Transport Portfolio Committee: First-Term Programme

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22 February 2010
Chairperson: Ms N Bhengu (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Chairperson explained to the Committee the programme for the first term. Members agreed to have a workshop with the Department of Transport. They also agreed that the Committee’s main priority was to deal with issues pertaining to the World Cup. Two main issues were raised. The first issue was that of the lack of jet fuel in the country. It was suggested that one pipeline be dedicated for that purpose for the duration of the World Cup. The second issue which was raised was to ensure that all provinces were ready for the World Cup in terms of transport especially since the World Cup would be arriving soon. The programme was agreed to wit amendments.

Members then discussed the study tour. The study tour was seen as a way to solve the bone of contention between the Department of Transport and Transnet. Both agreed that South Africa’s railway infrastructure needed to be rehabilitated and upgraded, the disagreement however was how and where to upgrade and rehabilitated the railway infrastructure. It was then decided that a study tour be undertaken. That would in turn solve two problems. The one problem that it would solve was that the Committee could then be empowered to engage in the debate based on the knowledge they had acquired. The second problem which would be solved was that by looking at the international methods and standards of railway infrastructure, South Africa’s rail infrastructure could benefit a great deal.

Meeting report

First-term Programme
The Chairperson informed Members that the agenda for the meeting was to consider the proposed programme for the first-term. The programme did not incorporate the resolutions that were taken in 2009. As a result, the Committee Secretary was asked to retrieve all the minutes for the previous year to identify the resolutions that needed to be followed up. These resolutions were now included in the programme and would highlight what was discussed and what decisions were reached.

What they proposed in terms of the programme was to have a planning workshop with the Department of Transport, where the Department would outline its programme of action for the year. The Committee needed to agree when to have the workshop. 2 March 2010 had been provisionally set aside for the workshop.

Mr S Farrow (DA) maintained that the Committee’s priority should be the Department’s readiness for the 2010 World Cup. This meant that the problems relating to fuel shortage at the airports and operating licensers for buses needed to be tackled urgently. The Department needed to inform the Committee about the regulations the Minister of Transport had put in force in December. Thereafter, the Committee could make sure that all the provinces were ready in terms of the World Cup. It was crucial to make sure that the Committee and the Department were ready for the World Cup. They could then deal with other issues afterward. He proposed that the Committee should adopt the programme

The Chairperson noted that the the Deputy Minister of Transport had briefed the Committee on the no-fault policy. No decision had been reached on this and the policy had been advertised for comment. On the same day, the Committee had held a meeting that involved three Portfolio Committees- the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprise because Transnet reported directly to them, the Portfolio Committee on Economic Development because whatever a public entity did related directly to the economic development of the country and the Portfolio Committee on Transport because Transnet, by its nature, related to transport issues. It was discovered that what was being produced by Transnet as the 2050 plan contradicted with what had been presented to the Committee and the Department. The Department and Transnet had agreed that the railway infrastructure needed to be rehabilitated and upgraded but they differed on how it should be done. That was where the bone of contention was. This disagreement necessitated that the Committee investigate this further and conduct a study tour so that Members could look at what was happening at an international level in relation to railway infrastructure. It would then empower the Committee to engage in the debate in relation to the two contradictory opinions from Transnet and the Department.

The Chairperson noted that the Committee was scheduled to meet with the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) and the Department about their state of readiness for 2010. This engagement was important because there were media reports that suggested that there was collusion between airline companies. Last year, a high number of flights were cancelled. As a result of that, the Committee was forced to engage with ACSA to find out why this was the case. ACSA informed the Committee that the crisis was caused by the shortage of fuel at the airports. A Joint Committee on Energy and Transport met with ACSA, the Department and the Department of Energy so that they could have an in depth understanding of what the problem was.

According to ACSA, there had been a shortage of storage of fuel in the country. For the jet fuel to get in the pipe, the pipe needed to be cleaned first because if the pipe had been transporting diesel or petrol the jet fuel could not immediately be put into the pipe. That was what caused the delay. The Department highlighted that as much as that was seen as an energy problem, it was actually a two way problem. It was a problem that related to the transportation of fuel which was the responsibility of the Department and Transnet but it also related to the fact that the jet fuel came from outside of South Africa. The Chairperson also said that they were worried because 2010 was approaching and they wanted to know whether there was an adequate plan to deal with the volume of airlines that would be moving around South Africa during the World Cup.

Mr Farrow expressed concern that 76 additional tankers were still needed. That was why there needed to be an interaction with Transnet to see when the fuel would get to the depo and from the depo to the airport. That was very important.

Mr E Lucas (IFP) suggested that as a solution a dedicated pipeline for the jet fuel be used during the World Cup.

Mr Farrow said that that was a suggestion which they needed to raise in the appropriate meeting.

The Chairperson referred back to proposed programme and said that she had initially thought they could do an eight day study tour, but due to the time constraints, the Committee would have to be divided into two teams, the one team would then do the study tour and the other would do the oversight visits. The study tour would have an added advantage because by looking at the international methods and standards of railway infrastructure, South Africa’s rail infrastructure could benefit a great deal.

The Chairperson then asked whether Members approved the programme.

Members approved the programme with all the necessary amendments.

The programme was adopted with amendments.


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