifications which were not that durable or cost effective.
Mr Mahlalela said that the Shova Kalula project was one that the Department saw as becoming one of the most important projects. There was the need for some caution on monitoring this project, because this issue could not be separated from the social challenge of poverty in the community, and if a bicycle was given to a child to get that child to school, it tended to be used by the whole family. The Department did want to ensure control over this process, and prevent imbalances in family and community life. This problem emphasised the need for integrated rural development because the need of a child was extended to the needs of the rural community as a whole.
Mr Tau noted a statement made by the then-Minister of Transport in 2007/2008, during the budget vote debate, where he referred to key projects regarding the upgrading of the Noupoort Lane in the Northern Cape and the De Aar railway station. There were serious implications to upgrading this network, in terms of fighting poverty, job creation and skills development, as these had historically been instruments for keeping the people alive, and therefore Noupoort and railway stations should not be regarded as ghost towns. The Committee had not been given a sense of what was really happening. In addition, this was all linked to the critical issue of railway safety. In fact, the whole matter went wider than mere links to 2010, as the Annual Report of the Department implied. It was hoped that there was a plan beyond 2010 that could somehow re-prioritise the projects to focus beyond the World Cup.
Mr Manyungwana said that with regard to the De Aar issue, it had been agreed with Transnet, that the Kakamas NaKop Line would form part of the departmental branch line strategy, and would be addressed under the social agenda of the Department. However, in regard to doing something about the DeAar NaKop line, there were issues around the need to uplift the standard of people using that line. This issue had been captured in the new Transnet Infrastructure Plans, on the rail side.
Ms Nchabaleng said that with regard to the road network in Northern Cape, Noupoort and De Aar, the Department would provide consolidated reports from the province of the Northern Cape. There were provincial funds allocated to manage this process, in the form of discretionary funds. This issue was related to proper control of funds.
The Co-Chairperson asked for clarity on the three or four districts mentioned and the number of bicycles distributed, under the Shova Kalula programme, since the slides and the Annual Report mentioned two different figures.
Ms N Ngele (ANC) asked how many provinces were covered in this distribution process.
Ms Nchabaleng said that the Department had originally projected 36 100 bicycles to be delivered under this programme. 22 600 had been delivered. The balance had been distributed recently in Moyeshe. This was a diversion, because a pilot was happening there at the time. The remaining quantity would be finalised, as these bicycles had been shipped but were awaiting distribution to various schools.
Ms Ngele said that most of the children in rural areas had to cross rivers to go to school. She asked if the Department had built bridges to accommodate these children, because they had to travel long distances. The main road also needed a side track on the road from Queenstown to Umtata. Ms Ngele asked further if, at the end of February, Shova Kalula would also come to an end.
Ms Nchabaleng said that the Department would provide a report on the lower level bridges, and how many had been built to promote access. In regard to the Over-the-Way bridges, the grant needed to be utilised properly. The challenge was to update some of the information systems at these bridges. The Department was looking at a review of the overload control strategy as it facilitated and ensured sustainability and expansion of some of the Over-the-Way bridges. This was a new process that had just been established.
Mr P Poho (COPE) said that the taxi subsidy framework had been approved by Cabinet, and asked how far this had gone and how much funding was secured for implementation.
Mr Mahlalela said that the Department was still working on the taxi subsidy framework because this was a difficult issue. It was normally possible to monitor subsidies because there were timetables and schedules involved, but this was not possible with taxis as they did not have timetables and schedules. The Department was investigating models to support the taxi industry other than through subsidies.
Mr H Groenewald (DA) asked what the Department was going to do to uplift the bad condition of the roads in South Africa, especially in the rural areas. On the N14 between Ventersdorp and Krugersdorp, some roads had been closed for more than two years and were in a very poor condition, regardless of the fact that this was a national road. Millions of rands had also been spent on the N12, at Christiana and Warrenton, but this situation had not changed.
Ms Nchabaleng said that the Department would provide a status report regarding the N12 and the N14.
Mr Groenewald asked what the Department was going to do regarding the taxi recapitalisation programme. The budget had a cut off date of 2010. However, it seemed that this programme had not progressed even half way. He asked for how long it would carry on.
Mr Mahlalela said that the Taxi Recapitalisation Programme (TRP) had started in 2006 and would be in place for seven years. This programme would not be finished by 2013. A review was needed as to how to make interventions.
Mr Viljoen said that the budget for taxi recapitalisation for the scrapping of taxis, including this year and for the next three years, was R1.6 billion. The budget for operations, goods and services, paying the service providers, scrapping taxis, and training over next three years was R337 million. This was a baseline, and it was not intended that these allocations would be brought to an end, although the scrapping of the taxis did have a cut off date. When the targeted 100 000 taxis were scrapped, the budget would then be used, with the old bus subsidy, for what would be called a public transport subsidy.
Mr Groenewald said that in regard to rail transport, South Africa had infrastructure, but it was falling apart and people were stealing steel because there was no control.
Co Chairperson Mr Sibande asked for clarity about the issue of beacons.
Mr Anwar Gany, Chief Director: Aviation, DOT, said that the beacons were those used for aviation navigation. The concerns at Mpumalanga International airport were noted. The Department would investigate the issues.
Co-Chairperson Sibande asked for clarity regarding the request for additional funds for the Cross Border Road Transport Agency optimisation plans, that were declined by National Treasury.
Mr Viljoen said that National Treasury had declined the request for extra funding for the Cross Border Road Transport Agency, but no reasons were provided. When a request was not approved Treasury was not obliged to provide a reason.
Ms M Themba (ANC, Mpumalanga) asked for clarity regarding the criteria used to distribute the Shova Kalula bicycles to provinces, and asked if there was any training programme accompanying the handover to people using the bicycles.
Ms Nchabaleng said that training was provided for the use of the bicycles, through collaboration between learners and traffic officers. This was provided to learners on the day of issuance of the bicycles.
Ms Themba asked if there were any monitoring mechanisms in place for the rural transport strategy, and if a service provider had been appointed in Limpopo.
Mr Groenewald asked what the Department was going to do to uplift transport in the rural areas, as the buses used were in very bad condition and therefore very dangerous.
Ms Nchabaleng said that a detailed progress report regarding the rural transport implementation strategy had been provided. There had been a number of challenges with this project. It was a demonstration project, and the challenges experienced related, among other matters, to a Memorandum of Agreement with district municipalities and the transfer of funds. There was municipal land ownership and this process itself included a provincial residency, but the legal implications around the consultation compounded the delay, and the project did not deliver the result the Department wanted. Part of this money was shifted to Shova Kalula.
Ms Nchabaleng said that a detailed report of the results of the projects of rural transport, on the Rural Atlas Mapping, would be submitted to the Committee.
Ms Themba asked for a progress report on the Moloto Rail Development Corridor.
The Chairperson also asked how the Moloto Rail Development Corridor issue was being dealt with as many people had died, and why was progress so slow on this matter.
Mr Mahlalela said that the first phase of determining feasibility had been done. The next step was to set up the project management required to take the project forward and explore the technical side. An application for funding had been submitted to National Treasury and the Department was waiting for a response. There was no finality as to whether the project would go ahead. There were bigger debates at play, like that from National Treasury that suggested that rather than going for new infrastructure projects, existing ones should rather be improved. There was also a debate about where to focus in investment in public transport.
Ms Themba asked if the gender focal point was used to establish a gender balance in the Department, in line with the Gender Policy Framework.
Mr Jock said that the Department did have a gender focal point, and also had disability, youth and children focal points. There was a Directive that dealt with all four of these legs, and programmes were co-ordinated accordingly.
The following questions were raised but not directly answered::
Mr Mlenzana asked where Mount Ruth was, as it was mentioned in the Public Transport plans of Programme Six in the Annual Report.
Mr J Maake (ANC) asked for clarification regarding the issue of race representation as some races were over represented in the Department.
Mr Maake asked why the Department was seeking to appoint service providers to the amount of R6.6 million to advise and assist with final regulations, when there were State Lawyers and advocates who could fulfil this task.
Mr Poho asked which two cities had finished developing the Integrated Rapid Public Transport Network (IRPTN), what were the results of the process, seeing that 90% of the applications had been processed, what had happened to the others, and what were the deadlines.
The Department added to the general remarks made in response to questions.
Mr Jock said that the placement of students from the Centres of Development, was dependent on the entire “transport family”, and the Department of Transport had taken seven graduates last year. The Department was running out of space and so it could not take any more students. All the provincial transport and traffic departments, and Safety and Security departments, recruited interns from that list, and so did the eleven entities under the Department. The Department had a website to link with alumni, to ensure that there was some return on investment.
Mr Jock commented on the loss of staff from the Department. The main reasons were that 6.7% of staff moved to other government departments, and 4.6 % of staff moved to posts outside the public sector, and many of these posts had higher salaries. The salary dispensation for the Department, although it was in need of scarce and critical skills to do its work, meant that it could not offer the same salaries as elsewhere. In addition, some of the people the Department employed had had to have an education at Master's level. Departments now had to engage on Occupational Specific Dispensation (OSD) to retain people, and the DPSA had been engaged on this matter. DOT had registered three categories which would come up for negotiations. The fourth category, Specialised Law, had already been covered.
The Chairperson said that, as Mr Tau had indicated to the Department, the Committee did not take the issue of Imbizos lightly. The Committee undertook oversight, and could therefore ask any questions as Members were working on the ground in different areas. The Department had made promises and did not deliver. There had to be deadlines attached to the responses. The Chairperson also said that the issue of 'Acting' positions had to be corrected.
The meeting was adjourned.
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