Department of Transport Revised Draft Strategic Plan 2011-2014

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14 February 2012
Chairperson: Ms N Bhengu (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Transport (the DoT) presented a revised strategic plan for the period 2011-2014, taking into account the comments of the Auditor-General and Committee that the previous strategic plan did not satisfy the requirements of measurability and accountability. It was noted that even this plan was a draft, and that it would be further revised, taking into account comments that the Committee raised at this meeting. The Department noted that its restructuring had enabled a shift from mere policy development to implementation of delivery and co-ordination within transport. The new structure consisted of seven distinct programme areas or branches, and the work of each was outlined. The main outcomes were to achieve an efficient integrated transport infrastructure, to achieve transport safety, to focus on rural development, to improve the public transport system, to increase job creation and to achieve environmental sustainability. The new plans had been extensively debated by the Ministry and Department. Specific mention was made of the plans to create an ICT hub to address the fragmented and non-interactive systems that citizens currently faced. The need to integrate plans was also mentioned in the review of the Transport Master Plan. Regional transport corridors would be created. A National Transport Form was intending to address the alignment problems of national, provincial and local government spheres. A new Rail Transport Policy would also be drawn. The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) was to upgrade and expand the seven priority commuter rail corridors and there would be a national service level agreement, intending to move the monitoring, control and supervision and planning of rail to a municipal level over time. The Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act (AARTO) would be rolled out. Road traffic legislation would be reviewed and new legislation developed. The road maintenance programme S’hamba Sonke would continue, to assist 21 distressed district municipalities to develop non-motorised infrastructure and facilities. More attention was needed to road maintenance and to ironing out the difficulties from the combining of road maintenance and disaster relief funds. A new Civil Aviation Airlift strategy would be drawn, to improve air freight services. A Green Paper on maritime transport would be published by May 2012. There were plans to finalise the National Land Transport Amendment Act (NLTA) in 2012.

Members asked about the placement of the corridor projects, enquired how DoT was progressing with various Bills and asked why there had been a delay. Members were concerned whether PRASA would be wiling to sign the new service level agreements. Members asked several questions about the proposal that newly-licensed drivers be placed under a probationary period of three years, but noted that the details were not yet available.  Members asked if there was sufficient capacity in the Department to implement the revised strategic plan. They questioned why there was no mention of several new rail infrastructure programmes by name, the state of rural roads, said it was difficult to assess how this plan spoke to identified Government priorities, and said it also did not mention reduction of costs and time of travelling, realities on the ground, and the definition of the Department. Members asked about the regulatory oversight of airstrips, the criteria for some of the programmes, and the responsibilities of the Department in relation to maritime safety. Members suggested that rural towns be prioritised for the pilot projects, noted the need to look at these towns’ requirements for scholar transport, and access to clinics, and highlighted the service delivery gaps between rural and urban transport systems. They also stressed the need for better monitoring, and questioned what had been delaying the scholar transport policy, and the difficulties that victims of road accidents still had in claiming from the Road Accident Fund. The Department briefly outlined some proposals made, and said that details would be provided. Further details were also sought on a number of specific programmes. Members were still not happy that the strategic plan addressed all issues comprehensively and urged the Department to read the Committee’s previous reports and revise areas of the plan accordingly.

Meeting report

Chairperson’s opening remarks
The Chairperson noted that the minutes of the previous meeting could not be approved today, due to the Committee Section’s inability to review them.

She noted that the Department of Transport (DoT or the Department) had been asked to present its revised strategic plan for 2011-2014. The strategic plan that had been presented previously was more of a long-term than specific plan. This new plan should ensure that the key performance areas of the department were aligned with the departmental structure. An alignment of the programmes of the entities would help to counter the mismatch between what the Department was doing and what was happening in the agencies. The current strategic plan should also speak to the ideals of the Freedom Charter, namely transformation, reduction of unemployment, creation of jobs and  reduction of inequality. The plan also needed to be influenced by the role that the Department must play in relation to transport and economic development, the influence of Cabinet, the National Planning Commission (NPC) and the recent State of the Nation Address (SONA). There would be further engagement between the Committee and Department. The strategic plan also needed to be linked to a model that would inform the programmes.

Department of Transport Revised Strategic Plan 2011-2014
Mr George Mahlalela, Director General, Department of Transport, tabled the revised Strategic Plan. He noted that it covered the background, new organisational structure, departmental outcomes, the seven identified programme areas, strategic objectives, key performance indicators and activities. The revised strategic plan was drawn following comments from both the Auditor General and the Committee that the previously-presented strategic plan did not meet the requirements of defined targets and measurability in terms of the SMART (Simple, Measurable, Achievable, Results-oriented, Timeframes) principles. The restructuring of the Department had enabled a shift from mere policy development to implementation of delivery co-ordination within transport.

He noted that the simplified structure consisted of seven distinct programme areas or branches. Programme 1: Administration covered the office of the Chief Financial Officer and Transport Information Systems. He outlined that the systems included integrated transport planning, rail, road, maritime and public transport and civil aviation. The new organisational structure would make it easier to identify gaps in skills and capacity, allow greater focus on public services and improve oversight of public entities.

The overall planning process was divided into a hierarchical system, illustrated by a table that showed the strategic 3 to 5 year plan at the top, followed by the Medium Term Expenditure Framework
(MTEF) three year period, the annual performance plan, quarterly operational plans, weekly work and project plans, all of which had to align with and speak to each other.

Mr Mahlalela noted that the Department had six measurable outcomes. These were to achieve:
•An efficient, integrated transport infrastructure,
•Transport safety
•Rural development
•Improved public transport system
•Increased job creation
•Environmental sustainability

The strategic plan was subjected to branch planning sessions, one-on-one sessions with the Director General and Deputy Directors General (DDG), a departmental planning session involving the Minister, Deputy Minister, DDGs, Chief Directors (CD) and Directors. After this presentation and feedback, the draft should be finalised in March.

Mr Mahlalela then proceeded to go into the details of the specific programmes, highlighting the key projects and challenges.

Programme 1: Administration was divided into four sub-programmes. Under the Transport Information System  it was proposed that an ICT hub be established, to address the currently incoherent and fragmented interaction system faced by citizens. This would also enable faster processing of goods at ports, reliable and consistent vehicle and driver licensing, improved tolling systems, and the ability to access secure transport data from a single source. The Portfolio Management aimed to develop and implement a monitoring and evaluation tool for catalytic transport projects and develop assessment criteria and ranking tool for project prioritisation. The Communications sub-programme would align communication campaigns and establish a policy advocacy for projects and programmes within the Department. It also would establish a public transport engagement forum. This programme also provided support for the Minister, Deputy Minister, Director-General and Chief Financial Officer as well as legal and financial services for the Department.

Programme 2: Integrated Transport Planning was responsible for macro sector planning, informed by critical analysis of land use patterns, modelling and economic analysis. There was a need to integrate plans to facilitate multi modualism, review transport master plan, and link to the development plans of the National Planning Commission (NPC). Major projects and programmes included implementation of the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) Charter Council. This programme would also ensure efficient trade through the development of regional transport corridors, and enhance African integration through the harmonisation of standards within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. It would establish the status of regional infrastructure. A National Transport Forum would be established to counter the alignment problems within national, provincial and local government spheres

Programme 3: Rail transport was responsible to oversee and monitor the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR)  and the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA). Major projects and programmes included the development of a Rail Transport Policy, and establishment of a Rail Economic Regulator. PRASA was to upgrade and expand the seven priority commuter rail corridors. A National Service Level Agreement would be developed between DoT and PRASA, and this would be piloted. There had been challenges identified in the implementation of the current agreement with PRASA. There were discussions with Cape Town metro to pilot the monitoring, control and supervision and planning of rail at a municipal level.

Programme 4: Road Transport included the rollout of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act (AARTO). It hoped to see service delivery improvements through the development of a Service Delivery Charter and Standards. There would be a review of road traffic legislation. A new Roads Act would be developed, which in part would deal with investments in roads. A roads’ funding summit was planned for May 2012. Drivers’ licence programmes would be implemented at grade 12 and tertiary institutions. There was a proposal to introduce a three year probationary period for newly licensed drivers. The S’hamba Sonke road maintenance programme would continue. This programme aimed to assist 21 distressed district municipalities in developing non-motorised infrastructure and facilities. Several major challenges had been identified in relation to road transport, including a non compliant society with no respect for the law. In relation to funding, the combination of Provincial Road Maintenance Grant (PRMG) and disaster management fund meant that maintenance funds tended to be put rather to disaster management, affecting normal maintenance.

Programme 5: Civil Aviation Transport aimed to review the Airlift strategy (which had expired in 2010), with a new strategy to be approved by March 2013. This was intended to improve air freight services. A stable environment for establishment of tariffs would be created. All civil aviation protocols would be ratified.

Programme 6: Maritime Transport aimed to develop a maritime transport policy. A Green Paper on  maritime transport would be published by end May 2012. It would continue attempts to improve maritime safety and security. A deep-water harbour was to be established at Ngqura.

Programme 7: Public Transport was aiming to finalise the National Land Transport Amendment Act (NLTA)  in 2012. National, provincial and municipal regulatory institutions would be established. There would be a pilot rollout of the NLTA in a small town or city. The major challenge facing this programme was the collapse of the Taxi Recapitalisation Programme.

Mr I Ollis (DA) asked that a larger-format print of the new organisational structure diagram be made available to the Committee members. He sought clarification on what was meant by the “complete national catalytic projects portfolio list”. He also asked where exactly the Moloto corridor project was located. 

Mr Ngwako Makaepea, Acting Chief Director: Rail Regulation, DoT, answered that the Moloto Corridor was located between Pretoria and Mpumalanga

Mr Ollis asked for a list of draft Bills currently being processed, and wanted to know where and why these had been stalled.

Mr Ollis asked about the nature and mandate of the proposed Rail Economic Regulator.

Mr Makaepea answered that the Economic Regulator would regulate the financial pricing and access arrangements between PRASA and Transnet.

Mr Ollis asked for details on the seven PRASA corridor projects. 

Mr Makaepea listed the seven corridor projects, as the Soweto Corridor, the two Mokopane clusters, the two Durban clusters, the Cape Town/Khayelitsha Corridor and the East London Corridor.

Mr Ollis asked if PRASA would be unwilling to sign the National Service Delivery agreements, if part of Metrorail was to be handed over to the local authority. 

Mr Jits Patel, Acting Chief Director: Public Transport Regulation, DoT, noted that the National Land Transport Bill was developed after significant discussions between the Department and PRASA about the service level agreement. PRASA agreed that there needed to be accountability in the services that it provided. The agreement that was finally reached was that the best level of authority would be the major municipalities. Rail would remain a national function, in line with the Constitution,  so that function would not be removed. Instead, however, a service level agreement would be signed with the major metros. This agreement would be signed by the DoT until such time as there was adequate capacity within the municipalities.

Mr Ollis asked what was the benefit intended by the proposed probationary period for newly licensed drivers. He pointed out that the legislation already provided for penalties. There was also the possibility of suspending the licenses of licensed drivers.

Adv James Mlawu, Deputy Director General: Road Transport, DoT, answered that the details as to how this probation period might work had yet to be defined. The Department would have to provide further details in due course, once this had been more fully debated. There was the potential of using the insurance industry, so that those who were reckless in their driving would feel the impact through that rote. The proposal included the idea of incentivising new drivers to drive more carefully and avoid accidents.

Mr L Suka (ANC) questioned whether there was sufficient capacity to implement the revised strategic plan. 

Mr Mahlalela answered that the new organisational structure allowed the Department to monitor and identify where capacity challenges might exist, in a more scientific and systematic way. 

Mr Suka noted that in the recent State of the Nation Address (SONA) there was reference made to several new rail infrastructure projects. He did not see any mention of these in the presentation. 

Mr Makaepea replied that the projects announced in the SONA involved various role players, including Departments of Trade and Industry, Public Enterprises and Transport. The 2050 vision was part of the integrated transport programme.

Mr Suka asked for clarity on the regulatory oversight of airstrips within the country, given the roles of the Department of Transport, and Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) in developing airports.

Mr Tshepo Peege, Deputy Director General: Civil Aviation, DoT, answered that airports were defined by the Civil Aviation Authority according to their nature. Airstrips were defined as recreational operations. The next step up was airline training schools, followed by provincial airports determined by provincial Integrated Development Plans, and finally the three major ACSA airports. Landing strip airplanes were not part of the air traffic control because they flew below the 8 000 feet level.
Ms N Ngele (ANC) noted that the presentation had said nothing about the state of rural roads.

Ms Ngele requested more information on the Infrastructure Development Strategy. She welcomed the programmes in relation to seafarers, and the driver’s license programmes. However, she had some doubts as to whether they would succeed at a provincial level, and noted that the criteria were not set out.

Ms Hamida Fakira, Deputy Director General: Maritime Transport, DoT, answered that the selection process for seafarer training was lead by the Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) and a committee that consisted of South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), which was responsible for training certification, as well as representatives from the DoT, municipalities and provinces. The focus had generally been on coastal provinces. The presentation did indicate that there would be a process to evaluate the current institutional arrangements for skills development, which would then inform the selection criteria.

Ms Ngele requested that pilot projects should be run in rural towns as a priority.

Mr Patel agreed with the sentiment that the pilot projects should be rolled out in a small rural town.
Ms R Motsepe (ANC) raised concerns about the monitoring of the schools driver’s license programme.

Ms Motsepe noted that the Greenview Project currently had about 100 shacks, with inhabitants who would not be moved, and she wondered if there were any alternative plans to try to achieve success in this project.

Ms Motsepe asked if cars could be registered for the tolling system.
Mr P Mbhele (COPE) asked who the Department hoped would attend the round table discussions alluded to in the presentation. 

Mr Mahlalela answered that all stakeholders and interested parties would be invited to attend, and that Parliament’s participation would be crucial.

Mr Mbhele asked for the total number of the appeals cases. The presentation only noted that 25 were dealt with.

Mr Patel answered that the figure of 25 cases reflected an estimate for the financial year 2012, based on the numbers of appeals in previous year. It was noted that all appeals that were received in one year would be finalised in that year.

Ms N Mdaka (ANC) requested clarity on the introduction of environmentally-friendly taxis and how this would affect the existing taxis. 

Mr Mahlalela said that this involved not the purchasing of new taxis, but rather the conversion of existing taxi engines to use alternate fuels.

Ms Mdaka highlighted the service delivery gap between the rural and urban transport systems.

Mr Mahlalela said that the strategic plan acknowledged that more resources needed to be afforded to rural development and that future programmes would be measured against that need. Monitoring was important, to ensure that there was a better quality and less abuse of resources. There were ongoing discussions with National Treasury to create a rural transport fund.
Ms D Dlakude (ANC) voiced support for the Department’s proposed probationary period for newly qualified drivers. She questioned the criteria for identifying schools for the Department’s programmes. 

Mr Peege noted that the International Civil Aviation Day was commemorated by South Africa to encourage interest amongst the population sector in the aviation sector. South Africa celebrated this day each year by rotating celebrations among the provinces. The awareness campaign was meant to enrich interest and emphasise a wider scope of aviation careers among learners, such as aviation engineers, air traffic controllers and others, to increase capacity within aviation, and to respond to the brain drain from South Africa. The Department identified the Free State Province for this year’s intake. The process was co-ordinated with the provincial Departments of Education and Transport, who identified schools in which the programme should be run.

Ms Dlakude raised concern about the rural transport network’s inadequacies, which resulted in learners having to walk great distances to schools. She suggested these schools should be able to partake in the scholar transport programme. 

Mr Patel agreed with the sentiment that the programme should focus on rural areas.

Ms Dlakude noted that not all provinces were struck by natural disasters, and suggested that the S’hamba Sonke grant should be used by provincial authorities to develop rural road infrastructure, to ensure that people had access to facilities like clinics and schools. 

Adv Mlawu stated that there was a need to engage with the National Treasury on this point. He noted increasing problems around natural disasters, which affected both new infrastructure and maintenance on existing roads, which in turn contributed to crises where there was no real movement in improving the roads infrastructure. The decision to lump the two grants together made it impossible to measure the progress made on the maintenance programme. The Provincial Roads Management Grant was given under very specific conditions, to cater for existing roads, not new ones. The strategic plan mentioned the intention to drive through a new roads policy.

Ms Dlakude asked what was delaying the completion of the scholar transport policy. 

Mr Mahlalela admitted that until now, there had been focus on the wrong issue, with the debate centring on whether the policy should be the responsibility of the Department of Education or DoT. Agreement had been reached that the policy should create the environment to provide the service.

Ms Dlakude asked that PRASA provide the Committee with a detailed programme of its intended achievements.

Ms Dlakude asked what progress the DoT had made on the review of the National Roads Act.

Adv Mlawu answered that the Department needed to sit down with some of the key agencies, including the provincial authorities, around how to refine roads. Given that AARTO needed to be rolled out, it would be important to refine the regulations rather than the Act itself.
Mr E Lucas (IFP) questioned if the policies took into account the state of ships entering South Africa’s waters, noting that it was sometimes not worth the owner’s while to try to salvage those that experienced difficulties.

Ms Fakira confirmed that South Africa was a member of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), in addition to being a signatory to the Convention on the Safety of Life at Sea. Therefore it must comply with international regulations. South Africa had its own Maritime Safety Association, SAMSA, and its key function was to inspect ships entering the ports to ensure they complied with the safety standards of the IMO. The Department was required to audit SAMSA on a six monthly basis to ensure that it had fulfilled its function. It was, however, questionable whether every ship that entered the port was inspected, given the volume of ships entering ports every day.

Mr Lucas raised concerns about the overloading of scholar transport vehicles. 

Mr Patel noted that the scholar transport overloading was guided by an economic rationale. The real issue was that the enforcement side was relatively weak.

Mr Lucas noted that the Road Accident Fund (RAF) did not seem to be benefiting the victims of accidents.
Dr Maria du Toit, Deputy Director General, DoT, answered that the Road Accident Fund benefit scheme policy had been approved by Cabinet and had been promulgated for public comment. She suggested that the results of that process could be made available in more detail to the Committee. The main problem was that the legal system required that fault be proven, and then that damages be assessed, which resulted in delays in finalising claims. It had been proposed that the system be changed to become part of an integrated social security system, which could benefit the National Health Insurance. This would also ensure that public money would benefit the claimants and the process would be shortened. The policy had been approved and would be submitted to the Committee as one of the new Bills.

The Chairperson thanked the delegation for the presentation and the responses to questions. She understood that the revised strategic plan was still in draft and further engagement was needed but some of the questions posed would enable the DoT to revise the draft already.

The Chairperson was concerned that the language used in the Strategic Plan was not plain language and would not be easily understood by a person who was not involved in the process. She said it was particularly difficult to isolate how the plans spoke to the priority service delivery areas of the Government, which lay in education, health, safety and security, rural development and job creation. Rural development, and the various programmes within the DoT, were meant to contribute to those deliverables. A delay in any of those could have knock-on effects on other services, including education. She noted in this regard that it was necessary to deal further with the scholar transport programme, particularly around safety specifications of the vehicles.

The Chairperson also commented that there seemed to be limited success in addressing behavioural and societal problems within transport, including abuse of alcohol.

The strategic plan did not say how the DoT planned to reduce the cost of travelling and time that the public spent in travelling. She wondered if the DoT had studied the Committee’s previous reports, including the research and questions raised by members of the Committee. The strategic plan also did not speak to the definition of the Department, or realities of the passengers on the ground.

The meeting was adjourned.


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