Department of Transport 2012 Strategic Plan

NCOP Public Services

13 March 2012
Chairperson: Mr M Sibande (ANC, Mpumalanga)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Transport (DOT) presented its strategic plan for 2012 to the Committee, noting that it was a SMART based plan with defined outcomes, that repositioned the Department from a policy making department, to one that implemented and coordinated. The strategic plan highlighted the six anticipated outcomes of the Department, which were aligned to government outcomes ifor transport, and then went on to discus the seven programmes of Administration, Integrated Transport Planning, Rail Transport, Road Transport, Civil Aviation, Maritime Transport and Public Transport, setting out strategic objectives  and challenges. Specific projects for implementation, with timelines, were highlighted under each of these programmes. Under the Rail Transport Programme, some of the specific plans included the development of the Rail Transport Policy, establishment of a Rail Economic Regulator and reduction of accidents and incidents in the rail network. For the Road Transport Programme, the learner license, S’hamba Sonke programme and implementation of a zero alcohol level policy on drivers were specifically highlighted.  In the Maritime Transport Programme, the DOT had embarked on skill development for seafarers, through partnerships with the Durban University and Cape Town University of Technology, and was seeking to correct perceptions about skills required in this sector.  Programme objectives of the Public Transport Programme included ensuring public transport industry development, developing integrated rapid public transport networks in twelve cities, and providing efficient and effective scholar transport systems.

The members noted their concerns and questioned why the Department’s strategic plan focused on urban transport, seemingly at the expense of rural transport, pointing out that the majority of those dependent on public transportation systems were in the rural areas. They asked about the Department’s plan for transport infrastructure in the rural areas. Members questioned the visibility of traffic officers in certain provinces and municipalities, and the apparent discrepancies as to their working hours. Members also questioned why some of the Department’s campaigns, such as the ‘Drive Alive Campaign’, were seemingly not sustained year round, and were only visible during holiday seasons. Members sought clarification from the Department over the contentious E-tolling issue. Members also called for further details on the scholar transport, and asked which department bore responsibility for the scheme, and pointed out that this scheme did not seem to be functioning properly in the rural areas. Members were also quite critical of the fact that they had not been kept up to date on the cross-border transport problems between Lesotho and South Africa, noted the Department’s response that the Cross Border Road Transport Agency had a mandate, but felt that the DOT could not assign away all its responsibilities to an Agency on such issues. Members asked if the performance agreement of the Director General and Minister was in alignment with the performance agreement between the Minister and President. Members also asked what agencies were failing to cooperate, what issues affected line functions, how the Department intended to address corruption in the licensing offices, and what was planned for individuals who could not take up loan facilities.

Meeting report

Department of Transport Strategic Plan 2012 briefing
Mr Rajesh Jock, Deputy Director General, Department of Transport, presented the 2012 Strategic Plan, stating that this was a SMART-based plan with defined outcomes. The Department of Transport (DOT or the Department) was to change from merely being a policy-making department to one that implemented and coordinated. Since 2009, the DOT had delivered six main outcomes, across seven programmes.

He briefly described that the Department aimed to achieve an efficient and integrated transport infrastructure network for social and economic development, to achieve a safe transport sector, to improve rural access, infrastructure and mobility, and to improve public transport systems. It aimed to increase the contribution to job creation, and attend to environmental sustainability.

He then proceded to outline the work of the seven programmes (see attached presentation for fujll details). Programme 1: Administration had three sub-programmes. Transport Information Systems was responsible for twelve agencies that made up the intelligent integrated transport information hub of the Department. Enterprise Portfolio Management served as the monitoring and evaluation tool for catalytic transport projects aligned to infrastructure programmes, particularly those highlighted in the State of the Nation Address by the President. The Communication and Stakeholder Management centred primarily around key stakeholder engagement.

Programme 2: Integrated Transport Planning Programme was made up of five key areas- macro sector planning, logistics, modelling and economic analysis, research and innovation and regional integration.

Programme 3: Rail Transport attended to coordination of policy and safety, ensured infrastructure development in the rail sector, aimed to reduce the cost of running a rail service, and ensure proper customer service. It assumed monitoring and oversight roles over implementation of integrated rail services. Specific projects related to development of the Rail Transport Policy, establishment of a Rail Economic Regulator and reduction of accidents and incidents in the rail network.

Programme 4: Road Transport was established to regulate road traffic management, ensure maintenance and development of an integrated road network, and deal with standards and guidelines that applied to road agencies and provincial roads. The Department aimed to ensure that every school leaver graduated from school with a learner driver’s licence. Specific projects under this programme included a district-based programme for obtaining the learner’s license in schools, in conjunction with the Department of Basic Education, amendments to the National Roads Act to incorporate periodic checking on the roadworthiness of vehicles, a zero alcohol limit for drivers, the S’hamba Sonke road programme to deliver provincial road maintenance, and establishment of 70 additional Live Capture Units at Driving Licence Test Centres.

Programme 5: Civil Aviation aimed to facilitate the development of an economically viable air industry that was safe, secure, efficient, environmentally friendly and compliant with international standards, and to exercise oversight duties for agencies operating in the sector. The Department had entered into negotiations with eight countries to review bilateral air service agreements.

Programme 6: Maritime Transport was charged with the responsibility to ensure that maritime policy strategy was implemented, and exercised oversight over maritime safety, security and environmental protection standards. It coordinated infrastructure development in the maritime sector. The Strategic Plan projects included the establishment of maritime transport policy and legislation framework, improvements to maritime safety and security, creation of jobs through improved capacity and systems to develop seafarers, promotion of economic initiatives in the maritime transport sector and reducing sea pollution. Skills development of seafarers would be achieved through partnerships with the Durban University and Cape Town University of Technology, to ensure that curricula offered were in keeping with global trends and standards. There was a challenge in attracting enough skilled personnel to this programme.

Programme 7: Public Transport, aimed to promote a safe, reliable effective, efficient, coordinated, integrated and environmentally friendly public transport system. It regulated inter-provincial public transport and tourism services, and monitored and evaluated the implementation of the Public Transport Strategy and National Land Transport Act. It aimed to ensure public transport industry development, develop integrated rapid public transport networks in twelve cities, and provide efficient and effective scholar transport systems.

Mr Z Mlenzana (COPE, Eastern Cape) asked why the Department seemed to employ so many consultants, and asked if there were no qualified personnel in the Department who could perform these services, and whether they could not be acquired through upskilling employees.

Mr Jock replied that the Department was working with the Auditor-General (AG) to identify areas where it was over reliant on outsourcing, and was also putting plans in place to recruit for these areas. DOT, in conjunction with the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), also hoped to employ people with these specific skills on long term contracts. The DOT had a Memorandum of Understanding with thirteen institutions of higher learning, and had provided bursaries for students interested in studying particular areas that were of interest to the DOT, such as Transport Economics, Transport Engineering and so on.

Mr Mlenzana questioned the Department’s budgetary allocation for transport infrastructure in the rural areas.

The Chairperson similarly noted his concern that the Department’s strategic plan focused on urban transport, seemingly at the expense of rural transport, and pointed out that the majority of the population who were dependent on public transportation systems lived in the rural areas. He asked what the Department’s plan was for transport infrastructure in the rural areas, particularly in the Northern and Eastern Cape.

Mr M Jacobs (ANC, Free State) also noted that the Department’s strategic plan failed to show that the Department would aggressively address the infrastructure network in the rural areas.

Mr Jock responded that the decrease in budgetary allocation for rural areas was not reflective of a budget cut. In fact, spending in the rural areas had grown by 1% and in the urban areas by 4% to 6%. He said the Department’s strategic plan would be readjusted to reflect more to be done in the rural areas.

Mr Mlenzana asked the Department what role it would like the Committee members to play in preparation for the DOT October Transport Month.

Mr Jock apologised that the Department had not kept Members updated on the progress of the plans for the October Transport Month. There was a planning forum in place and the Department would like the Committee to be involved with aspects of planning, as deemed necessary.

Mr Mlenzana questioned why DOT road traffic officials were more visible in certain provinces or municipalities than in others, and also more visible at certain times. For instance, in one town in the Eastern Cape, the officers had said, in the media, that their working hours were 08:00 to 16:00. In another town, officers were still seen on the roads long past 16:00. He also wanted to know why certain traffic campaigns, such as “Drive Alive” were only visible during major holiday periods, yet almost non-existent at other times of the year.

Mr O De Beer (COPE, Western Cape) also noted that some Traffic Officers had little or no visibility in certain provinces and municipalities.

Dr Maria Du Toit, Deputy Director General: Corporate Services, DOT, responded that the Shareholder Committee of the Road Traffic Management Corporation was charged with the responsibility of traffic officers, and could best answer the questions on their working hours. The hours were set in consultation with each province and municipality, rather than there being an autonomous approach by the Shareholder Committee to enforce set working hours. 

Mr T Mashiloane, Acting Director: Strategic Planning, DOT, added that the various road safety campaigns of the Department were never stopped at any point, but would rather be intensified during seasons when the Department believed that traffic flow was greatly increased.

Mr Jacobs suggested to the Department that willingness to work shifts should be made one of the conditions of service of traffic officers.

Mr Mlenzana questioned the Department on the issue of declassification and reclassification of roads and wanted to know the Department’s stand on this.

Mr Jock requested that the Department be given ample time to respond to this question more appropriately at another meeting.

Mr Mlenzana suggested to Members that the Committee should deal with the Department’s challenges around the delay in approval of draft Bills.

Mr M Jacobs (ANC, Free State) asked if the performance agreement of the Director General
and Minister was aligned with that between the Minister and the President.

Mr Mashiloane confirmed that the Performance Agreements were aligned with each other.

Mr Jacobs asked what the Department’s strategy was to resolve issues of poor coordination between the Provincial and the National departments.

Mr Jock replied that coordination at national and provincial levels was necessary to address this issue. Although there was a plan to coordinate, the emphasis of the Department was more on implementation. By partnering with Provinces and agencies, the DOT hoped to achieve better co-ordination. There was a plan to launch a National Planning Forum of the Department.

Mr Jacobs sought clarification from the Department on the contentious E-tolling issue.

Mr Jock noted that this was a sensitive area of debate and the Department had conceded that the Gauteng model may not be the best model for future use. He stressed the need to find a good balance, and possible political intervention. The matter remained under discussion at the DOT, and \it would try to ensure that there was a clear policy framework to expand infrastructure needs without setting too enormous a burden for government.

Mr Jacobs asked if the Department was monitoring the S’hamba Sonke road project and whether the Department was ensuring that funds disbursed for the project were actually being utilised for this project.

Mr Mashiloane replied that the provinces reported to the Department on a monthly basis on the project. Their reports covered areas such as expenditure. To date, reports from the various provinces covered all required details.

Mr Jacobs felt that it was not enough for the DOT to merely request reports from the provinces. He felt that the DOT should make oversight visits to all project sites, to confirm that these projects were actually being carried out.

Mr Jacobs noted that people from disadvantaged backgrounds were not properly represented in the maritime industry, and he asked what the Department intended to do to get them involved.

Mr Mlenzana also asked the Department to elaborate on its targets and progress so far as regard job creation.

Mr Jock responded that there was a general misconception that people needed to be artisans if they were to break into the maritime industry. This was being addressed, in conjunction with the Department of Basic Education, and the DOT had received approval to run a transport course that could be included into the school curriculum. The DOT was also offering students opportunities for tours to all transport sites.

Mr Jacobs added that, even more than educating students on the opportunities in the maritime industry, the Department should ensure that disadvantaged persons actually became involved in the business of the maritime industry.

Mr Jacobs asked how the Department intended to address the issues of coordination, reliability and safety of the public transport system. He noted that, regretfully, incidences of deaths on the road were far too high, and asked whether the Department had a strategy to reduce these deaths to zero.

Mr Jock responded that there were already plans in the Department to refurbish train coaches, which was intended to encourage people to use train transport. These planned refurbishment would impact on the speed of the trains, and should go a long way to reducing train delays increasing their reliability. The Department was considering alternative means, such as high occupancy vehicles, to decongest the roads and to encourage people to use alternative public forms of transport.

Mr Jacobs applauded the Learner Driver Licence initiative of the Department and suggested that it be rolled out across all provinces.

Mr Jock replied that, although this was not specifically noted in the Department’s presentation, the initiative was spread across all the provinces, although not all provinces had equal distribution of sites at the moment, because this was a phased project.

Mr Jacobs highlighted the fact that Traffic Officers had neither ID cars nor ID numbers sewn into their uniforms, so it was difficult to identify fake officers on the road.

The Chairperson noted that the Committee had earlier requested the Department to initiate an interdepartmental enquiry into Scholar Transport. He wanted to know which of the two departments was responsible for the scheme.

Mr Jacobs also asked what the Department was doing to address issues affecting scholar transport, pointing out that this scheme was mostly not functional in the rural areas.

Mr Jock responded that it was the duty of the National Department of Transport to provide guidelines regarding scholar transport, while the Department of Basic Education and the Provincial Road Transport Authorities were to see to its implementation. The Department had launched a Transport Education Training Programme, to train drivers involved in scholar transport.

The Chairperson asked what the Department’s strategy was to unify the mini bus system.

Mr Mashiloane replied that one of the reasons for introducing licensing was to address the issues surrounding competition in the mini bus system. There were unresolved issues around delays in issuing of operating licensesm and illegal taxi driversm which the Department must still resolve.

The Chairperson raised his concerns about the Lesotho/South Africa cross border disputes. While the Committee was paying an oversight visit to the Free State, Members noted the perception that traffic officers seemed to have a bias towards citizens of neighbouring states, rather than South African citizens. He asked that the Department must make attempts to speed up the feedback process. He also asked what the Department’s role was in ensuring that South Africans were adequately protected from aggression by people from Lesotho.

Dr du Toit stated that the cross border issue between Lesotho and South Africa was a difficult and politicised issue. The legislative competency to deal with these issues rested with the Cross Border Road Transport Agency, and there needed to be consideration given to whether the legislation should be amended to give powers to the DOT. The DOT needed a mandate to start this process, and she suggested that the issues had to be escalated to a higher level. She noted that the DOT lacked the proper capacity to deal with security issues.

The Chairperson responded that the border issue was very disturbing to Members, especially since, prior to this presentation, the DOT had never given any formal response to the Committee, despite previously having been asked to do so. He strongly suggested that the Department must take up the matter directly with the Minister, and that if any legislative amendments were necessary, the Committee would be able to intervene.

Mr Jacobs added that the Department needed to identify what exactly the root cause of the border issue was.

Mr Mlenzana was of the opinion that the real problem was that power was given to agencies who should ordinarily report to the Department, but failed to do so. In this case, he believed that the DOT had lost control of the issues.

Mr De Beer stated that he did not believe the Department of Transport could shift its mandate to regulate on border control issues to any agency.

The Chairperson noted that the DOT, during its presentation, had highlighted non cooperation from other agencies as one of its communication programme challenges. He asked which agencies in particular were not cooperating with the Department.

Mr Jock replied that not all the challenges highlighted in the Department’s presentation were current issues. Some were included in the presentation as possible risk factors, which was the reason why future mitigation strategies had also been proposed in the presentation.

The Chairperson asked what issues affected the Department’s line functions, and what intervention mechanisms the Department had to address corruption in the licensing offices.

Mr De Beer asked what plans the Department had for individuals who could not take up loan facilities at banks.

The Chairperson thanked the Department for its presentation and stated that the Department should respond, in writing to questions that it had not managed to address, within seven days.

The meeting was adjourned.


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