The Select Committee had visited the Free State Province recently to investigate issues relating to the ongoing violence between taxi operators on cross-border routes between South Africa and Lesotho, and had heard a number of complaints raised by South African operators, as to the permits, routes, facilities at municipalities, and alleged violence and high payments extracted by both insurers and permit officials in Lesotho.
The MEC for Transport, Free State, and his provincial Department made representations on the issues, setting out the background to the regulatory framework, the apparent conflict between Customs Union and South African Development Community Agreements, and the legislation, and practices over the years. It alleged that eh Cross Border Road Transport Agency (the Agency) and South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) tended to ignore
The Agency then sketched the regulatory framework that governed the operations between
Members of the committee questioned how permits were granted and called for clarity on what authority the Agency had in regulating the cross-border transport operations. Although the Provincial Department claimed that the Agency issued permits, the Agency clarified that it did so only for South African operators. Members questioned the request that
Taxi cross-border violence: Free State and Lesotho: Further briefings and submissions
The Chairperson gave a brief background to the matter, explaining that the Select Committee had visited the Free State some months ago, when it was confronted by a number of people from the taxi association, raising their concerns about challenges they were experiencing daily on the taxi routes between Free State and Lesotho. The Committee discussed some issues and decided that a follow-up was needed, but a few weeks ago, on a further visit, it appeared that there had been a communication breakdown. The Committee wanted to adopt a joint approach to try to avoid further confrontation. It appealed to the taxi associations to work with the Committee and all other stakeholders. He emphasised that the Committee’s visit must not be seen as confrontational and stressed that the Committee wanted to find out the true situation and make recommendations that could assist.
Submission by MEC for Police, Roads and Transport, Free State
Mr Butana Komphela, MEC for Police, Roads and Transport, Free State, noted the presence of the National Department of Transport (NDOT) and members of taxi associations. He apologised for the inconvenience caused to the Committee by the inability of the Provincial Department to meet with the Committee, saying that there had been a problem with communication and that he had received a “strange” communication from the Select Committee on Finance, which had caused a problem. This Department would be happy to cooperate with the Committee on issues of concern to
Mr Komphela noted that his predecessor, Mr Thabo Manyani, had attempted to find a resolution to the problems for quite a long time. When Mr Komphela arrived in the
Adv T Phahlo,
He noted that the operations cross-border thus fell squarely within the competence of the Agency and its Board, who issued permits. The issuing of permits by the Agency had made matters worse for the
He summarised that the 2005 agreement firstly dealt with the fact that all taxi operators would start on the South African side or the Maseru/Ladybrand border post, no matter what other provisions of other legislation said. Secondly, at the Maputsoe /Ficksburg Border Post, both the South African and
Adv Phahla noted once again that notwithstanding the problems, both parties recognised the need for co-existence and cooperation, because a large number of
He then noted that, without the Department wanting to suggest that it was taking sides, the
He noted that the unhappiness came to a head again in 2009. The Provincial Department had tried to convene meetings aimed at finding solutions, as detailed in Annexure TJP5, which contained a summary of just some of what the Department tried to do. However, the Agency had been reluctant to cooperate in finding a solution, but he emphasised that he was not criticising it, as the solution had to be found by this Department. Other stakeholders had become involved to try to solve the impasse, including the High Commission of South Africa in
Adv Phahla noted that the various proposals were not universally accepted, which resulted in the same tensions and violence erupting. The Free State taxi operators believed that NDOT was not taking this seriously, despite the fact that these operators had complied with formalisation processes, that permits had been converted, as required, from a radius permit to route-based permits, and that there was participation in the taxi recapitalisation programmes. They also complained that although meetings were arranged, the NDOT did not attend on two occasions.
Adv Phahla noted that Annexure TJP12 was a report prepared by NDOT on the “State of
Annexure TJP 13 was a letter from the Provincial Taxi Council registering a complaint against what had been said by the Director General of NDOT about implementation of the Act.
Adv Phahla said that attempts were made to seek approval and in-principle decisions from the Executive Council, to support operators engaged in cross-border operations, and to engage with the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) for amendment of the Act. It was noted where ranks and facilities were being constructed, because these were developmental issues outlined in the Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) of the municipalities. Consideration had to be given to where people from one area could go if other ranks were not constructed. Weather conditions must also be considered; for instance, in
Adv Phahla finally noted that resolutions were taken as a result of meetings between the Provincial Department and the Agency, but the latter failed to implement them. He referred Members to the agenda and minutes of the meeting, noting that provinces were to submit the names of associations and operators operating around the border towns, that the Agency was to provide a list of operators on its database, and that list should give an evaluation and alignment with the legislation. Questions of education on the Acts and the control and management of facilities must be considered, and it was agreed that there was a need to revert to the ad hoc permit agreement of 2005. Other complaints about assault and insurance, as mentioned earlier, were raised.
One of the other problems was that the body of
The Provincial Department of Transport had proposed that the matter must be taken to MinMEC, and that it also be raised at the Committee of Heads of Departments of Transport. There must be continuous consultation with the Agency, and operations at border-mouth and border-box must be streamlined.
Mr Komphela added that the Agency and South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) were both acting with impunity and undermining the roles of the provinces. Routes were increased by the Agency, without due regard to the position in
Cross Border Road Transport Agency submission
Ms Yolisa Mashilwane, Executive: Facilitation, CBRTA, apologised that the Chief Executive Officer, Mr Siphon Khumalo was unable to be present. She reported that so far from being arrogant, non-compliant or non-responsive, CBRTA preferred to report when its long-standing officials, who had been through the whole process, could report and address the issues. She noted that of the three delegates present at this meeting, one had been with the Agency from May 2009, while others joined as recently as three months ago. She could not comment on some of the issues raised. The Agency did, however, believe that a solution must be found, for the benefit of operators and passengers, who happened to be caught in the middle of the dispute.
She read out the recommendations contained in the presentation (see attached document).
A representative from SANTACO said that this association appreciated what Parliament was trying to do. The MEC had indicated that the Agency did not seem to want to align itself or cooperate with the provinces. However, the Agency had said that the permits needed to be converted. He indicated that whatever the Provincial Department had ordered SANTACO to do, for its own good, it had done, so it seemed that the Agency was not liaising on these points with the Provincial Department. Tensions had emerged as early as 2003, with fights between operators in
SANTACO pleaded that the daily cross-border operation be stopped, with immediate effect, and the Act must be reconsidered urgently. It further recommended that all the taxi ranking facilities should remain in
Ms M Themba (ANC,
Ms Themba was of the view that if women were more strongly represented in this industry, the problems would long ago have been settled. She added that transport was included in the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and empowerment of women in this industry should be promoted.
Mr O De Beer (COPE,
Mr De Beer stated that there had to be a regulatory framework, and that no deviations from this should be permitted. There were many ways in which legislation could be amended, including petitioning Parliament on this issue. He would be uncomfortable with reverting to the MoU, as there was seemingly little commitment to upholding it.
Mr De Beer also addressed the suggestion not to allow newcomers into the sector but stated that this seemed to be in conflict with the Constitution that allowed any citizen to benefit from opportunities that arose. The intention may have been sound, but some other way must be found that did not discriminate.
Mr De Beer noted that when the Committee was in
Mr De Beer said that the perception that South Africans were anarchic by nature must be dispelled, as most were law-abiding citizens. He acknowledged the taxi operators’ need to make money, but reminded them that they had to render a service, in competition with others, and the question was how to regulate that competition so that it was not unfair.
Mr Z Mlenzana (COPE,
Ms Mashilwane clarified that Section 75(2) stated that no operator may drop off, or pick up, passengers at or near any international border, where it was clear that these passengers intended to, or had just crossed the border with another state, unless this operator held the necessary permit required by the CBRT Act. If trips involved cross-border transport, an operator who picked up and dropped off passengers in the Republic, on either the outward or return journey, must be in possession of the necessary operating licence for the vehicle, which was issued by the provincial government, and in possession of any permit required by the CBRT Act. There were a number of requirements for permits, including an operating licence that must be attached to the vehicle, letters of referral from the municipality, and joint venture agreements with operators over the border. The Agency did not issue permits to outside operators.
Mr Mlenzana asked the Agency to elaborate on the bilateral agreement with
The Chairperson expressed concern about the last sentence on the last slide of the Agency’s presentation, suggesting that the Committee should be workshopped. The Committee had already raised the point, itself, that the Agency needed to work with the Provincial Department, and was fully aware of the Protocols and bi-lateral agreements. He was not saying that the Committee was averse to workshops, but said that the role of the NCOP should not be under-estimated.
Ms Mashilwane apologised profusely if the Agency had in any way created a perception that they thought the Committee needed to be workshopped. The intention behind proposing a workshop was to try to ensure that all parties had a common understanding of the situation, and would fully understand all the advantages or disadvantages of any amendment proposed.
The Chairperson also referred to slide 7 of the Agency’s presentation, stating that “Free State Taxi operators do not want any cross border passenger operations in the
Ms Mashilwane stated that in October 2010 the Agency had received a letter from
The Chairperson interjected and asked whether the CBRTA had verified whether the letter received from the taxi operators in the
The Chairperson also noted that despite signature by the taxi association of an agreement with counterparts in
The Chairperson asked whether the Act allowed for coordination between Agency and provincial MECs, and asked how often there was linkage, access to resources, workshops and other attempts to meet. Often, when people were unhappy, they would point fingers at government, failing to recognise that it was through the efforts of the same government that they were in fact employed at all.
The Chairperson emphasised that he was not trying to protect the MEC, but it had to be acknowledged that some of the problems were already in existence before Mr Komphela took office.
Mr De Beer asked for clarification on the MoU signed between the Agency and government and asked how this impacted on the situation.
Mr Mlenzana wondered if the Agency had deliberately not provided documentation to the Committee. He reiterated that the crux of the matter was Section 75, and he reiterated his question as to precisely who issued permits, pointing out that if municipalities could, then any municipality could authority cross-border travel into
Ms Sibongile Mazibuko, Head of Free State Provincial Department of Police, Roads and Transport,
Ms Mazibuko stated that the Free State Provincial Department and NDOT generally worked well together, but this issue had been going on for years and was a source of some tension. Every office bearer who had ever dealt with this portfolio had noted the conflicts between operators, and even residents. The Department appreciated that there were certain protocols with neighbouring countries but stressed that the small geographic distances between the
Ms Mazibuko made a commitment that the Free State Provincial Department would make a full submission on legislative impediments, and pleaded for cooperation of the Agency.
The Chairperson requested when this could be done.
Mr Komphela advised Mr Mlenzana that cross-border licences were issued by the Agency, not the Provincial Government. He was annoyed at the suggestion that national legislation might undermine the country’s Constitution, and stated that the Agency had not been taking all concerns of the
Mr Botsang Moiloa, Senior Manager: Facilitation, CBRTA, also emphasised that the CBRT Act of 2008 was not unique, and did not stand above any other legislation. The Agency’s relationship with
Mr Moiloa wanted to put it on record that the Agency did not regard the situation in
Ms Mashilwane said that she was happy to accept criticism if it took the matter forward. The Agency protected operators in the
The Chairperson cautioned the National Department of Transport to call its own meeting with stakeholders; this was not the appropriate platform to do so.
A representative from the
Mr Sinethemba Mngqibisa, Chief Director: National Department of Transport, said that he would report these discussions back to the department. He agreed with Adv Phahlo’s recommendation for high-level meetings with MinMEC. He noted that the Department’s task team had completed its work, and it was submitted to the Director-General, who had wanted to clarify some issues and call on the task team for recommendations before submitting the report to the Minister.
The Chairperson asked Mr Komphela not to be frustrated about these issues, and said that every channel must be exhausted, and that people had to respect his efforts. He asked the Agency representatives to inform the Chief Executive Officer that in future he should be present to answer high-level questions. He appealed to the taxi association to give the Committee the opportunity to address and resolve the issues. He also asked the Agency to conduct workshops in the
The Chairperson concluded that further violence would be disempowering, and appealed to the MEC and Agency to try to meet with municipalities on these issues.
The meeting was adjourned.
- We don't have attendance info for this committee meeting
Download as PDF
You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.
See detailed instructions for your browser here.