National Railway Safety Regulator Bill: discussion; Taxi Recapitalisation; Road Infrastructure Strategic Framework: briefing by

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Transport

22 May 2002
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Meeting report

TRANSPORT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
22 May 2002
NATIONAL RAILWAY SAFETY REGULATOR BILL: DELIBERATIONS; RECAPITALISATION: BRIEFING BY DEPARTMENT

Chairperson: Mr J Cronin (ANC)

Documents Handed Out:
Presentation on Minibus-Taxi Recapitalisation
Road Infrastructure Strategic Framework for South Africa (e-mail
info@pmg.org.za for document)

Other documents:
Draft: Policy, Strategy and Implementation

SUMMARY
The Committee was briefed on the taxi-recapitalisation process. The general purpose of the recapitalisation process is to restructure the taxi industry into more formal and well-regulated economic activity. This process seems slow but progress is being made in certain areas. Negotiations between the Department of Transport, Department of Trade and Industry and SATACO, which is representing the taxi operators, are continuing. There has however, been a deadlock. SATACO remains suspicious of the government's involvement in the procurement of the electronic management system.

The Committee was also briefed on the Road Infrastructure Strategic Framework for South Africa. The current policy research is an attempt to redress the inadequacies in SA's road infrastructure, from a policy point of view.

MINUTES
National Railway Safety Regulator Bill

The Committee did not discuss the National Railway Safety Regulator Bill, as currently amended by the Select Committee, fully. The Chairperson merely highlighted the major changes made to the Bill, especially the changes with regard to the functions of the Regulator.

Presentation on Taxi Recapitalisation
Ms Antoinette Nothnagel explained that the minibus-taxi recapitalisation process by National Government is divided into two, namely new electronic management system (EMS) and new taxi vehicle (NTV). The general purpose of the recapitalisation process is to restructure the taxi industry into more formal and well regulated economic activity. She pointed out that although the this process seemed slow, progress was being made in certain areas. All the stakeholders were represented in a series of meetings pertaining to the recapitalisation process. The negotiations continued between the Department of Transport , Department of Trade and Industry and SATACO, which is representing the taxi operators. During these discussions, a serious deadlock was reached in connection with EMS. The DTI issued a tender to service providers to bid for the electronic management system, the move was forestalled by SATACO.

It is SATACO's view that government must not procure the provision of the electronic system as they see it as prerogative of taxi operators to oversee the tendering process. This subsequently led to a deadlock, as government also regards itself as major stakeholder in the recapitalisation process. SATACO wants to drive the EMS process without intervention by government. She pointed out that the negotiating team has a representative from the Office of the Presidency to ensure that the new taxi vehicles are suitable for the disabled. However she cautioned that Minister of Transport expressed the view that if government cannot handle procurement of EMS, it will be difficult for them to proceed with recapitalisation.

The recapitalisation process is not only about EMS, but also include infrastructure requirements. The Department of Transport recognised the need to upgrade some of taxi ranks which are in deteriorating state. She said that costs for modifying some of these ranks is estimated at approximately R40 million. Furthermore she noted that there's need for capacity building at provincial level. The new taxi vehicles suggested by government will be sold to taxi operators. These operators will be assisted by banking fraternity to lessen the financial burden, whereas government will be facilitating the process.

Discussion
Mr Slabbert (IFP) reiterated his opposition to the taxi recapitalisation process and wanted to know what is forestalling progress.

Mr Cronin replied that the major hurdle seemed to be the tendering process around EMS. The taxi industry is currently a non- tax paying industry and government wants to regulate and formalise it for such purposes. But the representative of the taxi industry, SATACO, viewed participation of government as ploy to assume control and management of the industry. Their position is that government cannot be a player and referee simultaneously and thus a deadlock exists.

Mr Mudau (ANC) asked why there are discrepancies in relation to the lifting of moratorium on provinces. He also asked whether it was not possible to invite SATACO to come and make a submission before the Committee.

Ms Nothnagel answered and said that discrepancies are a result of capacity problems in different provinces and said some provinces failed to provide information on Be Legal.

Mr Cronin replied to the latter and said that his Committee has interacted with SATACO's predecessors in the past and would ideally like to have them before the Committee. But the Committee would not like to be seen as hijacking this delicate process.

Mr Magubane (ANC) suggested that training be in indigenous languages, especially in rural KwaZulu Natal on the recapitalisation process. This training must educate taxi operators about the national significance of this process to avoid it being viewed with hostility.

Mr Farrow (DP) expressed concern over delays in regulating the taxi industry, given the road accidents caused by unlicensed operators. Therefore he appealed for an effort by the Department to speed up this process.

Ms Nothnagel said it appeared that SATACO will like to see government withdrawal from the EMS-process and solely engage in the tendering process and enter into partnership with a consortium of service providers. She also expressed concern that the new taxi vehicles may not be bought by taxi operators. These are the kinds of anomalies that have plagued the process.

Presentation on Road Infrastructure Strategic Framework for South Africa
Mr Sipho Khumalo read through his document (attached here). He highlighted the policy framework proposed by the Department of Transport and ongoing research on road development and maintenance in SA. He pointed out the lack of funding for road development and maintenance as an impediment towards better road infrastructure for the country. Evidence showed that 90% of our roads are in general state of deterioration. Therefore the current policy research is an attempt to redress the inadequacies in our road infrastructure, from a policy point of view.

Mr Slabbert asked what criteria is being used to determine which roads are national and which are provincial. He followed and asked about cases in which a road has been mistakenly classified as provincial, whose responsibility is it: National or Provincial government.

Mr Khumalo replied and said that consent of provincial authority is critical in this regard but the basis of the criteria will provide guide in terms of classifying roads as either national or provincial. Routes that were considered to had been linked to economic growth and those, which were used by army, were national roads.

Mr Mudau (ANC) asked if there is no mechanism in place to monitor the implementation of programmes initiated by the Department. The Chairperson said the purpose of the presentation was to urge Members to make input on policy studies.

Mr Cronin raised the issue of coordinating activities of all parties involved in road development and maintenance. Thus the Department of Transport must continue to liaise with the Treasury to amass the necessary funding. However he expressed concern that the Department of Transport seemed to be like a "voice in the wilderness", in its endeavours to implement policy on roads.

Mr Farrow (DP) proposed that some money raised from licenses be reinvested in road development and maintenance.

The meeting was adjourned.

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