The Department of Transport briefed Members on progress with Scholar Transport. The Department had consolidated the Portfolio Committee’s inputs (14 September 2010) in a draft policy document. Meetings and discussions with the Department of Basic Education had taken place and were still ongoing. The HEADCOM of the Department of Basic Education had recommended that the scholar transport function should be transferred from Education to Transport. The scholar transport migration plan had been developed. The Department outlined the status quo and challenges: the function currently resided with both Departments of Basic Education and Transport; some provinces were in the process of migrating functions from provincial departments of education to provincial departments of transport; ensuring safe transportation of scholars to and from school; insufficient budgetary allocations; and monitoring of scholar transport services provided by contracted service providers, which remained a key policy issue due to lack of capacity. The Department outlined funding and the currently fragmented regulatory framework for scholar transport. The Department outlined the basic steps, including route verification and design, for the scholar transport migration plan. The way forward included establishing the steering and technical committees to manage migration of scholar transport, the development of short term intervention plans and mechanisms, the development and implementation of a national scholar transport database, the identification of subsidy mechanism, the development of provincial implementation plans and strategies, and the development and amendment of legislation.
The Department of Transport briefed Members on the policy thrust of non-motorised transport, the problem statement, achievements, bicycle manufacturing and value chain, steps towards establishment of a local bicycle manufacturing plant with job opportunities, enterprise development and skills transfer, and sustaining the Shova Kalula Project, launched in 2001. This project aimed to improve the mobility of South Africans through promoting bicycle transport use, especially amongst the most disadvantaged who currently had to walk long distances to get to school and work. The policy thrusts of Shova Kalula included facilitating spatial development and land use patterns through effective utilisation of non-motorised transport as a catalyst to address the second and first economy. The problem statement was that in
Members observed that the
The Chairperson was perturbed that eight years after the report of 2003 on the national public transport survey, the Department was still at the stage of identifying the problem. The public transport survey had highlighted the unsafe public transport system and the long distances travelled by commuters, including schoolchildren. Why did it take the Department eight years to produce an appropriate intervention?
From her perspective of a background in community development, there were a number of departments that should be part of Shova Kalula Project, if indeed one had learnt anything from the 2010 projects. The Department of Transport did not have the responsibility of acquisition of land for bicycle manufacturing plants. It could, however, collaborate with the district municipality concerned in terms of the Presidential Poverty Nodal Points by way of a regional planning approach. The Chairperson emphasised the importance of creating demand for bicycles, an issue which the Department had stressed; she saw the potential for collaborating with the Department of Sports and Recreation, in relation to that Department's promotion of cycling as one of the sporting codes and mass participation sports. The Chairperson advised the Department to identify other key departments that were important in making the scholar transport plan and the Shova Kalula plan successful, and emphasised the complementary role that key departments should play in the projects, but led by the Department of Transport.
The Financial and Fiscal Commission said that it was important to protect the money put into this intervention and ensure that one obtained the correct baseline for it, since the baseline was currently out of alignment with the programme's requirements. The Commission was willing to second someone to the technical team.
The Chairperson asked the Department to prepare an improved intervention on scholar transport, which would take account of not only the manufacturing and maintenance of bicycles but also the manufacturing of vehicles – buses or minibuses - for scholar transport, and scheduled the follow-up briefing for 14 June 2011.
The Chairperson welcomed Members and delegates, and said that this was the Committee's second interaction with the Department on scholar transport. On the previous occasion (14 September 2010), the Committee's focus had been policy and progress thereto. The Committee had been dissatisfied with the Department's progress in finalising the policy. The Chairperson emphasised
Scholar Transport: Department of Transport briefing
Mr George Mahlalela, Director-General, Department of Transport, briefed Members on progress. There had been consultations with stakeholders in
Mr Mahlalela outlined the status quo on scholar transport functions. The function was managed by the Provincial Department of Transport in
The provinces of
Challenges in scholar transport
The function currently resided with both Departments of Basic Education and Transport respectively. Some provinces were in the process of migrating functions from provincial departments of education to provincial departments of transport. Ensuring safe transportation of scholars to and from school was a challenge, together with insufficient budgetary allocations. Monitoring of scholar transport services provided by contracted service providers remained a key policy issue due to lack of capacity.
Mr Mahlalela outlined funding (table Funding 2009/10, slide 8).
The regulation of scholar transport
The regulatory framework for scholar transport was fragmented. It was currently done through various legislation and policies such as the National of Road Traffic Act of 1996 and National Land Transport Act of 2009 and the White Paper on National Transport Policy of 1996. Current draft policy pronounced on the need for a uniform legislation and policy framework on scholar transport. The role of the Department of Transport (DOT) was to provide national policy and guidelines in scholar transport and provinces to implement according to their specific environments. Scholar transport contracts were designed by both Departments of Transport and Education. Current scholar transport contracts were done through procurement legislation and draft policy prescribed that procurement of service to be in line with legislation and policies promoting small and medium enterprises (SMMEs) and broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE). Awarding and management of scholar transport contracts was implemented at a provincial level. Draft policy provided that all scholar transport service providers must have operating licenses and contract duration must be similar to stipulations of Model Tender Contract document.
Scholar Transport migration plan: basic steps
1. Submission to the Executive Council about rationale for migrating scholar transport functions to Department of Transport (DoT).
2. Development of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between DoT and DoBE about the management of transfer process.
3. Establishment of Steering Committee comprising of DoT and DoBE executive and senior management
4. Establishment of Technical Committee to manage operations issues of transfer process.
5. Identification of needs to ascertain scholar transport needs.
6. Route verification and design.
Scholar Transport migration plan: Cabinet memorandum
1. Draft cabinet memo
2. Issues to be considered: an analysis of the relevant government legislation and policies mandating the Department of Transport to execute scholar transport functions; budgetary implications; human resources implications; the number of scholars; roadworthiness and passenger liability, etc.
3. Submit cabinet memo to the Executive Council.
Scholar Transport migration plan: Memorandum of understanding
A memorandum of understanding must be drafted to guide officials from the two departments regarding the administration of the function during the migration process.
Issues to be considered were the responsibilities of the two departments; joint team, reporting and inspections; and monitoring of service performance.
Scholar Transport migration plan: Establishment of steering committee
A steering committee comprising of senior management of both national departments of Transport and Basic Education would be established.
The major function would be to deal with major strategic decisions, inter alia: budget, additional funding, etc.
Scholar Transport migration plan: Establishment of a technical committee
A technical committee comprising of officials from both departments would deal with the day to day functions of scholar transport.
The major function would be to deal with major operational issues and would also include drafting of an action plan through a service provider because of huge amount of work involved.
The action plan would need to focus on the following issues: establishment of Scholar Transport Capacity (dedicated sections); transfer of budget for scholar transport from the provincial department of education (PDOE) to the provincial department of transport (PDOT); and drafting a realistic budget for scholar transport for submission to the provincial treasury.
Scholar Transport migration plan: Status quo analysis
1. Immediate capacity to conduct independent assessment of current contracts.
2. Conduct a status quo analysis study.
This exercise entailed understanding the status quo regarding operators that were engaged by DOE whether on ad-hoc basis, six months contracts, etc. This would include a thorough investigation into the following: procurement procedures as at the time of securing the services; and application of Supply Chain Management systems and procedures and Public Finance Management Act (PFMA);
It was necessary to give consideration to the payment of services that had no uniformity, that is, per scholar and per kilometre, etc; the eligibility of beneficiaries; and the qualification of preferred operators in terms of the model tender document, including, amongst others, the vehicle type /mode.
3. Route designs.
The purpose of the exercise was to determine the number of scholars walking too long distances from their respective homes to their schools and back.
The outcome would inform the Department of: the class (mode) of vehicles appropriate for use per route; the number of routes and scholars; and the cost envisaged for budgetary purposes.
1. Migration of scholar transport functions from DOBE to DOT.
2. Establishment of Steering and Technical Committees to manage migration of scholar transport.
3. Development of short term intervention plans and mechanisms.
4. Transport Portfolio Committee would engage Basic Education Portfolio Committee on the matter.
5. Adoption and implementation of scholar transport policy.
6. Implementation of institutional arrangements.
7. Development and implementation of a national scholar transport database.
8. Formalisation of scholar transport industry.
9. Identification of subsidy mechanism.
10. Development of provincial implementation plans and strategies.
11. Development and amendment of legislation.
Sustainable low cost mobility solution through non-motorised transport: DOT briefing
Ms Angeline Nchabeleng, DOT Chief Director: Integrated Delivery Program, outlined the policy thrust of non-motorised transport (NMT), the problem statement, also coming to a common understanding and acknowledgement of the challenges, achievements since the inception of the project in 2001, bicycle manufacturing plant and the value chain. These would also touch on the establishment of a local bicycle manufacturing industry, unpacking job opportunities, enterprise development and skills transfer, and how best to sustain the Shova Kalula (SK) Project, a project ed to improve the mobility of South Africans through promoting bicycle transport use, especially amongst the most disadvantaged who currently had to walk long distances to get to school and work.
Ms Nchabeleng commented that its theme was how best to sustain this intervention which was deemed as a low-cost solution for transport. It was important to emphasise the policy thrust, since it was close to the Chairperson's heart that we took people out of dependency on social welfare grants. For us to remove this legacy of dependence, it was necessary to have an integrated social development agenda. For this it was necessary to have a foundation of sustainability which was self-sustaining based on the local economies and activities, especially in under-developed areas.
The policy thrusts of SK were towards implementing this integrated developmental agenda which further addressed the divide of the first and second economy; to facilitate spatial development and land use pattern through effective utilisation of NMT as a catalyst to address the second and first economy; and develop demand responsive, balanced and sustainable transportation services and infrastructure which was fully integrated and supportive to human settlements.
The problem statement was that in
Labour intensive methods led to job creation, as illustrated by slide 6.
Achievements in implementing NMT since inception in 2001 included 69 000 bicycles delivered since 2001 in four phases. There was a new intervention to increase the quantities (for details, see slide 7).
The bicycle manufacturing industry in
Interventions to promote and support SK were indicated (slides 9-11) - in particular, the prioritising of public transport and the SK project, the integration of scholar transport and NMT in public transport infrastructure and services, the provision of SK bicycles to be subsidised from the scholar transport fund, and to have a fully fledged local manufacturing plant through an incremental approach. Also NMT plans were to be contained in the integrated transport plans (ITPs) before approval. NMT was to be included in the National Road Traffic Act and public transport action plans.
The steps towards establishing a bicycle manufacturing plant and assisting job creation thereby were outlined. (Slide 12). Unpacking job opportunities, enterprise development, and skills transfer were outlined (slide 13).
The Bicycle Value Chain was illustrated by a separate chart.
Mr N Duma (ANC) said that the Premier of the
Ms Nchabeleng responded that there had been a policy shift that would consolidate all grants for transport – the infrastructure grant and the operational grants. In amalgamating all these grants, a portion thereof, which would be determined at a later stage, through the Department's engagement process, would ensure that the Department continued improving and providing non-motorised transport facilities which would comply with safety issues, procedures and policies and ensure that empowerment, skills development and capacitation took place.
Mr Duma asked if the technical team had already been established or whether the formation of the team was awaiting a decision of the Ministers and Members of the Executive Council (MINMEC) or the decision of the Portfolio Committees of Transport and Basic Education. Could the Department of Transport not proceed on its own to make preparations for the transfer of the function of scholar transport? It would, however, be difficult for the Department of Transport to proceed independently without the Department of Basic Education. What type of memorandum of understanding (MOU) had to be signed? Was there a model for such an MOU? When would the Council of Ministers meet?
Mr Mahlalela said that how the technical committee would be structured was finalised. All that was required was a decision of the Members of the Executive Council ( MINMEC) and Council of Education Ministers that there should be a transfer to the Department of Transport. It was hoped that there would be a decision on Thursday, 14 April 2011.
Mr Mahlalela said that, following the above decision, the steering committee would follow, which would involve the Departments of Transport and Basic Education, and the corresponding provincial departments. The Department was already working on the framework for the steering committee.
Ms D Dlakude (ANC) asked about the specification of the bicycles, and if there was any monitoring to ensure that bicycles distributed all over the country reached the intended recipients.
Mr Whitey Maphakela, DOT Senior Project Manager for Non-Motorised Transport, replied that the Department had established monitoring systems. This was a process in which municipalities entered the schools, identified learners, and compiled a business plan for submission to the province. Thereafter the province would verify the business plan, by visiting the schools and verifying how far the learners must walk and ensure that those learners met the minimum requirements. In this case the Department was talking about the household income of the parents of the learners, and the distance that the learner would walk, the age of the learner and the gender. Once that had been done, the bicycle would be designed according to the specification of the learner, and it would then be transported directly into the province. The provincial department of transport was the recipient on behalf of the schools. In this case the provincial department of transport would sign off the delivery note, and ensure that the bicycles had been received. At a later stage, the bicycles would be donated to the learners. At that stage the learner himself would have to receive the bicycle at the school. In this way the monitoring system had been established. The Department ensured that provinces kept that information and provided the Department of Transport with a copy of the receipts from the beneficiaries.
Mr Mahlalela added that the big economic question that the Department was trying to answer, and which was part of the Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) 2 in order to create local capacity, was to sort out demand. It was like the railway programme, unless there was massive investment and a long term programme, one would not create local capacity. One had to know the numbers first [in order to justify the investment]. The bicycle project must first answer the question of numbers. It was therefore necessary to create a captive market on a sustained basis. Therefore the Department sought to encourage everyone to buy bicycles, by using its public policy initiatives like the public transport subsidies. It would not be sufficient in future to subsidise only buses and taxis, but also it would be necessary to subsidise bicycles and non-motorised transport. One envisaged 50 000 orders per year. If you had those numbers, then you could build a new plant.
Mr Mahlalela further added that in order to develop the technical capacity and expertise, it was necessary to stagger the project. In the meantime, while importing, say from the Chinese, one specified that, after the first phase in which one imported bicycles fully built, in the next phase one would require semi-built bicycles, and in the third phase one would move to a fully-functional local plant. This was the way in which the Chinese had developed their country. One would be buying their technology. The team concerned would work hard to ensure that a model was ready by the second week of June 2011. So at least this process, as we started the new financial year of 2012, would be up and running.
Ms Dlakude asked also how the Department of Transport planned to acquire land.
Mr Mahlalela said that it was not necessary to acquire a huge piece of land. An area of 10 000 or 20 000 square metres was sufficient. The local manufacturing plant project was suitable for a rural area and a traditional leader might be approached for a donation of land. It was much more advantageous for rural development.
Mr Mahlalela said that it was envisaged over the next ten years that there would be a plant in each province. One of the pillars would be transport costs. Having one plant and then transporting bicycles across the country would defeat the purpose. So localisation was important. All these things would be finalised in the model to be completed in June 2011.
Ms Nchabeleng emphasised that, when considering this intervention and bicycling, it concerned a number of sectors and drivers involved. Education was involved, as was Sport and Recreation in so far as one talked about promoting a healthy life style, as was social development, and responding to the Kyoto Protocol of low emissions. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) was involved in terms of incentives. Also the Department of Environmental Affairs. Also local government and the municipalities were the sphere where land was transacted, and the Department, though its engagement plans, had identified strategic sites in terms of proximity and viability, and would seek to broker these sites through the respective municipalities.
Ms Dlakude asked where exactly the Department of Transport planned to build the manufacturing plants, since the Committee understood that these plants must be built in the rural areas in order to reduce the migration of people from rural areas to the cities. The need was to create jobs in the rural areas.
Ms Dlakude asked why there was talk of importing bicycles from the first year to the fourth year. Surely that money could be used to build the manufacturing plants?
Ms Nchabeleng responded that the capacity to manufacture locally did not exist. There were only certain private companies which specialised in professional cycling as a sport. These companies procured from overseas companies.
Ms Nchabeleng said that the Department sought to reduce importation by building capacity by a staggered or incremental approach. However, it was also necessary to be cognisant of technical expertise, which would be developed henceforth while importation of parts continued until such time as these parts could be manufactured locally.
Emphasis on the specification was contained in the safety standards, and complied with South African Bureau of Standards (SAB) standards and international standards. These were some of the issues which the Department needed to ensure were established by the fourth year, when the first new plant would be set up. There would be partnerships with local companies.
Mr M Manama (ANC) welcomed both presentations and the intervention as proposed by the Department in so far as transport was concerned. He agreed with Mr Mahlalela that the process of awarding and management of scholar transport be implemented at provincial level, but the understanding was that once there were national standards and norms, these would speak to how best the awarding and monitoring should take place. Indeed, the province must have a role to play, but provinces must be guided by these national standards.
Mr Mahlalela said that there were just no standards at present. It was a free for all. Unless there were standards to guide provinces, the situation would continue the way it was. The matter of licences for bus drivers was related to standards.
Mr Manama was happy that Mr Mahlalela had highlighted the challenges. Indeed, it was saddening that Members would sit and discuss these issues of budgetary constraint when education was one of the key priorities of Government. There was something wrong.
Mr Manama focused on the challenge of the safe transport of schoolchildren to and from school. Indeed, if there were such inconsistencies in the payments to small bus operators, there could never be any assurance that indeed the inconsistencies would never affect the safety of the schoolchildren.
Mr Manama said that Mr Mahlalela had noted that some provinces gave contracts for one year while others gave contracts for three months. Three-month contracts gave no security to operators and no incentive to invest in new buses. The conditions and circumstances under which such operators worked impacted on safety.
Mr Manama was happy that Mr Mahlalela had highlighted these factors. The small bus operators must be able to respond to the standards and norms. But there must be standards set that would cascade down. Provinces must be able to follow those standards and norms.
Mr Manama conceded that the national Department might not have any say in the awarding of tenders, but, once there were standards and norms, these standards and norms would then speak broadly to how provinces should be able to award tenders in terms of broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) and other factors. Therefore it was to be hoped that this short term intervention, in the absence of the policy itself, would be in the best interest of the pupils.
Ms N Mdoko (ANC) concurred with Mr Manama. She said that she came from a deep rural area in the
Mr Mahlalela conceded that there had been a problem of monitoring. There had been a free-for-all and in the process many mistakes.
Mr Mahlalela said that previously he had been involved in a study on
Ms Mdoko asked how bus operators obtained their operating licences.
Ms Mdoko pointed out that she was new to the Committee and that it was her first day.
Ms Mdoko asked how long the Department of Basic Education would manage the provision of scholar transport. Mr Mahlalela had said that
Mr Mahlalela said that the Department was starting from a low base. This was because scholar transport had been part of the budget of the Department of Basic Education, while transport was not the core business of the Department of Basic Education. This was why there was such a low baseline. It was therefore necessary to review that, without necessarily stopping the process.
Mr Mahlalela was confident that his colleague, Bongani Khumalo, Acting Chairperson / Chief Executive, Financial and Fiscal Commission(FFC), would agree with him on how to recalculate what was involved as part of the budget process.
Mr Mahlalela said that there were other issues on which to engage with National Treasury, which was likely to argue that the scholar subsidy must be part of the commuter subsidy. Mr Mahlalela was not convinced that this was correct since scholars were fundamentally different from commuters, who travelled fundamentally in a straight line from home to work and back, while scholars travelled from village to village or township to township. Moreover, in sending a child to school, the parent gave parental responsibility to the school; there could be no time when a ten-year-old child would not be under parental guidance. During the transport process, the transport authority assumed parental responsibility. Thus the National Treasury must understand this fundamental difference.
Mr Mahlalela said that it was an inheritance from apartheid that one had young ten-year-old children moving from home to a commuter bus. This was wrong. This was why anywhere in the world one found school buses, since someone had to assume parental responsibility.
The Chairperson said that her own questions were informed by the work that the Department had done, including the report of 2003 on the national public transport survey. However, after eight years, one observed that one was still at the stage of identifying the problem. The stage of implementation had not been reached. Why did it take the Department eight years to produce an appropriate intervention? The public transport survey had highlighted the issues of an unsafe public transport system and the long distances travelled by commuters, including schoolchildren. What was also apparent from the survey was an infrastructure that was not integrated. Also the inaccessibility of public facilities, including schools, was apparent. Why would the Department spend money to conduct a survey, produce a report, and then take eight years to come up with an intervention strategy?
The Chairperson secondly observed that it was always said that one had learnt from the 2010 projects, but maybe it had become a political rhetoric. In practical terms, when we then proposed an intervention strategy, our strategies did not indicate that we had learnt from those 2010 projects.
The Chairperson observed that in both presentations, what was apparent was what the Department of Transport would do in conjunction with the provincial transport departments; however, from her perspective of someone with a background in community development, there were a number of departments that should be part of this project, if indeed, we had learnt anything from the 2010 projects.
The Chairperson was very specific. A child from a poor family was vulnerable to certain diseases. The Department of Health was therefore required to make a profile of the child in order for that Department to make an input as to how that child should be looked after on the journey between home and school, based on the health profile of the child.
The second issue was the Department of Social Development, in the case where a child was obliged to act as a substitute parent.
The third issue was around “demand-creation”. If we wanted to address unemployment and job-creation, we would also have to increase the demand.
The Chairperson had previously served in the Portfolio Committee on Sport and Recreation. Cycling was one of the sporting codes. In creating a demand for bicycles to be used, it would be necessary to collaborate with the Department of Sports and Recreation, in relation to that Department's promotion of cycling as one of the sporting codes and mass participation sports.
It was not enough to examine the building of manufacturing plants without looking at the building of the facilities for cycling tracks, a responsibility of the Department of Sports and Recreation, in order to promote cycling as a mass participation sport and thereby increasing the demand for bicycles.
The Chairperson observed that the Department's response to land acquisition did not indicate that we were taking local government seriously. It was not for the Department of Transport to tell local government what to do. It was local government which owned the land, and it was local government which coordinated the district municipalities which were charged with the responsibility of coordinating the integrated development plan. The Department of Transport did not have the responsibility of acquisition of land. It could, however, sensitise the district municipality, by collaborating with it that in terms of the Presidential Poverty Nodal Points, it was such a point, and in terms of the demand, the number of children who were supposed to be beneficiaries in terms of the Shova Kalula project, the local municipality was well positioned as a district municipality to actually service three or four municipalities that were of the same nature, and therefore was being asked to have a regional planning approach.
The Chairperson shared her experience as a former deputy mayor of a municipality which was a Presidential Poverty Nodal Point. Insufficient advantage had been taken of an intergovernmental relations framework which would have helped in the coordination of planning. The second issue insufficiently taken advantage of was the centrality of the district municipality in the coordination of planning.
The Chairperson was therefore saying that it was a good intervention, but it was an intervention that needed to take into account an intergovernmental relations framework horizontally and vertically. It had to be asked which other departments, and which other spheres of Government, were required to make a success of these plans. This was what the Department should go back and consider. The Department must go back and identify other key departments that were important in making the scholar transport plan and the SK plan successful.
The Chairperson thought that the projected steering committee was envisaged only to deal with the migration of scholar transport from Basic Education to Transport. It failed to deal with the implementation of an intervention. The latter needed the involvement of other departments, including the Department of Science and Technology to address skills development, the Department of Higher Education and Training with regard to the training of technicians who would manufacture the bicycles, the Department of Mineral Resources to ensure the availability of the required mineral resources used in the manufacture of the bicycles and to oversee a pilot plant before the establishment of the permanent plants in the various provinces – since the plants must be located near sources of raw materials.
The Chairperson recollected her experience as a former Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Sports and Recreation in dealing with the matter of cooperation between departments.
The Chairperson emphasised the complementary role that a number of key departments should play in the project, but led by the Department of Transport.
Mr Mahlalela agreed with the Chairperson. He said that there was always this problem with a nationally co-ordinated programme that the urban centres could lobby and tended to emerge as the winners. The result was that these projects ended up in the urban centres. So it was therefore necessary to use a different set of criteria for the location. This was the first point. The Nodal Point was the right approach to take. With regard to the interdepartmental task team, one of the things that the Department might have to look at was the approval process for a project to be part of IPAP, because, once a project became part of IPAP, it allowed the Department to activate various instruments in Government. So the Department would try to mobilise the other departments of government in order to make the important departments part and parcel of this process.
There were currently discussions in progress with the Department of Higher Education and Training around further education and training (FET) skills development programmes.
Mr Mahlalela agreed with the Chairperson that the Shova Kalula project programme had the potential to be a catalytic project, in many ways, not only for transport. If one considered the inputs about which one was talking, steel, iron ore, and others, one could consider the use of scrap metal from the taxis scrapped as part of the taxi recapitalisation programme. At the moment, those scrap metals were just sold to the highest bidder.
Mr Mahlalela hoped that the model would assist in dealing with these issues of integration with other departments and other initiatives within the Department.
Mr Mahlalela said that there were scrapping agencies involved with the taxi recapitalisation programme, though unfortunately they were based in major centres. These agencies were part of an extensive infrastructure and it could be asked if these could not be used to assist in the manufacture of bicycles by way of the supply of materials.
Mr Mahlalela thus agreed with the Chairperson on the issue of integration.
Mr Mahlalela understood the Chairperson's remark “why, after eight years?” to be a comment. The Department was required to conduct a new travel survey in the current financial year, and it would be important to use the information profitably.
However, there were some positive things from the previous survey. If one considered the expenditure on transport, it did increase. However, the matter of scholar transport was an area that had not been addressed. “I can't really explain why: it's a problem”. If we cannot provide the necessary tools for the young ones to obtain education it had to be asked what kind of country we had. One could fail in all other respects, but one could not fail the children. It was imperative to solve the problem of scholar transport. Even on main arterial roads one could see children walking six to ten kilometres from school.
Mr Mahlalela was glad that the Chairperson was elevating this matter of school transport.
The Chairperson referred to the plan to establish a manufacturing plant for bicycles, and asked if there was a plan for manufacturing buses, with specifications prescribed by the Department, for scholar transport.
The Chairperson reflected on what the taxi industry said during its recent presentation, that the taxi recapitalisation did not benefit the country in terms of job creation, because it was not made a condition that the vehicles should be made in
The Chairperson said that the scholar transport was not only the Shova Kalula project programme, but it also included the manufacturing of either a minibus with a different specification to transport the child or a bus with different specification to transport schoolchildren.
The Chairperson said that it was important to be mindful of the social problems in
Mr Khumalo was glad that there had been a long overdue movement towards “finding a location for the function; this was a very important development in the sense that without a clear location for that function, it was impossible to develop the norms and standards for it”. He agreed with the Chairperson that there was a problem with the pace at which decisions taken by Government were implemented. If certain key building blocks to that priority of education were delayed, it was a very big problem. One could not talk about improving the quality of education and its outcomes if the children could not travel to school safely and conveniently. He had been shocked by the implications of a decision of the
The Chairperson said that the table Funding 2009/10, slide 8, did not indicate the number of children who benefited out of the potential total of beneficiaries. Such information would help the Committee to measure whether the intervention was “a drop in the ocean” and was important for the Committee's Budget Review Report (BRR).
Mr Mahlalela replied that the technical committee would have to address that requirement. At the present time the Department would not be able to provide that information. The network plans were the only means of providing that information. One of the deliverables of the technical committee would be to produce this kind of information, which would be much more scientific. At present, there were large rural areas that were not covered at all.
Mr Mahlalela referred to a study which he had conducted for
The Chairperson was aware of the extended efforts that Mr Mahlalela had made in
The Chairperson was, moreover, able to ask these kinds of questions because of her previous work in local government, in which she had been in charge of planning at a district level. Implementation could only follow on the basis of a scientifically informed plan. However, it had been a struggle to obtain funding for such a plan. A lack of understanding at the National Treasury for the need to fund planning indicated an appreciation of the need only to fund implementation. Yet implementation did not occur without an informed plan. Thus a planning and monitoring unit was needed at national level in the Department.
Moreover, another department that needed to be involved was the Department of Cooperative Governance.
The Chairperson asked what the expected lifespan of a bicycle was.
Mr Maphakela replied that according to the criteria and the MOU signed with provinces and municipalities the projected lifespan was five years.
The Chairperson asked what happened to bicycles at the end of their working life.
Mr Maphakela replied that bicycles remained the property of the school until the end of the working life of the bicycles, after which the school could decide what to do with them.
The Chairperson called for a plan for the disposal of old bicycles to take account of the need to reduce carbon emissions. Moreover, without disputing the Department's opinion, she called for confirmation of the bicycle lifespan from the Department of Science and Technology.
Mr Maphakela replied that this was a difficult question. The Department wanted to address the matter of maintaining the bicycles, but this function rested with the provinces. At the same time, budgetary provision fell short, and poor learners found it difficult to maintain bicycles at their own expense.
The Chairperson observed that the Department of Trade and Industry was not able effectively to use its substantial grant for cooperatives. At the same time, we were challenged to create jobs. How much did it cost to establish a bicycle maintenance shop?
Mr Maphakela replied that he did not have the figures with him. However, he estimated that it would cost around R200 per bicycle to buy a set of essential spare parts.
The Chairperson returned to the high rate of unemployment and the grant of the Department of Trade and Industry. Schools could be linked to cooperatives for the maintenance of bicycles. This could enable jobs to be created and access to funds from another department.
Ms Nchabeleng said that the Department appreciated that its first pilot phase had provided this support service from the fiscus but had neglected the potential for entrepreneurial skills development. One way of developing entrepreneurial skills was through partnership with the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA).
The Chairperson noted that the Department of Basic Education had schools with under-utilised classrooms. Perhaps these could be used as bicycle repair workshops.
The Chairperson observed that although
Mr Mahlalela said that the Department needed to brief the Committee on what was emerging from the provinces, since they were giving the Department excellent plans and some strategic projects, notably the
The Chairperson gave the Department of Transport until after the local government elections to improve its intervention, since it still had gaps. After the budget vote on 01 June 2011, the Committee would call the Department again to present an improved intervention on scholar transport, which would take account of not only the manufacturing and maintenance of bicycles but also the manufacturing of vehicles – buses or minibuses - for scholar transport where it was necessary to use motorised transport.
It was also necessary to address the skills levels and character of the drivers to ensure that they were fit to drive children to school. The safety of the children was of paramount importance. It was also necessary to consider the need to take the children to sports facilities as part of their education. At present it was mainly rich children who had access to sports facilities, since their parents could afford to drive them there.
It was important to “think out of the box” and emphasise enterprise development. Also, by the time of the Department's next visit, it was important that the Department would have interacted with the small bus operators and determined their role. Specifications should be drawn up for school buses or school minibuses.
The Chairperson thanked the Department and acknowledged that there was now movement. The presentations had indicated that there was a direct focus. It was now necessary to accelerate the process and close the gaps that had been identified. The Committee would continue to engage until it was satisfied that these gaps had been closed and the intervention was ready to be piloted.
The Committee adopted outstanding minutes and its programme for the second term, which would include, on 14 June 2011, a follow-up briefing on scholar transport.
The meeting was adjourned.
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