The Department of Transport was not present but Committee members held a discussion on the challenges around the state of readiness for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, with a view to producing a checklist that could be used as a focal point during the Committee’s oversight visit to the provinces. The Committee made the point that in order to reach a balanced oversight report, they needed to travel as tourists would. They stressed that appropriate logistical coordination at airports on arrival was imperative. There was concern about the country’s signage on the roads, which would be vital to those tourists who would not be using public transport, but would be using their own transport. The Committee was also concerned about the entry and exit points at stadiums. They made reference to the Confederations Cup, and stressed that they would not like to see a recurrence of the situation at Ellis Park. Colour coded busses and tickets were suggested. The Committee needed to talk to the Johannesburg and Tshwane metropolitans, as it seemed as they had been planning in isolation. Great concern was displayed about congestion at the stadiums.
The Committee noted that it must check with the traffic departments with regard to their own state of readiness to alleviate congestion on the roads. Whilst facilitation for fans’ and visitors’ traffic was required, local road users should not be antagonised. Concerns were also raised that most transport did not cater to the needs of disabled people. Other concerns pertained to the infrastructure of roads, entry and exit lanes at airports, and the road leading to the new airport in Durban. It was noted that the Minister of Transport, Mr Sbusiso Ndebele, had convened a meeting the previous day in Johannesburg, when provincial representatives from taxi association SANTACO had been present. Minister Ndebele had wanted to establish task teams within the provinces to agree on the routes that would be used by taxis, as well as the number of taxis that would utilise those routes. The task teams would also identify the various pick up and drop off points. Although there had been agreements reached at the meeting, it was of great concern that a radio broadcast by a representative of SANTACO on the following day had indicated that nothing substantial had been achieved by this meeting. Suggestions were made that a media conference should be convened directly after any future meetings to obviate this difficulty. Members also noted that civil society should have been, but was not, represented at this meeting. Members noted that prior to the commencement of the World Cup, information brochures would be made available to the public. Members agreed that there was a need to sort out the question of routes as a matter of urgency, to avoid problems with crossing of routes and violence erupting, although other Members pointed out that the amount of available business probably meant that the taxi associations would put their differences aside for the duration of the World Cup. The issues should be resolved. Members further concerns related to the roadworthiness of taxis, and safety of passengers. It was noted that the challenges would be raised during meetings with the provinces and local government structures. The Minutes of this meeting would serve as a useful guide during the meetings.
Members agreed that the recent workshop had been most useful and requested that another be held mid-year, when hopefully the Director–General of the Department of Transport would be able to attend all sessions.
2010 Soccer World Cup: State of readiness
The Chairperson noted that the Department of Transport would not be present at this meeting. She asked that Committee Members must engage on the state of readiness of the transport sector for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The objective of the meeting was to identify challenges and make a checklist which would be used as a focal point during the Committee’s oversight visit to the provinces.
Mr M De Freitas (DA) wanted clarity as to whether the Committee was going to visit all the stadiums throughout the country during Members’ oversight visits. He displayed concern about taxi authorities and organisations and said that it was vital for peoples’ fears in that regard to be allayed.
Mr De Freitas requested that officials draw up a logical route of travel that would achieve the most, in the most cost-effective manner, for Committee Members to use during oversight.
Mr S Farrow (DA) believed that in order to get an accurate impression and to give a balanced oversight report, the Members needed to travel exactly as the tourists would. He noted that appropriate logistics at airports, when travelers arrived, were imperative. There had to be sufficient space for taxis, courtesy vehicles, buses and all types of conveyances and transport modes to be in a position to access their clients, and also to be able to get the clients to their relevant accommodation. He added that the hotels also needed adequate facilities to get fans to the stadiums. There had to be access not only from the airport to the stadiums, but from hotels to stadiums. He said that it was necessary to ensure that every airport had a coordinating facility, to call on the relevant coach. He said that each of the buses, taxis or metered taxis would be given an opportunity to operate a temporary World Cup permit, which would be an operating licensing requirement.
Mr Farrow was concerned about the country’s signage on the roads, which was vital for those tourists who would not be using public transport, but their own transport to travel from one place to another.
Mr Farrow was also concerned about the entry and exit points at stadiums. He made reference to the Confederations Cup and added that he did not want a recurrence of the situation at Ellis Park. He suggested colour coded buses and tickets. Mr Farrow said that the Committee needed to talk to the Johannesburg and Tshwane metros, as it seemed as they had been planning in isolation. He displayed great concern about congestion at the stadiums, and said that there would be a huge problem if the issues were not put right.
Ms N Hangana (ANC) said that she was concerned about transport facilities for people with disabilities. She was concerned that most /forms of transport were not disabled-friendly. With regards to road infrastructure, Ms Hangana said that the Committee needed to identify central projects so that they could see if there was sufficient coordination.
Mr E Lucas (IFP) was greatly concerned about the road to the new airport to Durban, which was poor. He was also concerned about the entry and exit lanes at airports, and said that the Committee would need to check on that during the oversight visit.
Mr N Gcwabaza (ANC) said that the Committee needed to check with the traffic departments’ state of readiness, to ease congestion on the roads. He said that the facilitation for traffic for fans and visitors was necessary, but that local road users should not be antagonised.
Mr Lucas said that the Committee must make sure that the traffic industry and government were working in unison. He noted that a single accident on the road into Cape Town had the potential to halt the entire traffic flow going into the Central Business District (CBD).
Mr Lucas had grave concerns about the taxi industry, saying that if taxis decided to stop business, the country would be in serious trouble. He emphasised the importance of following up with this regard and stressed that a conclusion needed to be reached before the tournament.
The Chairperson said that the Minister of Transport, Hon Sbusiso Ndebele, had convened a meeting the previous day in Johannesburg, and that she had been present. Provincial representatives from the taxi association SANTACO had been present at the meeting. Minister Ndebele had wanted to establish task teams within the provinces to agree on the routes that would be used by taxis, as well as the number of taxis that would utilise those routes. The task teams would also identify the various pick up and drop off points. The Chairperson said that during the meeting, it was confirmed that prior to commencement of the World Cup an information pamphlet would be made available to the public. She said that although it had not been developed yet, if was definitely agreed on by members present at the meeting, and that the taxi industry was able to submit two names at national level in relation to the identification of a task team.
The Chairperson was concerned that a forum broadcasted by the radio station SAFM had aired a SANTACO representative who had said that nothing had been achieved in the meeting with Minister Ndebele. She said this had been a misrepresentation, and that there had been an agreement between SANTACO and the Ministry around the establishment of a task team, the identification of routes and the development of the pamphlet.
Mr De Freitas wanted to know why SANTACO was saying something different on a public radio show. He said that the matter needed further investigation. Whilst it would be unproductive to start attacking SANTACO, the issue needed to be addressed amicably, as it would otherwise have dire consequences for the World Cup.
Mr Lucas said that was concerned about the taxi strike that morning in Cape Town. He said that it was taking place very close to the World Cup, and it was a major cause for concern.
Ms N Ngele (ANC) said that she had heard the discussion on radio SAFM that morning and that it was frightening that the SANTACO representative could say that nothing had been achieved in the meeting on the previous day. She was concerned as to why SANTACO would change their minds so quickly.
The Chairperson said that Minister Ndebele needed to devise some strategy of holding a press conference immediately after the meeting, and not have interviews aired the day after meetings, when the Minister might be at one location and SANTACO at another. She said that if the media had been in that specific meeting, there would not have been a contradictory statement. She reiterated that the meeting between the taxi industry and the Ministry had achieved something, and that the taxi industry had been pleased to have been invited by the Minister to address its challenges and concerns.
Mr Farrow said that said that he had noted the indecisive nature of SANTACO during debates that had been held over the previous few weeks. He said that when the Committee met with SANTACO it had threatened d to make the World Cup ungovernable if it was not included. The Department of Transport had indicated clearly that it had met with SANTACO but the latter denied that the meetings had taken place. Mr Farrow said that there seemed to be something wrong with the representation. SANTACO had said that it had undergone new elections and that the new election would bring in new representation. He added that he did not think that the leadership of SANTACO had changed much over the years. It was of concern that this group said one thing on one day and something different the next.
Mr Farrow wanted to know if civil society had been represented at the meeting with Minister Ndebele the day before in Johannesburg, as in terms of a mandate given to the working group, they should be represented.
Mr Farrow was concerned about the people who were affected by the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) routes and said that, with less than 80 days to go to the World Cup, the taxi challenges needed to be addressed in order to prevent chaos. Mr Farrow also expressed his concern about the issue of operating license boards. He said that if, for example, a metered taxi was asked to provide transport for a foreigner to Green Point Stadium, it would cross over an existing and allocated route licensed for a particular taxi group, and that it would cause a problem. He noted that this could even involve people firing at each other, or other violence, and that it was of paramount importance to finalise permission and mechanisms, to state who could convey passengers to which places, during the World Cup. This would apply to courtesy vehicles, taxis, buses and charters. Mr Farrow asked who would be the correct body to speak to with regard to the specific zones and permits. He was concerned that SANTACO were supported by or opposed by other associations.
The Chairperson responded that civil society had not been represented in the meeting with the Minister. The issue of permits had been discussed in that meeting. A presentation was given regarding what was happening in the nine host cities and where the base camps, stadiums and airports were situated.
The Chairperson agreed that the involvement of the taxi industry was indeed a great challenge, as there were many power struggles within the structures. SANTACO was not affiliated to the National Taxi Alliance (NTA), who had control within the Western Cape. She said that the strike in Cape Town was called by the NTA. The Chairperson said that at municipal level, each city would have to interact with the structure that was in control of the taxi industry in that city. She said that it was impossible to change the taxi culture in 79 days. All that could be done was to ensure the adequate dissemination of information. The Chairperson said that soccer was one of the most popular sporting codes and that a huge influx of work would become available to the taxi industry during the World Cup. She said that maybe the taxi industry would not have the time to fight if there was so much work to do during the World Cup. She hastened to add that this did not mean that caution was not needed.
Mr Farrow said that he agreed to a certain extent but that he did not want “organised chaos”. Supply and demand dictated how many taxis would be utilised and how many people would be transported. He maintained that there should be a code of ethics to ensure that everybody transporting people made an arrangement, and so that taxis were not cutting across lanes and congesting areas. In regard to buses, there was already an agreement with FIFA.
Mr Gcwabaza agreed with the Chairperson that he did not think that the taxi industry would find the time to pick up guns and fight and block the streets, when there would be so many people to convey. However, he agreed that it was necessary to ensure that permits were in place and that people were operating legally and in terms of FIFA requirements. The pick up and drop off points must be clearly demarcated. The security agencies would also play an important role with regards to safety.
Mr P Poho (COPE) said that there had to be a way of communicating with SANTACO. He said that the Department did not seem to be taking the taxi industry matters seriously enough, even though there had been a concerted effort by the Ministry. Mr Poho said that SANTACO was not seen as “big brother” by the NTA, as the NTA deemed itself to be on the same level. The reason for the strike in Cape Town was that the NTA felt excluded from the discussions. He stressed that there had to be a way of engaging with the NTA.
Mr Farrow was concerned about the safety of the people using the taxis, and whether they were roadworthy. One of the conditions of getting a permit to operate during the World Cup was that the taxi needed to be registered and compliant. He did not know what the time frame was, but said that there were many taxis throughout the provinces that should not be on the road. Mr Farrow wanted to know how to ensure that the taxis transporting foreigners were going to be safe.
The Chairperson said that the challenges and issues raised at the meeting would be addressed when the Committee met with the provinces and their local government structures. Just as this Committee was discussing the challenges, so were the provinces and the local government structures at the stadium cities. She said that the Committee, during its oversight, must be mindful of these structures who were engaging in all spheres and at ground level.
The Chairperson said that the issue of safety had been raised with the Department of Transport during their workshop. She said that when the Members went on oversight they should take the minutes of the present meeting and use them as a guide, so that they remained focused.
The Chairperson thanked members for attending the past workshop. She noted that it was a very thorough and well-attended workshop with plenty of information that the Committee could use in the Budget Vote debate. She had enjoyed meeting with the Department of Transport and the agencies.
Mr De Freitas said that the workshop had been a very fruitful exercise and that the Department of Transport had been very candid about its challenges. This workshop had paved the way forward for the Committee. He suggested that that another two-day workshop be held in the middle of the year, with the Director-General present.
Mr Farrow agreed that the workshop had been very insightful. He agreed that the Committee should ensure that the Director General was able to remain present for the full session on the next occasion.
Mr Farrow noted that the Road Traffic Management Corporation needed to be discussed by the Committee.
The meeting was adjourned.
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