The Road Traffic Management Corporation made a presentation about the relationship between the degrading road infrastructure and road crashes in South Africa. The main theme of the presentation related to road safety management, impact of inadequate road maintenance on safety and other factors that had a bearing on road safety. The agency acknowledged that the leading causes of road crashes in South Africa were human factors whilst poor road conditions were listed as the second leading cause of road.
The Committee asked questions relating to the accuracy of the statistics and decried the general shallowness of the presentation. There were also questions as to why the focus of the agency’s presentation was on road condition induced crashes whereas it was a known fact that human factors contributed more to road crashes statistics than any other factor.
The South African Roads Agency Limited made a presentation about the structure, condition, types and ownership of road networks in the country. Furthermore, the agency emphasised on the importance of road maintenance and pointed out that there was no backlog on the maintenance of roads. The agency also indicated it treasured the need for proper utilization of the little funds that had been allocated to the Department for the purposes of road infrastructure management and development.
The Committee asked various questions to clarify grey areas and made various suggestions on what the department could do to its capacity to collect data on road conditions.
The Department of Transport briefed the Committee on the Regulations for Public Transport during the 2010 World Cup. The Committee heard that these regulations were made by the Minister in terms of section 61 of the National Land Transport Act with the objective of regulating public transport services, promoting safety and quality of operation and catering for the needs of host cities during the 2010 Soccer World CUP. The Department told the Committee that these regulations were aimed at ensuring the smooth running and availability of public transport at any place in the duration of the world cup. The highlight of the regulations were the proposed authorization of the department to issue temporary public transport licences to courtesy vehicles to enable stakeholders in the tourism industry to transport their guests to various various places during the world cup period.
Members of the Committee raised concerns about the timing of the regulations and the fact that it was raising potentially contentious issues like the extension of public transport licences to courtesy vehicles. They also expressed serious doubt on whether the Department will have the capacity to fully implement these regulations to ensure provision of a flawless transport service during the World Cup.
Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC): Degrading Road Infrastructure and Road Crashes
Dr Hlengani Moyana, Senior Executive Manager: Traffic Engineering, Information and Research, RTMC, presented a report on the degrading road infrastructure and road crashes in South Africa. The main theme of the presentation related to road safety management, impact of inadequate road maintenance on safety and other factors that had a bearing on road safety. The leading causes of road crashes were human factors. The second leading cause of road crashes were road factors with the vehicle factors being the other cause. The presentation focused on road condition factors that had a bearing on road safety.
The Committee heard that the leading road factors that caused crashes were sharp bends, poor visibility, poor road surface, poor street lighting, slippery/wet roads, blind rise/corner, stray and wild animals, narrow and roads, and bad signs and markings.
The RTMC also briefed the Committee on the impact and cost of poor road maintenance. In this regard, the Committee heard that between the years 2004 and 2008 ,87616 road crashes occurred in South Africa and these resulted in 26 927 casualties and cost the country R9 910 million.
The RTMC pointed out that poor road environment contributed to about 17 per cent of the road crashes and costs the fiscus about R 2 billion annually. The RTMC also made various recommendations on what the Department of Transport (DoT or Department) could do to improve road infrastructure and reduce road crashes in the country. The highlights in that regard were as follows:
.The need to ring-fence funds for infrastructure assessment and maintenance
.The need to make it a legislative requirement for authorities to conduct regular infrastructure
.The need to identify hazardous locations by means of crash statistics and poor road conditions
to inform prioritisation of decisions., and
.The need to recognize traffic engineering and safety audit as scarce skills and establish a
bursary scheme to develop skills in these areas.
Mr S Farrow (DA) urged that issues of road accidents must be taken seriously. He further questioned the accuracy of the RTMCs statistics in so far as they related to the prevalence of poor road conditions inducing accidents in the country. It was incorrect for the agency to say that in Gauteng there was less road condition related crashes than anywhere else in the country when it was common knowledge that this province had a much shorter road network length and better road conditions than, say the Eastern Cape province. He asked the agency to justify the accuracy of its statistics.
Dr Hlengani Moyana replied that the entity was mindful of the problems with the accuracy of its statistics and had gone out of its way to develop an accident reporting system with the South Africa Police Service because it felt that data relating to road accidents must be captured in real time at entry points, being police stations across the country.
Mr M Freistas (DA) commented that the presentation by the RTMC was weak and shallow in many respects and that it emphasised on the exceptions rather than core issues. He pointed out that although the report mentioned that human factors were responsible for about 84 % of road crashes, the RTMC had glossed over these factors in its entire presentation. He further decried the fact that from 1998 there had been no coherent statistics in relation to roads management and maintenance and asked how the agency was relying on statistics that were not comparable with the rest of the world. He also wanted to know how the existing skilled personnel were being retained in the agency.
Dr Hlengani Moyana replied that although human factors were the leading cause in the accidents the presentation was on road infrastructure causes and hence there was no need to dwell on the subject.
Ms D Dlakude (ANC) asked what was being done by the law enforcers to reduce the human causes of road crashes. She also asked why was it that law enforcers did not work during night time and early hours of the morning when it was known that that was when most road crashes occured.
Dr Moyana replied that the agency was currently working in consultation with unions and the South African Police Service to ensure that law enforcement officials become part of essential services and hence be available at any time of the day.
Mr P Poho (COPE) asked how the country could have a responsible road user community if the entity was not investing in achieving such an objective through training or re-training the right personnel to fight road related offences and combating corruption that was rampant in the licensing department.
The Chairperson asked whether the agency was working together with municipalities in addressing issues of service delivery. She voiced concern that the fact that the presentation did not mention what they were doing to alleviate poverty.
Dr Moyana replied that the various accident report data capture terminals that the agency was putting across the country was creating employment opportunities and was therefore a way of alleviating poverty.
The Chairperson further asked for the reason why the issue of poverty alleviation was not at the core of the agency’s presentation.
Dr Moyana acknowledged the point that was being raised by the Chairperson but reminded the Committee that infrastructure development as opposed to social development was in the core of their presentation.
South African National Road Agency Limited (SANRAL): RSA Road Condition
Mr Nazir Alli, Chief Executive Officer, SANRAL, briefed the Committee on the structure of the road network and road conditions in the country. His presentation also touched on how issues around the environment and weather patterns affected road conditions. It was pointed out that SANRAL was tasked with the collection of information on road conditions through the country including provinces and metropolitan areas on behalf of the Department. The agency also briefed the Committee on the structure, types and ownership of road networks in the country. The Committee was also briefed on road design, lifespan and maintenance.
Further the agency emphasised on the importance of road maintenance and pointed out that there was no backlog on the maintenance of roads. Emphasis was also placed on the fact that the issue was not whether there was availability or not of funding to maintain or expand the road network, but how the little available money was being spent in road infrastructure management and development.
Heavily loaded vehicles were also highlighted as one of the chief causes of road degradation. The agency also mentioned that 80% of South Africa’s road network was older than their original 20 year design life. Delay in road maintenance usually cost the fiscus six times more than the average costs. Due to financial constraints, the agency saw it fit to maintain good roads and keep them from deteriorating than replacing poor roads or building new roads.
The agency further pointed out that the current budget allocation levels meant that the condition of the road network could not be sustained and suggested the following recommendations
.The need to increase budgets.
.The need to ensure that allocated budgets ends up on roads and not somewhere else.
.The need to ensure budgets are first allocated for preventive maintenance routine and periodic
and reconstruction and new construction.
.The needs to ensure budgets are allocated for condition and traffic assessment.
.The needs to ensure appropriate design standards are applied.
SANRAL disputed the Automobile Association’s (AAs) report that the entire South African road network was in poor condition and questioned their capacity to assess road conditions. Instead, the agency assured the Committee that it had enough capacity to carry such an exercise and its finding was that only 19 per cent of the road network was in poor condition as opposed to the 60 % which AA alleged was in poor condition.
In conclusion the agency said that the total length of road networks in South Africa amounted to 280 256 km’s.
Mr Farrow indicated that the statement that the agency had enough money was controversial bearing in mind that the same agency was hinting at borrowing money to deliver on its mandate. He also asked if there was any cheaper way of stabilising rural roads given the fact that rural people were heavily reliant on roads for trade.
Mr Alli replied that what was important was not whether there was money or no money for the road infrastructure, but how to manage the little money that was available. He bemoaned the fact that money for road infrastructure management was allocated to provinces of which the agency had no influence on how the money was utilised. He urged the Committee to consider moving a motion that provinces should allocate funding to the various road agencies. Such an allocation would make it easier for the agency to fully discharge its duties.
Mr N Duma (ANC) asked whether the road traffic agencies were working together when it came to planning and if so, whether the Department was in control of all of these. He also asked if there was a dedicated and alternative funding for the maintenance and expansion of roads.
In addition, he posed the following questions:
Did all the various road agencies and municipalities shared data on road management and infrastructure? To what extent were the two agencies (SANRAL and RTMC) working together to ensure that requisite skills were developed in municipalities? What was the Department was doing to source alternative funding for road management and maintenance? What institutions were there to develop those skills?
Mr Alli replied that the agency had informally approached National Treasury to consider extending the dedicated fuel levy fund to areas beyond Metropolitan areas as the former had limited capacity to raise money for road infrastructure development and management compared to the latter.
Mr Freistas asked for an explanation as to why the map that was presented to the Committee indicated that there were no gravel roads in Free State Province.
Mr Alli pointed out that the agency did not have information on the state of the gravel roads in the Free State Province as such information was not available. He undertook that SANRAL would make an effort to obtain this information as it was part of its mandate.
Ms Dlakude addressed several issues. Firstly, she asked what the legal tyre pressure of an overloaded vehicle was. Secondly, she questioned why poor rural people had to pay more to use roads than the rich truck owners. Thirdly, she asked why the toll gate prices always increased each year and how the toll fees money was being allocated. Finally, she examined why the agency did not adopt the better road designs in the northern hemisphere and apply them in South Africa.
Mr Alli pointed out that South African roads were well designed and constructed .He emphasised that all that was needed was proper and timeous maintenance of the roads. He stressed that overloaded vehicles should not be on the road and assured the Committee that the agency relied heavily on law enforcement agents in the provinces to assist in that regard. Otherwise the agency’s role was to provide physical civil infrastructure like cameras and maintain them in working order. The agency was also collaborating with the RTMC to tackle this problem. He added that he did not have information on the legally required tyre pressure but for design purposes the Department used 520KB.
Ms N Ngele (ANC) complained that there was no monitoring and maintenance of road fences to keep animals off the road. In addition, she lamented the Department’s failure to construct put steel bars on sharp bends to protect people and property from road crashes especially in small towns and rural areas.
Mr Alli replied that SANRAL had a mandate to collect data on road conditions. However, this task was made difficult because some provinces and Metropolitan areas did not provide the requisite data as regularly as possible. In terms of traffic volumes on the roads, the agency had permanent counters that enabled it to capture and produce traffic data regularly for future planning purposes. The problem that the Department faced in municipalities like Umtata was that of skills shortages. This was being attended through the right channels.
Mr N Gcwabaza (ANC) acknowledged that since 1994 there had been an improvement in the road network in South Africa and urged the agency to maintain the roads in good state. He urged the Department to put rails on sharp roads bends and to put up more road signs in the rural areas so as to make travelling easy. He asked what the Department was doing to raise public awareness about issues of road sign vandalism. He commended the agency’s attempt to improve the skills base especially in municipal areas. Lastly, he asked whether the agency had considered applying for funds from the national lottery to alleviate funding problems.
Mr Alli replied that the agency had put a lot of effort in skills development using the voluntary associations like the South African Road Federation and the South African Institute of Civil Engineers. The sourcing of alternative funding was a role for the public –private partnership unit in the National Treasury. The Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs had a number of initiatives to assist the municipalities through the Development Bank of Southern Africa in partnership with the South African Institute of Civil Engineers. He also indicated that the agency would consider approaching the National Lottery Board for funding.
Mr Poho asked how many Labour Intensive companies the agency was working with.
Mr Alli replied that the agency was doing everything it could do to create employment through its infrastructure development programme and this also helped out in skills development.
The Chairperson asked why there was a contradiction on the availability or otherwise of funding. She also decried the fact that the presentation did not mention what they were doing to alleviate poverty.
Mr Alli replied that the agency was indeed working with municipalities and other government agencies in addressing issues of service delivery.
The Chairperson asked what the meaning of un-proclaimed roads was.
Mr Alli explained that un-proclaimed roads were roads whose ownership was in dispute, for example those found in informal settlements.
The Chairperson asked whether SANRAL had any influence in the allocation of funds from the Transport Education and Training Authority.
Mr Alli replied those agencies had no influence in terms of expenditure.
The Chairperson expressed her displeasure at the current population size based formula for budget allocation and suggested that budget allocation must be based on infrastructural backlog. There was a need to re-open the debate on the budget allocation formula in Parliament. She also expressed her frustration on why the agency gave road maintenance priority over road expansion.
Mr Alli said that the agency’s priorities on road management and development depended on the availability of funds.
Government Gazette: Regulations on Public Transport for the 2010 FIFA WORLD CUP
Mr Hament Patel, Director: Policy, Strategy and Implementation, DoT, briefed the Committee on the Regulations for public transport during the 2010 World Cup. The Committee heard that these regulations were made by the Minister of Transport in terms of section 61 of the National Land Transport Act (NLTA) .The objective of the regulations were to regulate public transport services, promote safety and quality of operation and cater for the needs of host cities, based on operational plans during the world cup. These regulations were aimed at ensuring the smooth running and availability of public transport at any place in the duration of the World Cup.
The Committee heard that the Regulations were to be read with section 60 of NLTA in relation to special events. The general thrust of the Regulations was to prescribe those public transport operators who already held Operational Permits for the relevant route(s) or event area(s) did not require temporary licences. Only those public transport operators who held permits for other routes (non-event routes) required temporary Oprational Licences for the duration of the World Cup.
The applications for temporary licences had to be made in the usual way to the Operational Licence Board of the Province were the journey originates.
The highlight of the regulations were the proposed authorization of the Department to issue temporary public transport licences to courtesy vehicles to enable stakeholders in the tourism industry to transport their guests to various various places during the World Cup period.
The proposed Regulations stated that stakeholders who wanted to be licensed for provision of courtesy services during the World Cup must apply for an Operational licence if they wanted to operate 3 or more sedans or a minibus, midibus or bus. They could only register in terms of the regulations if they operated 1 or 2 sedans.
In addition the Regulations provide that cross-border operators needed a permit from the CBRTA.
The Committee was also briefed on the procedure and requirements for applying for a temporary operating licence in terms of the Regulations. Lastly the Department indicated that the RTMC was to provide countrywide training on the said Regulations and on the duties and functions of authorised officials.
Mr Farrow commented that the Department was well known for delays in issuing licences and asked how effective these regulations would be in an environment were it took a lengthy time to procure a licence. He also asked how the Department was going register new buses that had being purchased specifically for the World Cup in the light of the fact that it was a nightmare to procure a licence. It was unfortunate that the courtesy vehicle licensing process was going to cause tension in the industry.
Mr Patel acknowledged that the licensing capacity of the Department was poor and assured the Committee that it had sought to improve the situation by creating the National, Provincial and Municipal regulatory authorities to speed up and spread out the licensing process. All stakeholders who intended to procure buses for the World Cup had already been advised to apply for their licences in advance
Mr Freistas asked how the RTMC going to educate people on these regulations and also voiced his concern about the Department’s bureaucratic tendencies when it came to licensing motor vehicles. He believed that there were going to be many taxis operating illegally during the event, owing to the Department’s incapacity to handle the licensing process. He further complained that the time frame within which the Department intended to implement the regulations was too short.
Mr Patel replied that the RTMC had the capacity to deliver the necessary education and awareness programmes on the application of the regulations. The late crafting and implementation of the regulations was caused by the fact that there was not enough funding to set up the National Regulatory Authority and create the national public transport information system.
Ms Dlakula also stressed on the fact that the Department had no capacity to licence all the motor vehicles that were eligible for use as public transport during the World Cup, noting that this was going to result in many of them operating illegally. She also asked about the measures that the Department had put in place to address the current wave of taxi violence in the country. Lastly she asked about measures the Department had put in place to make sure that passengers would not be strained in the event of the taxi operators going on strike during the World Cup.
Mr Patel replied that the temporary licensing system for the FIFA World Cup was a far less complicated and speedier process that the normal licensing procedure. For operators who already had existing licences, this process was far much easier and faster as what was required for the normal licensing process.
Mr Duma commented that the Department’s decision to licence courtesy services to operate as public transport during the World Cup was going to generate the same amount of controversy as the Bus Rapid Transport System did. There are already too many taxis fighting for routes in the industry for the Department to widen its licensing system to cover courtesy vehicles.
The Chairperson pointed out that the Committee was more concerned with ensuring that there would not be any disruptions during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. She decried that there was too short a time left to roll out the temporary licensing programme to the interested parties more so that these regulations insisted on prospective operators having to procure a taxi clearance certificate first before being licensed. She agreed with the other speakers that the introduction of the courtesy vehicles in the taxi industry for the World Cup purposes was going to cause tension with the existing taxi operators.
Mr Patel assured the Committee that the taxi industry was fully aware of the new temporary regulatory measures being put in place and that they were making more efforts to keep them abreast of what was happening.
All the Members registered their displeasure about the extension of licensing to courtesy vehicles and the timing of the regulations. They also generally agreed that the Department had provided scanty and unsatisfactory information on the issue of whether they had consulted the taxi industry on the implementation and implications of the regulations.
The Chairperson suggested that the meeting be adjourned to a future date to enable the Department to shed more light on the issues raised by the Committee.
The meeting was adjourned.
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