National Railway Safety Regulator Bill: deliberations

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Transport

13 March 2002
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

TRANSPORT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
13 March 2002
NATIONAL RAILWAY SAFETY REGULATOR BILL: DELIBERATIONS

Chairperson:
Mr J Cronin

Documents handed out:
National Railway Safety Regulator Bill
Amendments agreed to: National Railway Safety Regulator Bill (document awaited; please email info@pmg.org.za)

SUMMARY
All the amendments proposed were agreed too. Some minor additions were made with regard to railway occurrences and whether this should include criminal activities or not. It was agreed that the process towards the finalisation of the Bill has been very thorough.

Various members did express their concern that despite the Bill the railway system still did not adequately address the safety of the commuters.

MINUTES
The purpose of this meeting was to finalise amendments to the Bill, which would be debated the following Monday. The proposed amendments were discussed chapter by chapter.

Chapter One - Definitions and Interpretation
The discussion began with Clause 1 (xx) dealing with safety and security issues on the railways. There was a need to clarify what exactly "safety and security" meant in this context.

Mr JH Slabbert (IFP) mentioned that he was unhappy as the Bill did not adequately address the safety of commuters.

The Chairperson responded that there had been substantial debate as to whether the Bill should include a Clause that allowed for the establishment of a special police force to deal with safety issues on the railways. He said that this was not feasible due to the already excessive demands on the police. He recommended instead a form of cooperative governance where systems would be put in place so safety for all commuters could be guaranteed.

Mr JJ Niemann (NNP) added that the trust of commuters would never be restored unless the criminal element on the railways was minimised. He felt that at some stage the police would have to be brought in.

The Chairperson again responded that the police force was over worked and people who understood the system were needed. Police would deal with criminal syndicates involved with copper theft and so forth.

Mr S Pillay (DP) asked for the issue of criminality to be clarified using a practical example. He mentioned the theft of copper wire and asked who would tackle this issue. How could Committee Members could be sure that something was actually being done?

The Chairperson responded that in the case of copper theft it would probably be the police, but in many cases investigations between various bodies would run parallel. The ultimate goal of the Bill was to provide a safe and effective railway service.

The committee decided to adopt the changes as outlined in the amended draft of the Bill.

All the amendments up to and including Chapter Seven were agreed to by the Committee.

Chapter Eight-Monitoring, Assessment and Information
Mr Farrow (DP) contested aspects of the chapter. He suggested that in Clause 40 (2)(b), dealing with railway occurrences, the phrase "criminal activity" be included as a possible railway occurrence.

Mr Ainslie (ANC) said that by definition "railway occurrences" included things like criminal activities and therefore the proposed amendment by Mr Farrow need not necessarily be added.

Despite Mr Ainslie's objection it was agreed that the phrase "criminal activity" would be added as a possible railway occurrence.

The amendments from the remainder of the Bill were all agreed to without reservation.

The Chairperson then announced that the amendments would be run though page-by-page in a more formal manner to ensure that all Members agreed to the changes.

The motion of desirability was read, outlining the purpose of the legislation.

Mr Cronin made it clear to the Committee, at the urgent appeal of Mr Slabbert, that the amended draft Bill would be available by Friday so that it could be formally debated in the House on Monday.

The meeting was then adjourned.

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