Meeting SummaryThe National Department of Transport (DOT) briefing covered road and rail transport, public transport, as well as aviation and maritime transport. Within each type of transport, strategic objectives, key challenges and interventions were highlighted.
Members raised concerns about the condition of roads in SA and their lack of maintenance. It was especially a problem when roads leading to tourist destinations were in a bad shape. The Airports Company of SA (ACSA) high tariffs at airports was another concern as this had a negative impact on tourism. The DOT responded that new legislation dealing with ACSA and Air Traffic Navigation Services (ATNS) was being drafted. Greater detail was asked about DOT’s efforts in revitalising travel by sea and rail which would alleviate congestion on the roads. A Memorandum of Understanding between the DOT and the National Department of Tourism was considered a must if tourism and transport were going to work together.
National Department of Transport (DOT) briefing
The DOT delegation comprised of Mr George Mahlalela Director General, Mr Collen Msibi Chief Director: Office of the Director General, Mr Msondezi Futshane Acting Chief Director: Road Engineering Standards, Mr Sipho Dibakwane Policy Analyst and Acting Director and Mr Masibone Mzwakani Parliamentary Services and Stakeholder Management. The briefing was undertaken by Mr Mahlalela and covered road transport, rail transport, public transport, aviation transport and maritime transport. Within each he highlighted strategic objectives, key challenges and key interventions.
Key strategic objectives included strengthening the regulatory framework governing road maintenance and to ensure that programmes, projects and systems of S’hamba Sonke were mainstreamed into provincial departments of roads and transport.
Some key challenges were the age of the road network, its condition, the lack of funding, and the lack of road condition data and maintenance of a Road Asset Management System.
Key interventions included the formulation of the comprehensive S’hamba Sonke Road Programme and a Road Asset Management System which would be finalised by 2014. Provision had also been made for a conditional grant to provinces for roads known as the Provincial Road Maintenance Grant of 2011. The key pillars of the S’hamba Sonke Road Programme were to increase investment, efficient use of labour, to know the road network, improving access and to have a safe road environment. The Committee was given a breakdown of the number of S’hamba Sonke Programme projects per province.
The key strategic objective was to facilitate and co-ordinate the development of sustainable rail transport policies, rail economic and safety regulation, infrastructure development strategies and systems that reduced system costs and improved customer service.
Key challenges included a capital investments backlog, the increasing need for funds, ageing rail infrastructure and technology as well as ageing rolling stock.
Key interventions were to accelerate the development and implementation of new rail policy for SA, acquire new rolling stock, the reintroduction of railway police and to offer new services/routes.
One of the key strategic objectives was developing integrated public transport networks as outlined in the Public Transport Strategy of 2007. The rollout of the Strategy consisted of two pillars: Pillar 1 entailed the modal upgrading of existing public transport services and Pillar 2 was the provision of integrated rapid public transport networks and rural public transport packages.
Based on current planning there were different interventions per typology. In the main metros for example there would be the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system on multiple main corridors. In other metros or emerging cities there would be full or lite BRT lines.
The key strategic objective was to facilitate the development of an economically viable air transport industry that was safe, secure, efficient, environmentally friendly and compliant with international standards through regulation and investigation and to oversee aviation public entities.
Some key challenges in aviation were safety and security, the implementation of an “open skies” concept in Africa and also the demise of local carriers in the carriage of passenger traffic within SA.
Key interventions included the revision of the airlift strategy and policy framework for SA, the review of the regulatory framework for the Airports Company of SA (ACSA) and Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS) and to effectively regulate air and freight services.
Amongst the strategic objectives was the need to research, analyse and develop maritime transport policies and strategies that promote maritime safety, maritime security, environmental protection, maritime infrastructure planning and maritime industry development.
Key challenges were to ensure the efficiency of passenger liner facilities in ports, capacity constraints to accommodate large volumes of passenger traffic and finally another challenge was major port development projects in Durban, the Port of Ngqura and other ports.
Some key interventions were improved efficiencies and port productivity, to reduce vessel turnaround times, to accelerate the development and implementation of maritime transport policy, to increase port capacity and passenger facilities and to create jobs in the sector.
The Chairperson appreciated the work the DOT had already done but said that a great deal of work still lay ahead. He asked what the DOT’s interaction with other stakeholders besides tourism was. Rail passenger safety was something which needed to be prioritised. Congestion on roads also needed to be addressed as domestic tourism needed to be boosted. The Airports Company of South Africa’s tariffs at airports as well as high parking charges had to be reconsidered. Efficiency and productivity at ports had to be looked at. Targets, turnaround times and projected improvements were information the Committee needed as passenger ships often have to stay at sea due to SA’s ports not being able to accommodate them.
Mr Mahlalela explained that in 2009 a regulation committee for tariff determination for ACSA and ATNS agreed to increase tariffs by 136%. ACSA felt the increase still to be insufficient. The DOT created a steering committee comprising of ACSA, airlines and ATNS to deal with the issue of tariffs. Work was completed in March 2012. The steering committee identified that there was a problem with the determination of tariffs. Legislation relating to tariff determination was also problematic. ACSA invested R17bn to improve airports. ACSA did not receive funding from government; it was funded from income derived through tariffs. The user pay principle was followed.
The Chairperson felt that ACSA had a monopoly on the major airports.
Mr Mahlalela responded that there were major policy issues which needed to be looked. Tariff matters needed reviewing and a balance found between tariffs and fiscal contributions. The DOT had a report which looked at different ways of funding airports. New legislation pertaining to ACSA and ATNS was also being looked at and by the end of 2012 draft legislation would be complete.
Mr L Khorai (ANC) referred to the S’hamba Sonke Programme and wanted specifics on it. What was the strategy of the DOT? He pointed out that one no longer saw workers fixing potholes on roads as one did in the past. In 2010 he had driven along the R59 road and had suffered two punctures. It had cost him R17 500 to replace the two tyres. On another occasion travelling to Bethlehem he suffered damage to his tyres once again and had to fork out R11 000 to replace tyres. What was happening to roads in SA?
Mr Msondezi Futshane Acting Chief Director: Road Engineering Standards, said that S’hamba Sonke Programme had the target of creating 900 000 jobs. Targets and progress was being monitored. Underspending by provinces had been identified.
Ms J Maluleke (ANC) referred to the S’hamba Sonke Programme and asked how the DOT monitored the conditional grant to provinces.
Mr Futshane noted that monitoring was done by way of the Infrastructure Report Module. There were also quarterly and monthly reports in terms of the Division of Revenue Act.
Ms X Makasi (ANC) noted that areas with tourist attractions which the Committee visited often had roads which were in a bad condition. At some point tourists would not visit those tourist attractions where roads were bad. Who was responsible for the upkeep of those roads?
Ms X Bam-Mugwanya (ANC) was frustrated that the same transport issues were still being discussed today as they were in the early democracy days of SA’s national transport forums. Road maintenance was still a huge problem. Good policies were in place but the problem was implementation. The DOT allocated funds to provinces but there was no monitoring of how funds were spent and co-ordination was also lacking. The DOT alluded to the fact that it was considering using local labour to build roads. The problem was that many of those persons were unskilled. In rural areas unemployment was also high. She pointed out that in the past there used to be road work groups which comprised of men from local villages. Was skills development going to take place where local labour was to be used?
Ms M Njobe (COPE) referring to the issue of empowerment, training and skilling of people to participate in transport, noted that very few women were being empowered in the area of transport. In the days of the liberation struggle, ANC cadres had been trained in road construction. Why were persons that had received training not being used?
She asked how the DOT found the competition between the rail and road industry to be. The rail method would be good for tourism but unfortunately progress on rail was very slow. Rail infrastructure was ageing and not maintained. Rail transport was so much more comfortable than minibus taxis. Rail transport needed to be developed. She pointed out that CSIR had developed a new technology for the building of roads which could give roads a lifespan of 30 years. Why was the Departments of Tourism and Transport not encouraging contractors to buy into the new technology? CSIR had complained to members that there was no buy in from government.
Mr Futshane noted that there was a programme dealing with the empowerment of women. Women were being mobilised in all areas of transport. He said that there was a process of standardisation regarding the technology of CSIR. What the DOT could do was to prescribe the labour intensity of a product.
Mr Collen Msibi Chief Director: Office of the Director General, said that an integrated public transport strategy was in place. Issues of competition were being addressed.
Ms C Zikalala (IFP) noted that if provinces were responsible for maintaining their roads then Mpumalanga was falling far short. Mpumalanga Province’s roads were in a dire state. The roads were littered with potholes. She asked whether the Rea Vaya Phase 1 Programme in Johannesburg covered surrounding areas as well or just Johannesburg. What was happening regarding the e-toll system in Gauteng?
Mr Msibi responded that the Rea Vaya Phase 1 Programme covered the surrounding areas of Johannesburg like Tswane and Ekurhuleni as well.
Mr Futshane agreed that the roads in Mpumalanga were bad because of the volume of economic activity taking place in the province. The South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL) had prioritised the fixing of roads in Mpumalanga and a conditional grant had been set aside for it.
Mr R Shah (DA) asked why it had taken so long for a road assessment management policy to be realised. The DOT was operating without a key tool for many years hence the bad condition of SA’s roads. The point was to connect the tourist to his destination.
He asked whether the DOT in developing its “Know your Network Policy” had taken the roads leading to tourist destinations into account given the bad state that they were in. Was tourism taken into account by the Policy?
He referred to the cross-border services provided by the DOT and asked what the nature of the services and stakeholders were. The Three Cities Alliance agreement between Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg were in terms of a limited three-year memorandum of understanding. The success of the alliance depended on the connectivity on road and rail networks. The DOT mentioned maritime interventions which would facilitate coastal shipping. Would the interventions facilitate the movement of persons between coastal cities? Perhaps a public-private partnership should be considered in this regard. It would surely lessen the burden on SA’s roads. Did the DOT have programmes in place to encourage people to move around via the sea route? Regarding the use of local labour in maintenance on roads, he asked would there be a development of skills.
Mr Mahlalela said that the first step was to know the road network hence the need for road asset management. The actual work would be completed by 2014 and by that time the DOT would know the condition of all roads. He added that maritime passenger transport was being considered and it was being encouraged at Durban and Ngqura. The DOT was working on coastal shipping for both freight and passengers.
Mr Futshane, referring to the “Know your Network Policy”, noted that where funds were lacking at provincial level, the Division of Revenue Act provided for R10m to be used to build capacity of road asset management. The DOT had made funds available for provinces to do road condition assessments.
Mr S Farrow (DA) noted that in his view there were approximately six issues which the DOT had to deal with. There was a need for a Memorandum of Understanding between the DOT and the National Department of Tourism. The S’Hamba Sonke Fund conditional grants for roads originally was intended to go to districts and municipalities; it was now in the hands of provinces. Many provinces were handing the responsibility of roads back to Sanral as they lacked the capacity to look after roads. Roads leading to tourist destinations were often in a dire state. There was a backlog of R150bn in the funding required for roads. The impact of e-tolling on the economy and tourist travel also needed to be looked at. He felt that the DOT was not prioritising the airlift strategy enough. Tourists would consider other alternatives if the landing fees of the Airports Company of SA (ACSA) and the Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS) continued to go up by 150%. The legislation on ACSA and ATNS needed to be reconsidered. On the issue of passenger liners, he pointed out that the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) was supposed to handle the registration of ships. When ships docked at SA ports, there were no benefits to tourism in SA. Ships needed to be registered. He reiterated the need for the MOU.
Mr Futshane agreed that an MOU with the National Department of Tourism would help to make the DOT aware of places of interest for tourists which had bad roads. He stated that co-ordination was taking place by way of a committee which sat quarterly. The South African Local Government Association, National Treasury and Sanral were some of the organisations sitting on the committee. There were also forums which dealt specifically with roads. The DOT was trying to influence the municipal sphere. However to drive a strategy, statistics were needed. The DOT had started with the 21 districts that had been identified by President Zuma. An amount of R1.7m had been allocated in 2011 to conduct road assessments. The first phase was to identify what the road was for and thereafter capacity building would take place.
Mr Mahlalela conceded that the DOT on roads, in the past, had been operating in silos. The funding and capacity building was operating at different levels. There had been no co-ordination but in the last two years the DOT had addressed the issue. The focus was now on a road network. Funding was still disjointed. The S’hamba Sonke Programme tried to leverage the funding across the network. The DOT was trying to drive the process to know the entire network. He emphasised that national was assisting provinces regarding roads by taking over responsibility on some of them. The long term plan was for national to be responsible for 36 000 km of road. The figure was currently sitting at 18 200km.
He conceded that the major prioritisation of roads had always been health, education but never tourism. This was however going to change.
He noted that civil aviation was about the airlift strategy. The review of the airlift strategy was a joint effort by the Departments of Transport, Tourism and Public Works. He admitted that SA did not have a ships registration register. The DOT was finalising the Maritime Ship Policy which was supposed to address the issue. The shipping industry was a highly competitive industry. Countries like Liberia and Panama were huge in ship registrations. Britain and the USA were deregistering in huge numbers. There were two types of registrations. The first was open registrations where a ship could be registered in SA and elsewhere or closed registrations where the ship could only be registered in SA.
The Chairperson said reviewing the air lift strategy could lead to greater competition which in turn could bring prices down.
Mr Mahlalela said that the air lift strategy was a complex process and that the DOT would deal with the issue at a later time. He did venture to say that the airlift strategy was also to be reviewed. The airline sector was facing serious challenges. South African Airways even asked government for funding. Low cost airlines were facing problems. He felt 1Time airlines could face problems at any time. The input cost of fuel was what was killing airlines. Low cost airlines even asked the DOT for assistance.
Mr F Bhengu (ANC) stated that once legislation was passed, regulations followed. Did the two speak to one another? The National Development Plan was in place to see to it that things happened. It was all good and well to have policies in place but the problem lay in implementation. He agreed that an MOU between the DOT and the NDT was needed. A programme of action was needed. Tourism and job creation worked hand in hand. Government departments needed to communicate with one another. Intergovernmental relations from national to municipal level were needed. He highlighted the fact that tourists complain about being harassed by minibus taxi drivers. The driving by taxi drivers was also appalling. Who monitored the way taxi drivers drove?
The Chairperson asked if DOT had considered charging toll fees only for trucks as they were the ones which damaged roads. He said that there needed to be incentives for low cost aviation. He asked if premier classes in trains like the Blue Train were advertised. He felt the reintroduction of railway police to be a step in the right direction. The issue of potholes on South African roads needed to be addressed.
Mr Futshane stated that potholes were a common occurrence on roads because the roads were old. Funding for national roads sat with national, provincial roads with provinces and municipal roads with municipalities. The “Know your Network Policy” was developed to keep the DOT informed about its roads. The timeframe for the completion of the Policy was March 2013. Consultation with provinces, the SA Local Government Association and CSIR had taken place. Municipalities would be consulted in September /October 2012. The policy would shed light on how Municipal Infrastructure Grant funds were to be spent. The issue of capacity would also be addressed. The S’hamba Sonke Programme, which was a provincial grant, related to road construction and there was one year to complete projects. The idea behind S’hamba Sonke was to ensure the preservation of the road network. Referring to trucks which damaged roads he said that the overload control strategy was aimed at addressing this. The problem was that truckers had wised up and were using alternative provincial and municipal roads.
Mr Mahlalela replied that more work could be done on promoting business express classes in trains.
Mr Msibi stated that there were already 5000 railway police officers in place. Their job was to combat crime and to tackle fare evasion.
Ms Manganye (ANC) referred to the R10 road from Rustenburg to Thabazimbi and said that she had never seen anyone fixing the road. What were the timeframes for the Road Asset Management Strategy? Were committees in place which enabled interaction with stakeholders?
Mr Futshane agreed to check on who was responsible for maintaining the road pointed out by Ms Manganye.
Ms Bam-Mugwanya said that perhaps there should be co-ordination of efforts in the prioritisation of roads. The names of important roads in the tourism industry could be provided to the DOT. She asked how DOT factored in subsidisation of sport.
Ms Njobe pointed out that some towns along the N2 national road on route to Transkei had bad roads and was difficult to travel through. Umtata was one such town. She asked was it not possible to build roads which would allow one to bypass towns.
Mr Mahlalela stated a written response would be provided by DOT to questions which remained unanswered.
The Chairperson stated that a multi-stakeholder forum was needed to deal with issues. Effect should be given to the New Growth Path and the New Development Plan. Traditional job creators like mining should be moved away from and new job creators like tourism should be considered.
The meeting was adjourned.
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