The Department of Transport (the Department) presented its response to the Portfolio Committee on Transport on its comments with regard to the proposed amendments to the National Road Traffic Act (NRTA), 1996 (Act 93). Two major issues had been raised by the Committee. One involved the unintended consequence on prohibiting the use of second-hand car parts, while the other referred to the retrospective application of dates in the regulations.
The key issue dealt with second-hand car parts, or the regulation that referred to the prohibition of using second-hand genuine parts in the fixing or replacing of any part of a motor vehicle. The specific regulation was Regulation 13A of the NRTA, which provided that a motor vehicle which had been compacted would not be utilised to repair any motor vehicle. The Department had gone back and looked at this provision, and it had been amended to clarify the issue and provide for the usage of genuine second-hand parts. Sub-regulation 2 had been inserted, to make it clear that second-hand genuine parts could still be utilised in the repairing of motor vehicles.
The second issue related to the retrospective application of some of the provisions of the NRTA, as the regulations had been published and submitted to Parliament in June 2012, and the Department had hoped that the regulations would have been finalised before the date referred to in the regulations. Some of the regulations referred to December 2012 which, when read after 2012, would make it seem that it was backdating the provisions of the regulations. The State Law Advisor had been concerned with this. However, the Department had made the necessary changes to those provisions which contained dates, to ensure that the provisions did not have a retrospective application where it would have been difficult for stakeholders and role players to comply with the legal requirement. The committee approved its report on the on the amendments to the National Road Traffic Regulations.
The Committee agreed to postpone the public hearings pertaining to the Merchant Shipping Civil Liability and Merchant Shipping International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund Bills the Merchant Shipping (Civil Liability) and Merchant Shipping (International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund) Bills by one week at the request of the Maritime Law Association of South Africa, as the stakeholder had made comments on a previous draft that had been changed.
Minutes of the meetings on Tuesday, 30 July 2013, were adopted.
The Chairperson said the purpose of the meeting was to look at the regulations of the NRTA, 1996. Previously, the Department had presented proposed amendments and regulations, and the Committee had also suggested amendments to some of the clauses. The Department would now report back on these amendments and its decisions, taking into consideration the Committee’s suggestions.
Mr John Motsatsing, Chief Director of Road Regulation at the Department of Transport, said that he was representing the Department, as his core function was to draft the NRTA.
The Chairperson said that Mr L Suka (ANC) had previously asked if there was an accounting officer from the Department at the meetings, as there should always be one present when the Department met with the Committee. If the acting Director-General (DG) was not present, she should have informed the Committee beforehand.
Mr Motsatsing apologised for the miscommunication on behalf of the acting DG, who was currently attending to issues raised by the Shareholders Committee. He would advise the Department about the process and the need to advise the Committee in future as to who would appear before of it.
The Chairperson said that there was a standard procedure for the Parliamentary Liaison Officer (PLO) to follow. If the acting DG could not come, then the Deputy Director General (DDG) should come. Advocate Adam Masombuka had met with the Committee last week and this meeting could also have been done then, as an accounting officer had been present.
Mr Motsatsing again apologized, and said he would inform the Department on the process that needed to take place through the PLO.
Mr Suka reminded the Department that certain procedures had to be followed, and he wanted to check with the PLOs on how departments came to Parliament without a letter of apology from the DG or the DDG, as there was surely a mandate to advise them how to act. The DG should always confer power in the form of a letter, and the Committee should be given the dignity it deserved.
Mr Tankiso Molekane, Parliamentary Liaison Officer for the Department of Transport, said the process was that the Department had received a notice from the Committee Secretary, which had been forwarded to the office of the DG. The office of the DG had then decided who would represent the Department at the meeting. However, the Department had received notification that there were changes from the initial notice. In terms of seniority of officials coming to the Committee meetings, he was not aware of the standing arrangement of the DG representing the Department, but said that he took it for granted, as he was new to the Department. He had taken note of the Chairperson’s concerns.
The Chairperson said that she was not disputing the DG not coming, but that it had to be cleared with the Committee. The same would apply to her if she were unable to attend a Committee meeting. This was standing practice.
Mr Molekane said that he had taken note of the concerns and would make sure that this would not be repeated in the future. The Department would communicate with the Committee Secretary before meetings if the DG was not available.
Briefing by Department of Transport
Mr Motsatsing said the discussion would be based on the previous presentation of the Department on the proposed NRTA amendments and regulations, and the issues raised by the Committee. The key issue dealt with second-hand car parts, or the regulation that referred to the prohibition of using second-hand genuine parts in the fixing or replacing of any part of a motor vehicle. The specific regulation was Regulation 13A of the NRTA, which provided that a motor vehicle which had been compacted would not be utilised to repair any motor vehicle. The Department had gone back and looked at this provision, and it had been amended to clarify the issue and provide for the usage of genuine second-hand parts. Sub-regulation 2 had been inserted, to make it clear that second-hand genuine parts could still be utilised in the repairing of motor vehicles.
Mr Suka said that, because the Committee had interacted with this clause, the Department should take it through the presentation holistically, and should ask the legal advisors about their response.
Mr Motsatsing said the Committee had been concerned that the proposed regulation would have unintended consequences on second-hand car parts, by prohibiting the sale of parts. The amendment that the Department had proposed and inserted was a proviso clause, which stated that the provisions of sub-regulation 13A would not apply to parts of motor vehicles which had been deregistered because they were not be fit to be operated on a public road. The proviso would ensure that the parts of motor vehicles which had been deregistered would be able to be used.
Some of the issues that had been raised were not necessarily problematic, but had been included for clarity purposes. The first was the regulation of the driving schools industry, and how that process would unfold going forward. The second issue related to the retrospective application of some of the provisions of the NRTA, as the regulations had been published and submitted to Parliament in June 2012, and the Department had hoped that the regulations would have been finalised before the date referred to in the regulations. Some of the regulations referred to December 2012 which, when read after 2012, would make it seem that it was backdating the provisions of the regulations. The State Law Advisor had been concerned with this. However, the Department had made the necessary changes to those provisions which contained dates, to ensure that the provisions did not have a retrospective application where it would have been difficult for stakeholders and role players to comply with the legal requirement. Amendments had been made to those provisions by ensuring that the dates would be in the future, depending on when the process was finalized.
The typo errors raised by the State Law Advisors over references to “adaptor dollies” had been amended.
In principle, the issues that had been raised by the Committee and the State Law Advisors had been incorporated into the draft regulation amendments submitted to the Committee.
Mr Lonwabo Sopela, Parliamentary Legal Advisor, said that two main issues raised previously had needed amendments. The first was in relation to supplementing Regulation 13A, as it was not properly drafted. The second issue was the retrospective date, which mechanism to use to determine the date, and considering how to determine the readiness of people to comply. He asked the Department to take the Committee into its confidence regarding this issue, so that the Committee knew that people were not going to complain about not being ready.
The Chairperson asked that if the regulations went through on 30 August 2013, how long after this date. would someone be expected to comply
Mr Motsatsing said the regulations had specific dates by which stakeholders were supposed to comply. The intention was to give stakeholders ample time to comply -- a period of three to six months -- as this would be adequate. Regarding the motor vehicle industry, this period had to take into consideration the production process of a plant producing a motor vehicle, and the time it took from the production line to the finished product on the market. This finished product would have to comply on that particular date. The proposed three to six month period after the date of publication, took into account the various role players. For ordinary citizens, the requirements might be different to a certain extent, because they might not require a change in a particular process. These regulations addressed motor vehicle owners and manufacturers. They were implemented through the Electronic National Traffic Information System and it was critical at any point to promulgate regulations. It did not affect the working of the system in such a manner that the system would not be able to ensure compliance by the public.
Mr G Krumbock (DA) asked if the Committee was supposed to ask questions after each point or at the end of the presentation, as he needed to consult with Mr I Ollis (DA), who was unable to attend the meeting. Mr Ollis was the individual in his party that dealt with this particular topic, but had had to attend a funeral of a fellow DA member.
Mr Suka said that when dealing with a Bill, the presentation would normally go clause-by-clause, but in terms of the regulations, the Committee could also intervene for each amendment and always raise an issue if something was unclear. The State Law Advisor could express an opinion on the credibility of the amendment.
Mr Mbhele said that he had not been present when this matter had first been raised owing to health reasons, but Mr Ollis’s concern was only part of the collective Committee’s concern. The Committee was satisfied with how the Department had been able to respond to the concern of the collective. Based on what Mr Ollis had said in the previous meeting, it would be a myth if his opinion differed.
The Chairperson said that the Committee was dealing with the response of the Department, and not starting from scratch. The Department’s presentation had already been made, and there would be no new concerns -- just dealing with the issues that had been raised previously. However, she would like the DA to get a fair opportunity to respond and would adjourn for fifteen minutes to allow Mr Krumbock to consult with Mr Ollis.
Mr Krumbock appreciated this, and thanked the Chairperson. He asked for clarity from the State Law Advisor on Regulation 13A, concerning the term “unfit for use” -- did it refer to vehicles that were not part of the proceeds of a crime or not written off because of a bad accident, but merely to unroadworthy vehicles. He asked if that would give sufficient scope to the spare parts industry to make use of a particular vehicle, as the industry would struggle if it could not claim these parts. He asked for reassurance that “unfit for use” was wide enough as a legal definition.
Mr Sopela asked the Department to explain the terminology and its intention with Regulation 13A before he could advise on the latter part of Mr Krumbock’s question.
The Chairperson said that it was not just Mr Ollis who was concerned with the initial amendment, as she and the whole Committee were particularly concerned that spare parts dealers would be harmed. The whole Committee was concerned with two issues in relation to the usage of parts of a car that were deregistered. Firstly, if all parts -- even those in suitable condition -- could not be reused, then the industry would suffer, causing job losses. Secondly, members of the public that could not afford to buy new parts would be deprived of getting second-hand parts that were cheaper than new parts. It should not be perceived that all Members of the Committee were not concerned.
Mr Motsatsing said the insertion would address the various issues raised, and covered all scenarios in relation to any vehicle which had not been compacted, but had been deregistered. The only parts that could not be utilised were from cars or parts that had been compacted. If it was compacted, no parts of the vehicle could be used.
Mr Krumbock said that this sounded very good, but asked if the word ‘compacted’ could be added to Clause 1, and ‘uncompacted’ to Clause 2 of Regulation 13A. He asked if that was what the Regulation was actually saying, or whether there were more subtle differences.
Mr Motsatsing said that it was a case of semantics, and it was immaterial whether these words were included, as the provisions were already stated.
Mr Suka said this issue had been raised the previous week with Advocate Masombuka, who had said the legal drafters would deal with it. He was happy now that it had been done by the legal drafters, as the terminology was much clearer now.
The Chairperson said that her own understanding was that the first part of the regulation related to demolished or compacted vehicles that did not have any reusable parts, but the second part related to unfit vehicles that still had usable parts. Demolishing a car was not different from compacting one.
Mr Sopela said that the clarity and the understanding of the Members on the item was the sam,e and that ‘unfit for use’ meant that the car still had usable parts.
The Chairperson said that it was not required to go clause-by-clause, as the Committee was only discussing amendments that had been previously proposed.
Report of the Portfolio Committee on Transport on the Amendments to the National Road Traffic Regulations, dated 6 August 2013
The Chairperson read through the report and asked if the Committee was happy with it.
Mr Suka moved that the report be approved. Mr Mbhele seconded.
The Chairperson said that the Committee was there as public representatives and allegiance was to the public and not the media. The Committee needed to be treated with dignity and the respect that it deserved, and should not be disturbed or interrupted by the media.
The Chairperson said that, regarding the Merchant Shipping Civil Liability and Merchant Shipping International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund Bills from the previous meeting, there had been a request from the Maritime Law Association of South Africa to delay the deliberations for two weeks, as it had made comments on a previous draft, which had been changed since then. In terms of the Committee’s schedule, it was not possible to delay for two weeks, but she would allow a one-week delay before the Committee would begin with public hearings.
Mr Suka said the Committee should abide with what the Chairperson had proposed, so that the hearings would be next week. He moved the adoption of the proposal, and Ms N Ngele (ANC) seconded it.
The Chairperson said it was the only submission received from the stakeholders.
The minutes for the morning meeting of Tuesday, 30 July 2013, were adopted after they had been proposed by Ms Ngele and seconded by Mr Suka, with no objections.
The minutes for the afternoon meeting of Tuesday, 30 July 2013 were adopted after they were moved by Mr Mbhele and seconded by Mr Suka, with no objections.
The Chairperson asked Mr Krumbock to give further details on the unfortunate news regarding Mr Ollis being at a funeral of a fellow party member.
Mr Krombuck said that Mr Gavin Lewis, a member of the Gauteng legislature and the DA’s spokesman on economic and finance affairs, had passed away. Mr Lewis had made a big contribution to the ongoing economic debate in South Africa. He had been diagnosed with a type of cancer on a Monday, and passed on that Friday. Mr Ollis was from Gauteng, and was attending the funeral today. He thanked the Chairperson for her concern and giving him an opportunity to speak. He was glad that Parliament could acknowledge fellow Parliamentary members across political parties. A moment of silence was observed.
The meeting was adjourned.
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