Department of Transport Strategic Plans 2013

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14 May 2013
Chairperson: Ms N Bhengu (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The purpose of the meeting was primarily for the Department of Transport (DOT) to present its budget for 2013 through to 2015, although there were brief presentations also on the strategic objectives for each of the programmes, following on a workshop held previously with the Committee. The DOT focused on Government Outcome 6 – development of efficient, competitive and responsible infrastructure networks. The main targets fell into the categories of upgrading secondary road networks, the numbers for weekday bus rapid transit passengers, the implementation of the national household travel survey, and the intention to establish a single transport economic regulator. The rail transport policy was also very important. The White Paper should be adopted this year. The National Airports Development Plan was also important to establish medium and long term plans. It was noted that the National Development Plan (NDP) set out a number of recommendations for the transport sector, including integration of public transport and social plans, via the public transport infrastructure grant and the public transport networks operation grant, both of which would help to emphasise public transport networks rather than individual modes. Safety and security in all areas of transport were emphasised, and the National Regulator was another priority. There had been a ten-year allocation to renew the commuter rail fleet, infrastructure and service. The DOT was to receive around R42 million but transfers, over the medium term, accounted for 96.1% of the budget. For this reason, DOT had taken a conscious decision to seek more funding to strengthen its staff, and thereby its monitoring capacity for better oversight over the public entities to whom it made the transfers, and National Treasury had responded by increases to compensation of employees, but reductions on goods and services. Throughout the presentation, integration and better planning was a major theme. Mention was also made of the need to harmonise standards across countries, cross-border and in the maritime and civil aviation space, and DOT was also doing studies into innovative, improved and environmentally sustainable transport systems. Each of the programmes gave a brief presentation on their key projects and budget priorities for the forthcoming year, before a more detailed presentation was given on the budgets, with comparative figures also to the previous financial year, by line item and by economic classification, with detailed explanations for the changes.

The Chairperson asked why the Deputy Director General for Maritime matters was not present, and whilst she accepted the explanation that this official was deputising at a high-level meeting involving the International Maritime Organisation, she noted that the Committee had previously expressed its concern that officials from the DOT were perhaps not showing enough respect for this Committee, by sending more junior officials, failing to stay for whole meetings, or failing to notify the Committee of a change of presenter in advance. Members asked questions of clarity on the budget, questioned the apparent disjuncture between this presentation and one given by SANRAL, on the state of road networks, and commented that the target for increasing passenger rail needed to be increased to keep pace with much higher increases of road users that were happening now. Members asked about the shift from road to rail, particularly for coal haulage, and the progress, urged a greater focus on full spending, were pleased to hear of new driver training programmes, but urged that DOT must focus on producing good and safe drivers, and a number of possibilities, including programmes being successfully run in Eastern countries, and probationary periods, were put forward. Members enquired if new technology would allow for monitoring of drivers constantly, in their cars, to discourage poor driving and suggested that in some provinces there appeared to be problems with the licensing with a prevalence of poor driving skills. A question on landing rights at airports was not responded to. Members wondered what alternatives there were for taxi recapitalisation, and were appreciative of the changed focus for subsidies. 

Meeting report

Department of Transport: Budget and Strategic Plans 2013 to 2015
The Chairperson noted that the Department had been asked to present its budget and link it to the strategic objectives already outlined.

Dr Marta du Toit, Acting Director General, Department of Transport (DOT or the Department), noted that the presentation would firstly give an outline of the performance indicators in the Estimates of National Expenditure (ENE). The particulars of the budget would explain capital expenditure, transfers and other forms of subsidies and the donor funding and grants. The objectives of each programme would also be highlighted, following the workshop with the Committee.

Dr du Toit set out a table of the selected performance indicators. The Department mainly focused on Government Outcome 6, to develop an efficient, competitive and responsible infrastructure network. The indicators included the kilometres of secondary road network in poor and very poor condition that would be upgraded, the number of average weekday bus rapid transit passengers, through Rea Vaya in Johannesburg and My Citi in Cape Town, and the implementation of the national household travel survey, which was important for planning and projections. One of the major projects had been the establishment of a single transport economic regulator. This had been thoroughly researched and the DOT was now able to follow up on that and start drafting the position paper. This would have to be considered from economic, regulatory and impact viewpoints, and it had been supported in concept. The rail transport policy was very important, with direction from this Department. The White Paper should be adopted in this financial year. The National Airports Development Plan was also important to establish medium and long term plans. It was intended to establish two municipal and provincial transport regulatory entities in the next two years, and one for 2015/16.

Mr Dan Pienaar, Acting Chief Financial Officer, Department of Transport, noted that slide 5 indicated how the budget supported the national development plan, emphasising sound economic infrastructure as a precondition for social and economic growth. There had been major recommendations for transport in the National Development Plan (NDP), including integration of public transport and social plans, via the public transport infrastructure grant and the public transport networks operation grant, the latter being a new grant introduced in the medium term, which also allowed for some operational expenditure to support the infrastructure grant. This would ensure that emphasis was placed on the public transport networks rather than individual modes. The emphasis on asset management was clear and strongly supported in the Provincial Roads Maintenance Grant and the Rural Roads Asset Management Systems Grant, and Division of Revenue Act (DORA) also emphasised certain obligations, including publication of expenditure and projects. The third recommendation of the NDP was that institutional arrangements be made, and that the DOT must ensure safe, reliable and affordable public transport, and that included cities and metropolitan areas. The National Public Transport Regulator was another priority, as indicated. There was a ten-year allocation to renew the commuter rail fleet and infrastructure and service. The major expenditure of the Department lay in road, rail infrastructure and public transport infrastructure and all the infrastructure expenditure was paid to the South African Roads Agency Limited(SANRAL). These transfers accounted for 96.1% of the total budget over the medium term. (See attached document for all comparative figures).

Mr Mawethu Vilana, Deputy Director General: Integrated Transport Planning, Department of Transport, said that it was important for Programme 2, to ensure that planning would talk to integration. Multi-modal transport planning was being done on an ongoing basis, by developing an enabling consolidated transport-planning databank, developing legislation and seeking to establish a national transport planning forum by 2015. Transport was a multi-sectoral issue, and structures set up across all provinces would help with this. A number of objectives were more fully set out on the slides (see attached presentation). Socio-economic challenges faced the transport sector, and he explained that it was difficult to set indicators. Cross-border systems also raised physical infrastructure problems, and there were also issues around trade. The borders posed several challenges for movement of people and goods in the modern context, and it might be appropriate for SANRAL to play a greater role in cross-border movement. Each of the eleven agencies currently at the border posts had a different mandate and this did create some problems, so the functions needed to converge better. A freight optimisation plan had been developed, and the DOT would be focusing on the South African / Maseru border post in the coming year. DOT wanted to harmonise international standards by the end of 2013. DOT was also doing studies into innovative and applicable technologies or improved and environmentally sustainable transport systems. Evidence based transport planning and policy making were to be conducted. The results from the household travel survey should be published by the end of the 2013/14 year.

In the medium term, this programme would be focusing on the single transport economic regulator, macro-planning framework, the national freight corridor framework, update of the national freight database, and the completion and analysis of the National Household Travel Survey.

Mr Jan-Dawid de Villiers, Deputy Director General: Rail, DOT, outlined the capital expenditure budget for the rail sector, noting that this included substantial investment in rolling stock. He noted that these budget figures (see attached presentation) excluded the PRASA upgrades. R2.1 billion would be spent on rolling stock and R814 million on signaling, and more on line capacity. On the operational side, a service level agreement would be put into operation, with PRASA, by December 2013. The metros would also provide some rail services. The White Paper process would enhance the efficiencies and reliability of the rail transport sector. There was inter-governmental consultation ongoing at the moment, and the Green Paper was being taken forward to the White Paper, and then to the Rail Bill. Policy objectives included reducing logistical costs of freight movement from 50.4% to 41%, and increasing passenger rail volumes by 2.5% annually. The final strategy related to ensuring safety.

Major projects within this programme included the feasibility study on the Moloto Corridor. The new rolling stock should be procured by June or July. DOT would be developing the Rail Policy and Bill. It would be establishing the Interim Rail Economic Regulator capacity, through negotiations between the Ministers of Public Enterprises and Minister of Transport. The interim regulator would, on establishment

Mr Chris Hlabisa, Deputy Director General: Roads, DOT, presented on Programme 4.  He noted that the programme intended to maintain and preserve the existing road network, and reduce the kilometres that were currently classed as "very poor" condition, raising this classification to "poor”. In 2010, there were 65 995 kilometres classed as “very poor” but the target was to have only 51 000 in this classification by 2014.

Mr Hlabisa noted that the DOT would not only be focusing with primary roads, but would also concentrate on maintaining and preserving coal haulage roads. A presentation had been given on these roads, which were situated in Mpumalanga and Gauteng. By 2014, DOT would rehabilitate 2 156 kilometres of the roads, and would be monitoring the spending and performance by the SANRAL and provincial roads departments in the relevant provinces. It would be engaging with Transnet and Eskom to facilitate the ongoing migration of coal from road to rail. It would be providing grant funding, on an ongoing basis, and ensuring the use of updated road asset management systems in all provinces by 2013/14, and at local government level for the initial 22 district municipalities by 2014/15. It would also be assisting a further seven district municipalities. It would be helping 21 district municipalities to develop non-motorised transport infrastructure and facilities, including helping children to get to school and developing plans and guidelines for design, and monitoring implementation. This programme would also support Millennium Development Goals to reduce accidents and incidents. In 2011, there had been 14 000 deaths on the roads, and it was hoped to reduce this, by 50%, by 2020.

He indicated that the main spending focus over the medium term was transferring money to SANRAL and provinces for capital investment and road maintenance, to provide a reliable road network to reduce poor conditions, and to monitor implementation of identified projects. The capital roads projects of SANRAL would be costing R714.7 million in 2014/15, rising to R736.2 million in 2015/16, because it would be including additional roads from Eastern Cape and North West.

Further projects included provision of driving licence instructions to high schools, with the aim of training 2 250 students in driving skills by the end of 2013/14. The driving school industry would be reviewed, as would the training manual, with the intention of reducing road accidents and creating a new, and safer generation of drivers. The framework for road networks would be developed and managed, and provinces would be assisted with their development. The DOT needed to create a pool of technical expertise. Road engineering norms and standards would be developed and updated, with a heavy emphasis on quality assurance. A road asset management system and guidelines would be developed.

Mr Zakhele Thwala, Deputy Director General: Civil Aviation, DOT, addressed the Committee on Programme 5. He noted that civil aviation was framed on four deliverables. The first was improving quality and credibility of accident and incident investigation, through the establishment of an independent accident and incident investigation body. This would be the focus on funding for the year. Secondly, there was a need to improve civil aviation safety and security continually, through complying with existing and new standards and recommended practices of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the Federal Aviation Administration. In this year, ICAO was going to audit South Africa. DOT had asked for a pre-audit, which had been completed. DOT would ensure effective and integrated economic infrastructure by concluding the consultative process for the national airports development plan. There were, currently, airports in different classes; some fell under the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA), others had belonged to the former Bantustans, and some were in cities. DOT wanted to stimulate economic activities around airports. There was good infrastructure in the formerly independent states’ airports and economic activity generation would contribute to job creation and economic upliftment in those areas. The national civil aviation policy must be finalised by the end of this financial year and that would then guide the civil aviation sector. Furthermore, there was a need to have effective air transport economic regulation, through a review of the regulatory framework that promoted the development of the aviation industry, by 2013/14. The spending was aimed at ensuring that the basic principles were accomplished (see slide 16 for details). In particular the DOT wanted to measure the aviation industry contribution to the environment. There was a need to consider how aircraft noise and emissions, particularly for craft flying into the country, could be scaled down. A regulation committee had been established and this year would be the first in which the ACSA and Air Traffic and Navigation Services Company (ATNS) tariffs would be regulated, and the costs of transport monitored. Other activities under this programme would include exercising oversight, and ensuring that all pilots were trained, that airports were in a good state, and that air traffic controls were efficient. Regulations would be drafted to govern the use and management of slots at airports. An independent aircraft accident and incident investigation body would be set up. The Civil Aviation Act would be amended. In Gauteng, there were problems of congestion of air space, particularly at Lanseria, where there were some safety hazards. The budget of R140 million would cover these activities, a slight increase on last year's R136 million.

The Director General asked that Mr Thwala also present on Programme 6: Maritime, but the Chairperson asked for an explanation for the absence of the Deputy Director General heading that programme.

Dr du Toit explained that the President of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) was currently in South Africa and the DOT was hosting high level discussions, including on training, with the IMO. The Minister had called for high-level input from the Department and it was decided that the Deputy Director General would represent the Department. Dr du Toit explained the absolute necessity to achieve full cooperation between the DOT and South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and stressed the necessity of having DOT representation at the events.

The Chairperson thanked Dr du Toit and said that whilst the Committee accepted that this was a valid reason for the Deputy Director General’s absence, she nonetheless wanted to bring some important matters to the attention of the DOT. Parliament was the highest decision making structure in the country, and wanted to work in a harmonious manner with the Department. It had already been observed, over the last few months, that there was some level of disrespect being shown to the Committee by some officials from the DOT; for instance, in some cases junior instead of senior officials had been sent to make presentations, despite the expectation of Parliament that the most senior officials should present. This was not received well with the Committee, particularly when the DOT did not make the Committee aware of this in advance. There had been some problems with this particular Deputy Director General for Maritime Transport in the past, whom, it was noted, sometimes did not sit for the full duration of the summits or meetings. The Director General had a responsibility to ensure that subordinate staff were held accountable and performed properly, She would appreciate this being attended to. She accepted that the particular official was deployed in another duty, but stressed that she hoped that she would not behave any differently from the other Deputy Director Generals, as had happened in the past.

Dr du Toit asked that specific details of any incidents be reported to the Director General. The DOT had not been aware of any improper actions. She repeated that the deferment today was for a high-level meeting.

The Chairperson reiterated that she had expected to be told of this in advance.

Mr Thwala was asked to proceed to present on Programme 6: Maritime Transport. He noted that this year was one in which maritime matters were to be promoted, with South Africa’s offerings as an effective shipping destination for all being emphasised. The programme was focusing on providing a safe, secure, environmentally friendly and efficient maritime transport industry. The maritime transport policy and legislation was to be finalised, after consultation with stakeholders, by 2013. DOT  aimed to enhance economic development by developing a maritime shipping policy by the end of 2014, including ship recycling and ship repair. There were greater opportunities to develop viable repair centres that should be taken up. DOT also wished to improve maritime safety by reducing the number of accidents and incidents. During the last two years, there were 19 accidents and 68 incidents, and these would normally be benchmarked against foreign figures. The intention, however, was to improve on that by 40%. He stressed that safety and security would also extend to internal waterways. All modes of transport should align themselves to reducing incidents and accidents. There would be a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed with stakeholders in maritime security. There should be opportunities for adequate training and skilling of seafarers, by completing international agreements, and drafting legislation on working conditions and protection of rights of seafarers in international waters. SAS Agulhas would working with international companies this year, so there needed to be protocols to protect those on board. The main spending focus would be on maritime safety, security and environmental legislation. The major projects on which the budget would be spent would be to finalise the consultation process of the draft maritime policy, and obtain Cabinet approval, to oversee the development of a ship clearance system, to develop an integrated skills development programme, to develop, maintain and monitor the coastal shipping plans, supported by a South African shipping register, and to develop the policy framework for ship building and maintenance.

Mr Mathabatha Mokonyama, Deputy Director General: Public Transport, DOT, took the Committee through Programme 7, and said this should be seen also in the light of the strategic planning workshop. The objectives included that DOT aimed to improve public transport access and reliability by developing and implementing integrated public transport networks in thirteen cities, and monitoring and evaluating processes, and ensuring integrated and optimised public transport services. This would be done by focusing on five municipalities in which integrated networks and feeder and distribution systems would be pt in place. This programme would also be involved in establishment of the National Public Transport Regulator (NPTR) as required by the National Land Transport Act. It wanted to increase broad based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) in the transport space, including in the taxis and small bus operator businesses, especially through cooperatives. It wanted to align and integrate the Taxi Recapitalisation Programme (TRP) with national and provincial rail services, metropolitan transport corridors and provincial bus services. The DOT also needed to complete the review of the TRP, to assess how it could align with the public transport strategy. The DOT had gone quite far on this review and would be presenting its thoughts and options to the Committee in due course. DOT also wanted to ensure an improved scholar transport system, by developing scholar transport norms and standards in this year; the DOT was already involved in doing this, and it had reached internal approval stage.

Mr Mokonyama noted that the Public Transport Network Operations Grant was for operational funding of public transport infrastructure in municipalities. The Public Transport Infrastructure and Systems Grant would be a new offering. With the emphasis on infrastructure, there was a need to deal with taxi owners, on scrapping. The budget for the scrapping would depend on the numbers of old vehicles scrapped in each year. He noted, in relation to the Public Transport Network Operation Grant, that it operated only on the networks. Johannesburg was busy with testing on stage 2, and there was 40 kilometres covered.

He explained that there had been quite significant developments with Johannesburg and Cape Town but said that Mangaung and Nelson Mandela would be monitored closely, because they had regressed. There were some problems there around governance.

The major expenditure in this year in this programme would be on finalising the Scholar Transport policy (but he hastened to explain that “finalised” in this context referred to the administrative process, as he was fully aware that it was this Committee who would still have to approve the policy). The DOT had started with the gazetting process. If would be developing the safety standards and operations guidelines, implementing the rural mobility transportation programme and assisting cities with their Integrated Rapid Transport Networks. He reiterated that amounts transferred to taxi owners for scrapping would depend on the number of taxis scrapped in each year. There were around 7 000 taxis scrapped each year, and this figure, although small, was expected to remain stable. This would continue until the public transport strategy could incorporate taxis within the subsidy fold for road based public transport subsidies. He outlined some of the results that were coming out of the study. The DOT had noted questions about affordability of the new vehicles, the scrapping money not longer being enough, and intransigence on the part of the financial institutions, who still saw the taxi industry as risky, and were demanding a 75% deposit. That was a deterrent for taxi owners to proceed with scrapping as it was unaffordable for them to buy new vehicles.

Mr Pienaar then outlined the budget slides (see slides 24 onwards). The amend nets to the baseline budget allocations were set out on slide 24. He noted that the total allocations for the 2013, 2014 and 2015 financial years were, respectively, R41.7 billion, R48.0 billion and R50.2 billion. The additional funds would continue, into the next budget, and so would the budget cuts. He highlighted some of the major adjustments. There included additional adjustments for rolling stock to PRASA in the 2013 year, but also some cuts for rolling stock in 2014 and 2015. The SANRAL capital allocation was growing but this was allocated for the additional roads that SANRAL had taken over from Eastern Cape and North West, and this was not actually an increase to the normal capital allocations. Other additional allocations related to compensation of employees, to raise capacity at the DOT, and for improvement of conditions of service. There were also additions for rescue services and for replacement of infrastructure. There were adjustments to some of the conditional grants. The total budget growth over the next three years, respectively, was 1.37%, 0.33% and 6.17%.

The summary of budgets over the medium term was set out on slide 25. This excluded the adjusted budgets. The main allocations related to compensation of employees, goods and services transfers and subsidies and machinery and equipment. Percentage year-on-year growth was also given.

Mr Pienaar emphasised that transfers and subsidies made up 97.8% of the total budget of the DOT, and that left only 2.2% for the internal budget. Slide 26 set out the compensation of employees budgets and noted that the additional allocations were negotiated to enable the DOT to strengthen its oversight over the public entities, for conditional grant monitoring and risk management.

Similar comparisons were given for goods and services budgets. However, he noted that if rescue funding was excluded, there was actually no growth, at - 0.2%, -1.9% and -2.9%. The message that National Treasury was sending out here was clearly that it was acceptable to increase the capacity and internal compensation of employees, but there had to be a reduction on what was spent externally.

The transfer payment budgets were set out by programme (see slides 29 to 31). Mr Pienaar explained that some of the growth was to enable implementation of systems. In the area of civil aviation, there were new SADC requirements in the last year. Public transport was growing only in line with inflation, although there far more was needed to transform the public transport systems. Taxi scrapping was also only moving in line with inflation. The Public Transport Network grant had grown out of the Public Transport Infrastructure Grant.

He tabled graphs of the major allocations (see slides 32 to 36) to show the trends. He explained, in answer to a Member’s question, that on slide 32, there was a distinction between capital and current funding. Current funding was essentially operational funding, and it included road maintenance expenditure. He also highlighted expenditure linked to coal haulage and rural grants to accommodate the additional municipalities.

Mr I Ollis (DA) noted that page 3 of the presentation set out the kilometres of "very poor" road that DOT intended to upgrade. however, he was worried that the targets did not seem to correlate with what SANRAL had presented, which indicated that there was a backlog in maintenance and that substantially more funding would be required to improve the roads.

Mr Hlabisa responded that the programme was introduced in 2010/11 and this spoke to the effectiveness of the Provincial Road Maintenance Grants. There was a need for DOT to increase its monitoring as well as upscale the job opportunities and creation. SANRAL was looking to increase the road network, in terms of its own capacity, reaching 20 000 km, and it would be “inheriting” some other roads from Eastern Cape, Free State and other provinces, to be incorporated into the national roads network. He noted that the funding must be seen differently for the primary and secondary roads networks. The conditional grants required rehabilitation of the existing road network in the provinces, for Class 3 and below. The main aim was to do rehabilitation.

Mr Ollis asked if this meant that SANRAL roads were getting worse but the secondary roads were improving.

The Chairperson explained that SANRAL was established to look after national roads, which were tarred roads. The secondary networks related to low volume roads, as well as provincial roads and rural roads. Some gravel roads had been upgraded to tar roads, which was why there was an increase in the number of roads said to be “improving”. SANRAL was mandated to look after and keep an adequate network, although the previous dispensation had not done so, and the new roads administration had, in 1994, inherited a road infrastructure which was inadequate and needed maintenance. New roads had since been developed, and that was where the distinction lay.

Mr Ollis noted that there was a target to increase passenger rail by 2.5% annually, and asked if this would be include Gautrain, and Shosholoza. He said that the number of cars on the roads, particularly in Johannesburg, was, however, growing by 7% and the two targets were far apart. Rail was a key element of public transport. Far more than 2.5% improvement would be needed. There was already an indication that all the new freeways around Johannesburg would reach capacity in a very short time.

Ms D Dlakude (ANC) noted that there was substantial damage being caused by trucks and DOT had referred to “ongoing migration” of haulage from road to rail. She asked how far that could be done, and when it was anticipated that coal was transferred completely to rail.

Mr Vilana said that DOT was planning to deal with the shift, and it had finalised the freight strategy and identified a number of commodities, including coal, that it wished to move to rail. However, it must be accepted that the shift could not happen overnight DOT had to engage with Transnet, and investments at Transnet had to be targeted to look at rail corridors. There had formerly been huge amounts of coal carried on the N11, and there were several ongoing exercises to change that. The Mpumalanga Coal Haulage Network had also been engaged with. A number of interventions were required to achieve the shift, across government.

Mr Ollis noted that two figures had been mentioned for capital road works of SANRAL, and he said that this was essentially also “new money”, intended to cover the new responsibilities, because SANRAL had its own budget. He asked if the money was shifted from another programme, or if there was an increased allocation from National Treasury.

Mr Pienaar answered that slide 24 set out the amendments to the original budget allocations, and this showed funding to SANRAL additional to its normal allocations, for taking roads from the provinces. In the past, SANRAL had taken over some roads with no budget shift.

Mr Ollis interjected to ask if DOT knew that money may have been taken away from other functions.

Mr Pienaar said that DOT would not be able to know that, because it would be reflected in provincial budgets.

Mr Ollis referred to the SAMSA budget on slide 30 and asked for an explanation of the increase of 104.6%.

Mr Pienaar responded that the growth from R3.1 million to R6.4 million was a correction of a previous budget cut. In 2011/12 the budget for SAMSA was cut from R7.6 million in 2012, to R3.1 million in 2013. There had been a perception by National Treasury that SAMSA had sufficient budget, but this was a correction to put matters back.

Ms Dlakude said that it would assist everyone if the budget allocated to each programme would be spent properly. She hoped that there would not be under-expenditure.

Mr L Suka (ANC) also referred to the need for the DOT to improve capacity to spend.

Mr Hlabisa noted that there was really no excuse for under-spending. He noted that the DOT also intended to increase job creation and that explained why, in his programme in particular, the DOT was building a team to assist provinces in meeting the targets for the year, and not falling short. DOT was filling gaps in capacity, and it was on the right track to turn around the poorest roads.

Ms Dlakude was pleased to hear that students would learn to drive, and that the new manual and training was intended to teach them to be better drivers, but asked if the DOT had given thought to probationary periods for inexperienced drivers. A matric student might learn to drive, but then not actually be able to afford a car, and therefore not drive, for the next few years, and she was not sure that this would actually assist in reducing accidents if they could not get the proper experience.

Ms Dlakude asked if it might not be possible to put some sort of system in cars, similar to the “black box” in aeroplanes, that could help to determine the causes of accidents.

Mr Mokonyama explained that the black box on an aircraft recorded communication between control tower and pilot just before the incident, but since there was no control tower, he quipped that in a car it would only record cellphone conversations that the driver should not be having whilst driving. However, there were other indicators of causes of accident, such as the position of the vehicles, skid and tyre marks, the placing of any damage.

Ms Dlakude said that she had been citing that as an example only and wondered if there was any other technology that could isolate the behaviour of the drivers prior to accident.

The Chairperson said that the Committee had received a presentation on cameras that could be fixed to trucks allowing for playbacks, when the truck was stopped, of violations and speeds.

Mr Vilana said there were already some tracking projects, but these had not yet been extended to ordinary cars.

The Chairperson said that clearly there would never be enough traffic police, at the right place and the right time, to monitor driver behaviour, and even where there were cameras, regular road users would, for instance, slow down when passing the camera and then increase their speed once past that spot, or only put their seatbelts on when coming to a roadblock. The Committee wanted there to be investigations into something that would constantly deter drivers from bad driving.

Ms Dlakude bemoaned the poor standard of driving shown, particularly at night and over weekends, with particular problems in Gauteng and North West, and said that there were major accidents on the N4, involving cars licensed in those provinces. This seemed to indicate that there were, in turn, problems in the provincial road authorities and testing centres in those provinces and she strongly suggested that DOT must investigate the matter.

Ms Dlakude asked for clarity on the Waterkloof incident, and what the Department's requirements were for aircraft to land at international airports. She wanted to understand the process of how permits were given.

This question was not responded to.

Mr L Suka (ANC) asked about the various programmes, and who was responsible for line functions. He thought that figures for the previous financial years should have been given in slide 24, as they did appear on the following pages, to enable Members to make a proper analysis. Mr Suka also called for clarity on the blue shading on slide 24, and on the negative growth on slide 28.

Mr Pienaar explained that the comparisons to the previous financial year appeared from slide 25 onwards, but were not on slide 24, because this showed the amendments from the previous to the new baseline. The year on year growth and cuts would continue from the new baseline  and National Treasury would, in the outer year, add an inflationary figure to inform the new year’s budget.

Mr Suka noted, referring to slide 25, that most of the Department’s allocations went on transfers and subsidies yet the Department was still expected to improve on service delivery. It seemed that it was impossible for the DOT to do anything and he thought that there was not strong enough oversight over the entities.

Dr Du Toit agreed, pointing out that although the total budget was around R42 million, if all transfer payments were excluded that only left around R940 million for DOT’s mandate. She agreed that oversight had to be enhanced, and that was why DOT had concentrated, in this year, on obtaining approval for increases in compensation and why it had taken a more focused approach to capacity. It was not attending to the act of transferring, but also closer monitoring of the reports and the implementation of proper controls and risk management, which were critical.

Mr Suka said that the outputs on the targets for taxi recapitalisation were slow, but thought these could have been improved if taxi owners had been more willing to come forward to participate, but the economic circumstances as outlined, particularly the attitude of the financial institutions, clearly impacted on that. He wondered if DOT had any thoughts on how to improve the situation.

Mr Mokonyama reiterated that the DOT had done a review and he had highlighted some of the findings that were apparent from that. The DOT could not possibly match the astronomical deposits being requested by the financial institutions, and so it would have to look at alternatives for the taxi industry. DOT was aware that it would have to integrate all the modes of public transport. Following on earlier comments from this Committee, DOT was also looking into targeting the user and not the mode of transport, for subsidies. At the moment, the bus subsidy did factor in a capital portion of the vehicle, but certainly not the full amount, as part of the operations cost. In moving forward, it would be necessary to also encourage change of mindset. One option was indeed the formation of individual owners into cooperatives, as this would enable them to participate in public transport contracts that would help to unbundle the current monopolies. Operational subsidies could be used. In summary, the current form of TRP was not helping and it had resulted in some unintended consequences, so there was a need for improvement.

Mr Hlabisa spoke to road haulage and said that Mawethu on integrated would speak to branch lines. There was a need to fast-track and move toad to rail and there had been good work on that.

The Chairperson thanked the officials for their presentations, and said that although she appreciated what they had said, the Committee also wanted to mull over, and may not be fully in agreement with, everything presented, and may make suggestions for improvements. She wanted to make some general observations. She was also pleased to see the intentions to have driver programmes at schools, as committed to by a former Minister’s budget speech, as the Committee had been concerned about movement on this programme. Driver training was still a problem, as evidenced by continual bad driving behaviour and lack of respect for road users, which should have been instilled during the training. She hoped that the changes to the training manual would also encompass better life skills training and that new drivers would be sensitised to the fact that accidents deprived families of their husbands and fathers, and contributed to disability, so the social concerns, not just the statistics, must be emphasised. She mentioned a visit to South Korea and Japan, where simulators were used, and some truly shocking depictions in an accident museum that really brought these issues home to drivers during orientation. The DOT should not be teaching driving, but producing safe drivers. She also noted that in some countries, the transport authorities were concentrating on much younger children to teach them to refuse to get in a car with their parents if they had been drinking and intended to drive. That certainly helped to instil a culture of responsibility in drivers.

The Chairperson was pleased to hear Programme 7’s intention to change focus to ensure that the public transport subsidy should target commuters as opposed to targeting a few service providers, since in the past the subsidy, which extended only to some modes of transport, had actually been discriminatory, and had, for instance, failed to assist small bus operators. Government had a prime responsibility to public commuters, not to service providers.

The Chairperson was also pleased to hear the mention of formation of cooperatives for the transport sector, noting that this would help to address deposits if consumers had greater power, and hopefully would serve to lessen the exploitation of owners by the financial industry.

The Committee would be deliberating on the budget on 22 May.

The meeting was adjourned.


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