Infrastructure Development Bill [B49-2013]: Public hearings Day 3

Economic Development

16 January 2014
Chairperson: Ms E Coleman (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee continued with the third day of public hearings on the Infrastructure Development Bill, and noted that the Minister’s response to submissions was scheduled for 28 January.

South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA), an environmental justice organisation, was concerned about lack of consultation between the Minister and Department of Economic Development (EDD) and communities, as well as the non-establishment of a promised stakeholder forum. It claimed that the Bill was not advertised, nor was there any documentation explaining the rationale behind the Bill. SDCEA called for urgent establishment of a resourced stakeholder forum, adequate resources, translation of documents and public hearings. It was concerned that this Bill was pushing an agenda of fossil-carbon dependence. It submitted that the ports SIP in Durban would cause major environmental and climate problems. The Bill was seen as undermining Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) requirements. Whilst job creation was important, SDCEA felt that this Bill would not achieve sustainable economic development. The Chairperson stopped the presentation, because Members were concerned that it was too general, made no reference to specific clauses in the Bill, and that most of the comment was directed to local municipal issues. The Chairperson explained that public hearings would be conducted in the provinces, and urged the SCEA to make use of this opportunity to present its concerns.

Mr Tebogo Kebotlhale supported the Bill’s aims, but felt that the Bill needed to be more explicit on projects with the SADC countries, and emphasise the national interest. Too little was said in the Bill about the role that institutions of learning would play, and planners must identify skills necessary to achieve growth in the economy and citizenry. There were some gaps in the Bill that could be closed by regulations, but he stressed that these should be drawn through a consultative process. He believed that consultation processes were adequate, if not entirely ideal, and more was expected through roadshows. He suggested that the Bill should say more about partnerships, which would be key to Strategic Infrastructure Projects (SIPs). He urged closer linkages between SIPs and Integrated Development Plans (IDPs), which would be achieved through the proposed representation of municipalities on steering committees. He did not disagree with the need for major projects, but emphasised the need also to deal with sanitation, roads, community halls, sporting and recreational facilities and bridges. Databanks should be drawn up and proposals taken from communities and municipalities. Finally, he felt that projects should be finally approved not by the steering committee, but management committee. Members asked the presenter to expand on his suggestions on projects and regulations that needed to be included, noted that the Bill did not intend to replace any functions resting currently with organs of state and recognised the IDP processes, and asked that more specific suggestions on changes to particular clauses be made.

Mr Sisa Maboza focused on transport matters in his oral presentation. He believed there was a need for the Bill to expressly take into account and protect from encroachment the long-term road infrastructure projects, particularly transport corridors, which had been planned but not yet executed. Whilst some were protected by servitudes, others were not, and he thought that this Bill should make specific legislative provision for their protection. Members acceded to Mr Maboza’s request that he be permitted to submit proposed new clauses, but questioned if this was the appropriate place to address the issues, and whether it was not more appropriate to amend the transport legislation to deal with his concerns.

The Institute of Municipal Engineering SA focused on the substantial benefits of applying proper infrastructure asset management (IAM) to all infrastructure projects. This should be seen as distinct from pure maintenance, which was reactionary, since IAM was a proactive, risk-based approach that evaluated risk, necessary spend and total planning of, for instance, road, water pipeline and storm water needs cohesively. Although maintenance was mentioned in the Bill, IAM was not covered in terms, and this should be done both in the definitions and in a detailed clause. The Institute suggested also that the Bill should make explicit reference, on page 14, also to building, coastal management, storm water and parks. Municipalities should be audited against IAM objectives. IAM was critical to any infrastructure intensive business, culture change and buy-in were vital and the approach to IAM should be standardised, with proper financial support. Members noted that this presentation was essentially addressing operational issues, but did not actually speak directly to any clauses of the Bill, and asked if the Institute could propose any specific amendments. They asked if the Institute felt that the Bill would address the challenges it had identified.

The South African National Council for the Blind focused on issues of accessibility, outlining the particular challenges that faced the blind, partially sighted and other disabled people, both from a physical perspective and in getting access to information. It suggested that the definition of “persons” be amplified to include marginalised persons and disabled peoples’ organisations, to ensure that they received proper recognition in the Bill. SANCB was encouraged by clauses 4 and 12, but called for representation of those with disabilities on steering committees and in the consultative process. The needs and aspirations of those with disabilities must be specifically recognised and incorporated into all SIPs. Clause 13 was also welcomed. No questions were asked.

The Centre for Civil Society believed that the fast-tracking process in Schedule 2 of the Bill was a potential recipe for disaster. Whilst it accepted that infrastructure development was needed, it wanted reconsideration of all the SIP programmes. It feared that the Bill would hasten irrational infrastructure construction, multiplying the existing “herd of white elephant” infrastructure, and divert fiscal resources away from basic needs infrastructure such as housing, water and sanitation. It was also concerned that the Bill could diminish environmental impact assessment processes, which already faced challenges from climate denialists, and cited some attempts already to down-play very important environmental concerns to promote Port of Durban construction. It submitted that no benefit was offered to broader communities by the construction of power stations or ports, oil and gas pipelines, and airports, and recommended that these be removed from Schedule 1. The Centre noted that those benefiting from new infrastructure spending (in the main directed to huge projects) were huge and often corrupt corporations. The Centre recommended that no subsidies should be given to multi-national companies. It suggested that the whole infrastructure programme was too export-intensive and carbon-greedy and would not protect against external shocks that had already resulted in failure to meet objectives. The value of SIPs 1 and 2 was questioned. More investment and time was needed to fast-track “infrastructure for the masses” rather than in major projects that would directly benefit only a few. Lessons should be learned from the 2010 World Cup projects. The Centre was opposed to any fast-tracking of environmental processes, recommended that ideally schedule 2 must be removed from the Bill along with the deletion of five infrastructure items from Schedule 1. Alternatively, the fast-tracking process in Schedule 2 required a severe re-think, and the SIP projects must be re-evaluated. The Bill should recognise factors making South Africa vulnerable to external events. The mandate must be revised to ensure that basic needs development was seen as the priority. Climate change must be taken seriously by planners, who should shift their focus to promoting renewable energy, public transport, less trade-vulnerability, and a new infrastructure strategy. South Africa should plan and implement a post-pollution, post-carbon and “million climate-jobs” campaign. Members suggested that if planning was properly done, then speeding up implementation may not be as negative as suggested. Some disputed the Centre’s views on the relevance of larger projects, with larger economic impact, , said that problems in isolated projects should not taint other project proposals, questioned whether the Centre had studied the submission of the Minister when introducing the Bill and did not agree that large projects necessarily would become white elephants, if creative and innovative planning was applied. The presenter re-emphasised that comparative allocation of financing between projects was important.

Future Thought began to make a submission, but it soon became apparent that rather than critiquing the Bill, it was making proposals for introduction of high-speed magnetic levitation transport systems. The Chairperson ruled that the presentation was more appropriate to the Portfolio Committee on Transport. The presenter submitted that he was intending to outline how this would contribute to job creation, and meet future energy requirements, but Members agreed that this had no direct relevance to the Bill and the presentation did not continue.

Ms Joan Seirlis, in her private capacity, urged that the principles of universal design and access should be enshrined in the Bill, possibly as a new sub-clause 18(2). This would require any SIP to specifically consider holistic needs from the outset of planning, including the needs of those with physical disabilities, but also, perhaps, the needs of those with post-traumatic stress disorders, epilepsy, those carrying luggage or small children. Universal design and access plans, in line with the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act, would then be required for all SIPs, with the exception of a few items under Schedule 1.  Members asked why this was needed in this Bill, if the philosophy of universal design and access was already included in other building or design regulations. 

Meeting report

Chairperson's opening remarks
The Chairperson summarised that the functions of this Committee, representing Parliament, included the passing of laws, in which public participation played a fundamental part. Public participation was a central Constitutional imperative, enshrined in the work done by this Committee. Following the Minister's presentation on the Bill, this Committee thought it prudent to conduct public hearings as part of the Bill, in order to obtain as much external input as possible, and to ensure that Parliament passed a law of quality that would be most effective. All substantive issues coming out of the hearings would be considered by the Committee when it engaged with the Department of Economic Development (EDD) and in its report to Parliament. The public input was seen as an independent verification or source against which to measure the official data and information presented by the Department. There had been 28 written submissions, and there had been about 31 parties interested in making oral submissions, although some had needed to withdraw for various reasons. She assured all presenters that their written submissions had been thoroughly studied and their oral input today would be appreciated. She hoped that all presenters had studied the objects of the Bill, as it had become apparent in the last two days that there were some misunderstandings about the intention of the Bill and how it related to other projects that were ongoing. She urged presenters to use their time to present effectively and particularly to propose recommendations and solutions, rather than merely a broad critique.

Infrastructure Development Bill: Public hearings, day 3
South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) submission

Mr Desmond d'Sa, Office Coordinator, South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, briefly introduced the SDCEA as an environmental justice organisation, with several affiliates. He noted that the Infrastructure Development Bill (the Bill) had come as a shock to the communities in Durban. Similar to their experiences with re-zonings recently done at e-Thekwini, this Bill appeared to have been “drawn in the library”. Despite intense interaction by ministers with the communities around port expansion, there had been no documents presented to communities nor any really meaningful consultation with them.  A stakeholder forum, with a bottom-up approach to developing policy, was agreed upon, yet that had not happened. The plans presented seemed to be a fait accompli.

Mr F Beukman (ANC) raised a point of order, noting that this presentation should be directed to a discussion of the Bill.

The Chairperson said that she had been trying to get a sense of the main thrust of the presentation.

Mr d'Sa said he was outlining the background before addressing the Bill. This Bill would affect thousands of people in South Durban and it may involve forced removals. It did not take into account community concerns. In regard to port expansion, there was no sense that there would be further consultation. The Minister of Economic Development and the Department of Economic Development (EDD) had never once come to Durban. There were no timeframes; the SDCEA only heard of this Bill when it was advertised for comment by Parliament and the communities had no idea of what informed the Bill.

The Chairperson asked him to clarify that point. This was not a draft Bill, but a final Bill tabled to Parliament and now before the Committee for consideration. The Committee had been informed by the EDD that there was an earlier draft, on which there had been consultation before the final version of the Bill was presented. She asked Mr d'Sa to critique the Bill and proffer solutions to problematic clauses, rather than outlining such broad concerns.

Mr d'Sa reiterated that no documentation had been made available that informed the Bill. There had been no public hearings in the area. The SDCEA therefore called for urgent establishment of a resourced stakeholder forum, adequate resources, translation of documents and public hearings. It felt that the Bill seemed to be pushing an agenda of fossil-carbon dependence, despite problems that this caused to the environment and individuals. He outlined that expansion in Durban was impacting on people's livelihoods and seemed to emphasis economic development at all costs. Civil society had not been consulted. Presently, fishers’ livelihoods were being destroyed and there was no real insight as to what repercussions this Bill would have.

SDCEA believed that Strategic Infrastructure Projects (SIPs) would cause major problems with sea currents. Mr d’Sa had participated on the committee drafting amendments on the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) but only at the very last meeting did a Departmental official request amendments to synchronise Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) requirements with this Bill. The EIAs were being undermined and he was particularly concerned on that point too. Again, this was a result of lack of proper consultation. There was a great concern that this Bill would ride roughshod over everything else.

The entire Bill seemed to be premised on economic growth. Whilst SDCEA agreed with job creation, it was necessary to achieve a balance and have sustainable economic development. This Bill would not get the country to that point, nor protect future generations. He pointed out that SDCEA was particularly concerned about truck routes, given the huge congestion and accident rate, which the Bill would allow.

The Chairperson interjected to note that the comments were far too general. She asked Mr d’Sa instead to make reference to specific clauses of the Bill. The Committee was aiming, through the public hearings, to get public comment on particular clauses and how they might be improved. Given the nature of the presentation, she did not think she could allow it to continue.

Mr Beukman said that Mr d’Sa’s written submission dealt with local issues and local municipality matters, and also had not dealt specifically with the wording of the Bill.

The Chairperson added that this Bill had now been tagged as a section 76 bill and that meant that communities would have the opportunity to participate through the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) process. Other public hearings would be called, and communities and entities would be able to participate, through the provincial legislature. She recommended that he make good use of that forum. She thanked him for his interest and participation this morning but could not give him any more time.

Tebogo Kebotlhale submission
Mr Tebogo Kebotlhale, in his private capacity, noted that he had participated in governmental structures for the past 18 years and felt it important to comment on the Bill. He was particularly interested in seeing the nation and economy grow, and the development of responsible citizenry in South Africa. He believed that infrastructure development could achieve those aims. However, he also wished to offer comment on areas where he felt the Bill fell short.

Mr Kebotlhale noted that the Bill spoke to the need to embark upon projects with SADC countries, but was not explicit enough on this point and it would be important to have more information to know what would be done for the development of the Continent. The overall direction of development of infrastructure in Africa was known, but the specific provision in the Bill also noted the importance of national interest and that still needed to be deliberated upon, defined and explained. It would be important to learn from industrialisation experiences in other countries, but whatever was done must be in line with national goals and interests. Many countries were more developed than South Africa, and it was lagging behind. That was why this Bill was being processed.

He believed that the Bill also said too little on the role that institutions of learning would play. It was important to develop skills in the country, to grow the economy, develop the nation and a responsible citizenry. It was thus imperative for the planners to identify key skills necessary to achieve growth in the economy and citizenry. This would have to be done on a deliberate basis, bearing in mind the ultimate goals.

He believed that it would be necessary to have regulations to close the gaps in the Bill, which should be developed after a consultation process. Several presenters had raised the issue of consultation, but he did not quite understand their concerns, as he noted that the Bill had been publicised in newspapers. Whilst it could be argued that more should have been done, this at least had provided an opportunity for consultation. It must also be remembered that leaders would have to provide leadership and drive matters forward, and not be held back by over-long consultations.

He believed that partnerships were key, and this should be dealt with in the Bill. It would be necessary to draw on experiences of others.

The Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPs) must find a way into the Integrated Development Plans (IDPs). The Bill already provided for a Steering Committee and who would constitute that. In his view, that was sufficient consultation as municipalities would be represented in those committees.

The National Development Plan (NDP) was over-arching but basic infrastructure imperatives would have to be attended to, and they were at this stage backlogged. There were still many villages today without electricity, although the “hallelujah” (major high-tech infrastructure) projects were ongoing. Other issues, such as lack of storm-water management, was also of concern, as seen in so many places. Whilst he did not disagree with the need for major projects, he would like to emphasise that sanitation, roads, community halls, sporting and recreational facilities and bridges were all basic infrastructure needs that also had to be attended to as a matter of priority. He wondered how government would address the infrastructure backlogs.

He summarised that proposals on infrastructure development across the country should be developed. A databank would be necessary, and proposals must be taken from communities and municipalities. The Bill noted at present that projects should be approved by the Steering Committee, but he believed that they should be approved by the management committee. The Steering Committee should debate and design, but final responsibility should rest with the management committee.

Ms D Chili (ANC) noted that Mr Kebotlhale had spoken of projects not listed in the Bill, and asked for an elaboration of which projects he felt should have been included in the Bill.

Mr S Motau (DA) noted several references to gaps needing to be filled by regulation, and confirmed that regulations would follow. He asked for a single example of what such regulations should cover, in the opinion of the presenter.

Mr Beukman noted the reference to possibly increased involvement of local government. However, clause 3(e) already specified that executive mayors and the Chair of the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) would be represented. He asked if that was not sufficient.

Mr Z Ntuli (ANC) asked whether Mr Kebotlhale had looked carefully at the objects of the Bill; it was not intended to replace the functions currently resting with organs of state. There were IDP processes. Clause 2(g) outlined issues around skills, and said that infrastructure development must advance national development goals, including industrialisation, skills and youth and job creation, broad based economic empowerment and regional economic integration. The Bill tried to address the bottlenecks and address concerns around the pace of development. He suggested that the presenter should re-read the Bill and make specific suggestions to strengthen clauses.

The Chairperson also referred Mr Kebotlhale to Schedule 1, which also referred to normal municipal functions. The Bill spoke to SIPs. When the President launched the different SIPs, these included regional infrastructure, especially in relation to the scarce resources of water and road infrastructure (including corridors). These SIPs were explicitly set out. She would ask the EDD to make a summary of the national infrastructure plan available to Mr Kebotlhale.

She added that the Bill also aimed to fast-track actions to resolve municipal challenges, such as waste disposal and storm water drainage. She suggested that he look again at what the Bill said about designation of infrastructure projects and how they would be identified. It was necessary to read the clauses holistically, and to note that they complemented, did not replace, other initiatives. The Bill was intended to be a special intervention. Government had done its own analysis of where the bottlenecks were to try to address backlogs and fast-track infrastructure development.

Mr Kebotlhale was asked to respond very briefly, and asked if he could substantiate his submission in writing.

The Chairperson agreed to this.

Mr Kebotlhale thought, in answer to Mr Motau, that regulations must be specific on the role of colleges and universities in supporting the objects of the Bill, and matters such as curriculum development would have to be covered. Parameters should be clearly designed. He agreed that there would be consultation through roadshows, and he stressed to Mr Beukman that the point he was trying to make was that he felt that there had in fact been adequate consultation.

Mr Sisa Maboza submission
Mr Sisa Maboza, in his private capacity, noted that various issues were raised in his written submission, but in his oral presentation he intended to focus on one point only, relating to transport. The Bill seemed to be overlooking the long-term nature of infrastructure projects, particularly in that it did not provide explicitly for protection of transport corridors between the planning and implementation phases. This was something that needed to be included in his view. These kinds of projects were planned many years before they were implemented, and unless the gaps were addressed, the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission (PICC) would run into problems by the time they were to be implemented.

He referred to some specific projects in the rail domain, pointing out that although plans were made in the 1980s already for development of new freight and commuter road corridors, they had not been implemented yet.  Legislation drawn up subsequent to the plans did not specifically refer to the plans and did not pay enough attention to the long term nature of the projects. Some corridors had been compromised, being encroached upon by settlements or challenged by developers because they had no legal status. They had not been properly contained and servitudes were not registered. Unless legislation protected those corridors, it would be possible for developers to insist upon development rights. When government land had been incorporated into the land use management systems of municipalities, that point was not addressed. This Bill should now rectify that position.

Mr Maboza realised, having listened to previous inputs, that he might have misconstrued the Bill himself, but even if there were some points of misunderstanding, he still felt that the question needed to be addressed, to avoid the need for expropriation and displacement of people who had settled on the corridors. He recommended the inclusion of a clearly articulated clause setting out that the transport corridors planned would have a status that could not be legally challenged, and suggested that the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) be allowed, through its legal department, to jointly formulate clauses, with the drafters, to ensure protection of those corridors between planning and implementation phase.

His final proposal related to the identification of projects, and he proposed that annually, municipalities should be allowed to prioritise corridors in their transport planning, and then present them to the PICC.

The Chairperson noted that Mr Maboza had not indicated where, in the Bill, he felt that the amendments should appear. His presentation had been rather general in nature. She also felt that perhaps he may not fully appreciate that this Bill was not intended to re-define the transport legislation, and reminded him that the Bill made reference to other existing legislation. The current legal and policy frameworks would not be replaced. The Bill would merely streamline and foster synergies where needed. The presentation raised some useful points, but it was also rather limiting. She suggested that perhaps he should seek the opportunity to give deeper input when regulations dealing with practical and operational matters were drafted.

Mr A van der Westhuizen (DA) said that the written submission referred to the process for submission of proposals for classification under the National Infrastructure Plan, and that would be considered when the Committee progressed to deliberations. He had the impression that transport corridors were in fact kept open by registration of servitudes over the land, dealt with by the South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL). He asked whether the system was working and suggested that if it was not, then changes might be needed to the transport legislation, rather than this Bill taking over processes from other State agencies.

Mr Ntuli agreed with the Chairperson that Mr Maboza should come up with more specifics on regulations. He did not believe that his proposals necessarily needed to be included in the Bill.

Mr Maboza responded that he had, at one stage, thought that it would be appropriate to propose amendments to current transport legislation. However, given that the Bill was addressing infrastructure development projects and coordination of planning, he had then concluded that the PICC and Committee should be made aware of the challenges that existed at the moment, and that the Bill might address the gaps in order to address all long-term development of infrastructure. He agreed that perhaps the Land Transport Act or the transport services legislation should be addressed, but pointed out that they did not really deal with long-term railway development projects, yet this Bill did deal with long-term infrastructure and referred to planning, identification and designation, so he was still of the view that an infrastructure bill could properly deal with such requirements. He would speak to the legal team in PRASA, and ask them to come up with sound regulations that would protect the railway resources. However, he reiterated that the Bill should not ignore the fact that some of the transport corridors were not currently legally protected and were at risk from encroachments. One transport SIP had been identified and planned in Western Cape which was essential to reducing travel times and minimising transport costs for households, yet it had not been protected and there was another linking two municipalities in Johannesburg which also was likely to become a SIP. If it was not protected in legislation, nor protected by a servitude, it was at risk.

The Chairperson asked Mr Maboza to expand on what he meant by “encroachment” and “legal protection”.

Mr Maboza reiterated that only some corridors had servitudes registered, whilst other commuter services routes had been identified where no servitudes were registered, and they were not noted on any Surveyor-General documents, only on non-binding Spatial Development Framework plans of municipalities.

The Chairperson took the point, but also noted that this Bill already acknowledging that other legal environments would remain and consultative processes (albeit shortened and more efficient) would still take place. She asked Mr Maboza to consider making a further submission if there were possible conflicts, and to specify where exactly he felt that changes could be incorporated, ideally also with draft wording.

Mr Maboza said that he had prepared a draft, but suggested that the Committee or drafters should liaise with PRASA.

The Chairperson noted that PRASA had not commented on the Bill so this would not be possible. She asked that Mr Maboza send his drafts to the Committee.

Institute of Municipal Engineering SA (IMESA) submission
Mr Jannie Petersen, Past President, Institute of Municipal Engineering SA, noted that he was presently in charge of infrastructure management at e-Thekwini. He noted that he had been out of the country, but requested the opportunity to send through more detailed comment on the Bill’s provisions in the next few days.

He noted that infrastructure delivery was central to government attempts to boost employment. Whilst it was true that many short-term job opportunities could be created through infrastructure development, it was possible to create sustainable jobs through infrastructure asset management (IAM). He reminded Members that it was not only new projects, but also existing infrastructure that would empower the nation. Most of the infrastructure assets at the moment fell under municipal engineers.

The Bill, although dealing with infrastructure development, was largely silent on IAM, although municipal engineers believed that such management was an essential component of rollout. The Bill mentioned maintenance, but there was a substantial difference between asset management and maintenance. IAM was proactive, whereas maintenance was reactive. There must be forward planning. At e-Thekwini Metropolitan Municipality, a current asset management plan had been introduced, which had involved a substantial assessment of risk to identify which infrastructure needed attention. He submitted that a loose use of “maintenance” was not sufficient. The current replacement costs of assets in the major cities amounted to over R2 000 billion. It must be remembered that it was these assets that powered industry.

Mr Pietersen said that although page 14 of the Bill listed some items, it did not mention building, coastal management, storm water and parks, all of which should be added.

He noted that the objective of IAM was to provide an agreed level of service in the most cost effective manner for present and future communities. He believed it was essential for municipalities to be audited against this objective. He tabled a pie-chart showing that huge effort was put into building infrastructure, but operational maintenance would later be done only in a reactive manner. Around 98% of the R2 billion capital infrastructure related to maintenance but it was not being managed properly. He submitted that IAM would provide a platform for economic and social development and was the cornerstone of public health and safety. Good assets were taken for granted by communities until they failed. Poor IAM would impact negatively on business and economic growth, resulting in discernible decline in the quality of life, leading to public protests, and ripple effects on the next generation. IAM was not attended to currently in many organisations, and they were beset by challenges of paucity of information, inadequate risk management, and acute capacity constraints, which together amounted to “a catastrophe waiting to happen”.

Without a proper total asset management plan, the country would continue to engage in wasteful actions such as roads being laid, then dug up because the water mains needed replacing. Australia and New Zealand were leading in asset management processes. He tabled a flow chart drawn on their experiences (see attached powerpoint) and stressed that none of the processes mentioned there should be skipped. He emphasised that some of the most important questions to be answered included the current state of assets, the required level of service and a full risk analysis, for there was no point in spending 80% of money and time on assets that posed 1% of risk. Asset management plans would inform capital and revenue budgets.

In conclusion, he summarised that asset management was critical to any infrastructure-intensive business, and this must be done as a total enterprise. Culture change was crucial, and all changes must be planned thoroughly, with buy-in, followed by the right application of resources and proper monitoring of progress. He believed strongly that a quality framework by which infrastructure assets were managed was needed, to drive the national programme. The approach to IAM should be standardised, with the necessary financial provision made to support it. These issues should be addressed by the Bill and should be fully covered in subsequent regulations, reinforced with audit assessments.

The Chairperson noted that the time allocated had lapsed. Whilst several points had been made, Mr Pietersen’s presentation had largely addressed operational issues, and she felt that there was general agreement that there were weaknesses in the current state of infrastructure. However, his presentation did not actually address any weaknesses in the Bill, and perhaps this was not the best platform to address the points he was making.

Mr Motau asked if the passing of the Bill was likely to ameliorate the bleak picture painted, or make it worse.

Ms M Mohorosi (ANC) referred to clause 18(1) of the Bill, which was clear on environmental issues, and said that whenever environmental assessments were required, they must be done under the NEMA. She asked if this would not ensure that environmental requirements were complied with.

Mr Ntuli asked what specific changes Mr Pietersen was suggesting to the Bill.

The Chairperson asked for more elaboration on the comment that there was a catastrophe waiting to happen. She noted that before the National Development Plan (NDP) was prepared, quite elaborative diagnostics had been done of the challenges, which had identified many of the issues raised in the presentation. The Bill was trying to respond to that diagnosis. She asked whether he thought this Bill might be able to help in diminishing those challenges.

Mr Pietersen said that although the introduction to the Bill referred to the management of infrastructure during all life-cycle phases, the rest of the Bill was silent on that point. For instance, page 5 of the Bill spoke to several issues, in (h) and (i), but did not speak to infrastructure management plans. Without such plans, however, no informed decisions could be made. He thought this should be both defined and dealt with in depth in the Bill. A national Asset Management Steering Committee was needed, and perhaps this could flow from the steering committees referred to in the Bill. Furthermore, a top slice of financing was needed for infrastructure asset management. Answering Ms Mohorosi’s point, he said that if infrastructure planning was done as proposed, then environmental and other laws would be included in the total plan. He reiterated that about 45 municipalities in the Free State did not have proper asset registers. The NDP was an excellent document, but the Bill should be more specific on asset management. This point needed to be emphasised to the Steering Committees and more focus was needed on properly managing the existing infrastructure. Reactive maintenance would still come from positive asset plans.

The Chairperson asked Mr Pietersen to go through the Bill in more depth, and make written suggestions if appropriate.

South African National Council for the Blind (SANCB) submission
Mr Jace Nair, National Executive Director, South African National Council for the Blind, noted that this Council had over 100 member organisations providing a wide range of services, including early childhood development, schools of education and training, and organisations involved in sport, and publication of braille texts. It was also affiliated to the South African Disability Alliance (SADA), which coordinated advocacy for those with disabilities.

Mr Nair noted that the particular concerns of SANCB related to accessibility. It was supportive of much of the Bill. At the moment, the blind and partially sighted faced several barriers from the physical perspective, as well as access to information. In particular, he wanted to raise four points about the Bill.

The first comment related to the definition of “persons”. SANCB believed that this should be further amplified to include marginalised persons and disabled peoples' organisations, to ensure that they received proper recognition in the Bill. SANCB was encouraged by clauses 4 and 12, which did provide a good basis for persons with disabilities. However, it recommended that people with disabilities, representatives of SADA or appropriately qualified professionals with disability should be included in the steering committees, as well as being part of the consultative process, to ensure that the needs and aspirations of those with disabilities were specifically recognised and incorporated in all SIPs. This would ensure that universal access needs formed an integral part of all projects, and would pre-empt the need for later, costly alterations. Clauses 4(1)(c), 12(8)(a) and 21 could be used to assist in this regard.

Clause 13 was another positive clause, which should remain in place.

SANCB believed that sustainable growth and development and equal opportunities for all citizens must be offered.

The Chairperson noted that this presentation had been clear and precise, and Members did not need to ask any questions. She said that these proposals would be considered further by the Committee.

Centre for Civil Society submission
Professor Patrick Bond, University of KwaZulu Natal and representative of the Centre for Civil Society noted that in Durban there was a very high level of infrastructure development. The Centre for Civil Society (CCS) believed that Schedule 2 – which set out the fast-tracking strategy – was, to borrow the phrase of Mr Pietersen, a catastrophe waiting to happen. Nobody could dispute that infrastructure development was needed, but there should be a re-think of the SIP programmes. He feared that the Bill, in its current form, would hasten irrational infrastructure construction, multiply the “herd of white elephants” that already were apparent in so many projects, whilst actually slowing down action and spending on the most basic needs infrastructure because these projects would be given lower fiscal priority. The result of poor infrastructure had been service delivery unrest, but it was unfortunate that these uprisings were sporadic, flared up and then died down without sparking real change.

He further noted that there were many concerns about the Bill’s effect on environmental issues. In South Africa a old guard of climate denialists was in existence, and the passing of this Bill would only facilitate their aims. The Bill was anticipating only 250 days for Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs). He did not believe that this would do anything to provide for the most basic yet urgent community needs of housing, water and sanitation, but would provide for more white elephants.

He submitted that five of the areas aimed in Schedule 1 should be contained in a separate bill because they did not offer any benefit to broader communities. He cited these areas as the construction of power stations (which would benefit BHP Billiton, who already received the cheapest electricity in the world, but not the ordinary consumer), ports, oil and gas pipelines, and airports. He noted that this morning he had been through an under-capacitated King Shaka Airport.

The main question was who would benefit and win from the new infrastructure spending. He tabled an article from Business Day reflecting a comment that South Africa needed to mind more, and faster, and export more. However, he suggested that the Minister of Economic Development should be asked what lessons had been learned from other huge projects, which he believed would prove that the only ones to benefit were the big corporates. If return on investment was the line of thinking adopted, the infrastructure may not happen. He recommended that no subsidies should be given to multi-national companies.

The National Development Plan (NDP) acknowledged that policy makers had failed in their objectives, including the growth and redistribution strategies, because the country failed to anticipate external shocks. He feared that the infrastructure development programme, with its export-intensive and carbon-heavy focus, would face the same challenges. Whilst South Africa, through participation in BRICS, was hoping for change, global good governance was still not a reality. The rise of emerging markets may result in local factory closures and lower wages. SIP1 was mining-intensive, but if mining output did not increase, its value was questionable.

He believed that some good diagnostics had been undertaken. The Bill should set out and appreciate the needs for better infrastructure for the masses (like houses, schools and clinics), where more investment was required, and the over-investment that had put into major projects like Coega, and e-tolling, as well as the experiences of the past that had regrettably seen large but corrupt construction companies benefit most.

The lesson to be learned from 2010 was that not enough thought had gone into the planning of the stadiums, as acknowledged by Mr Jordaan. In Durban, two empty stadiums sat next to each other, in part due to poor management but again the only ones to benefit were the construction companies. He feared that fast-tracking of this kind of infrastructure would curse the democracy in South Africa. It had been said that Durban needed more port capacity, but the projections of 20 million containers by 2014 were completely unrealistic and not enough attention had been paid to the consequences of heavy trucking and carrying of containers, despite the death of 24 people who had been killed when a container slid off a truck.

He said that one of the most extreme abuses of mega-projects was the Durban-Johannesburg pipeline. The original estimates were R6 billion, which had since escalated to R23 billion, with the pipeline also being re-routed from the white to the black areas, largely because of systemic failures in Transnet, including lack of risk analysis, and trouble securing authorisations, which was attributed to “EIAs and water licences not pursued with sufficient foresight and vigour”. He urged that such assessments and licence processes should not be fast-tracked and recommended the removal of Schedule 2 from the Bill. He noted that the Department of Environmental Affairs was also concerned that proper processes must be followed and had recently rejected an application from Transnet because it failed to consider sandbank impacts, nor taken climate matters on board. Transnet, in trying to pursue this latter application, had relied on an “EIA specialist” but many of these specialists were also climate denialists. This particular specialists provided data that was five years old when asked to speak to rising sea levels. He questioned whether it was desirable at all to try to bring the ships into Durban port that were causing the vast majority of emission problems through bunker fuel.

Professor Bond said that there were many questions that remained unanswered. South Africa was already hugely carbon intensive and there was a need to drop carbon emissions. Infrastructure development goals that would encourage low carbon use were needed. Extreme weather events already occurring in Durban could not be ignored, and he cited that this city faced the worst crisis.

CCR recommended five changes to the bill. The first was to reverse decisions, and enforce the existing legislation properly. The second was to drop, from the Bill, the five SIP projects to which he had referred under Schedule 1. Ideally, Schedule 2 should be dropped. However, the alternative to this would be to stop the Schedule 2 fast-tracking processes or at least have a critical look again at the thinking behind the SIPs, to ensure that no more white elephant projects were created. The Bill should recognise the factors that made South Africa so vulnerable to external events. The infrastructure mandate should be revised, so that the country attended to basic needs development first. South Africa’s planner must take climate change seriously, and shift their infrastructure policy to promote renewable energy, public transport, less trade-vulnerability, and have a complete re-think on the infrastructure structure. Finally, South Africa should plan and implement a post-pollution, post-carbon and million climate-jobs campaign.

Mr Motau was pleased to see the suggestions at the end as he had wondered what might happen if the five items were deleted, but Schedule 2 still remained.

Mr van der Westhuizen made the point that it was not possible to have “half infrastructure” The main problem seemed to be with the planning. If this was properly done, speeding up of the implementation phase may not be as serious as Professor Bond had implied.

Mr S Mohai (ANC) asked for clarity on the point that exports made South Africa more vulnerable. The Bill aimed in part to focus on projects that drove development and inclusive growth. To him, it did not make sense to dismiss the relevance of bigger projects with larger economic impact. He agreed that there were problems with the 2010 infrastructure, and the fact that South Africa had been dictated to, which resulted in over-design of infrastructure. However, it must be recognised that South Africa, as part of the global environment, also operated under conditions not of its own choosing. He asked if the State had the technical ability to complete projects within certain time frames. State capacity must be treated as an ongoing issue, and he believed the Bill assisted in this regard. Infrastructure was not a neutral social activity, but where it was located was important. South Africa had to look to a master plan.

Mr M Kwankwa (UDM) was glad to see that some proposals had been made to improve the Bill. He asked whether Prof Bond thought it fair to cite problems in isolated projects as a reason not to proceed with infrastructure that would economic development.

Mr Beukman said that proper academic debate must consider all arguments, and he questioned if Prof Bond had read the submission made by the Minister when introducing the Bill, which listed reasons why it was necessary to formalise and fast-track the development, and in which the lessons learned from 2010 were also outlined. Housing was a major problem, but this Bill could also drive the process to ensure that basic services were given to the people of the country.

Mr Ntuli said that he was a little disappointed by this contribution. He disputed that there was always a risk of  major projects becoming white elephants. Prof Bond seemed to be opposed to any larger projects. South Africa was not suggesting that it needed to address major projects only, so Mr Ntuli disagreed with his suggestions to drop those. The whole reason for mega-infrastructure was to try to enhance economic development. He asked if South Africa was taking steps along the BRICs path.

The Chairperson agreed with some of the diagnosis of the problems, and said that South Africa should come up with its own way of dealing with matters. The mention of mega-projects in the Bill did not mean that the smaller ones would be ignored, especially those geared to meeting basic human needs. As Mr Mohai had pointed out, South Africa was competing with developed countries, and wanted to move faster to developed level. South Africa should be commended for some bold decisions and actions taken. She was not sure whether advocating for import-inclined processes would help South Africa in its own development. Some countries had to focus inward before achieving what they wanted to do. South Africa should localise, to ensure that its own entrepreneurs could participate in the global world through exportation of their own goods and services. She also did not agree with Prof Bond’s sentiments that the fast-tracking of projects should stop, because they may be white elephants. Some projects were indeed not used to the maximum, but she did not think this automatically condemned them as white elephants - for instance, the stadiums could be used if there were improvements to sporting activities, and development plans in the country, and the legal framework and policies, could address that issue. The country was trying to move on development of all projects that were currently being undertaken, but, parallel to that, fast-tracking was being pursued, in part to address the demands of the people for better services.

Professor Bond wanted to stress that the evidence over the last 20 years was that the drive to competitiveness by South Africa had failed. The World Economic Forum competitiveness report noted that South Africa ranked third in having a strong financial system, but Professor Bond said that perhaps bankers were putting too much energy into financing real-estate and this did not explain why South Africa had the highest real-estate bubble in the world, nor address the question whether competitiveness in financial matters was actually desirable. South Africa ranked first in the world for militancy of the workforce, and that was even before the Marikana and Western Cape farm events, so this was a serious concern that government must address.

He clarified for the Chairperson that he believed that import-substitution (not to import) was needed. Prior to South Africa joining trade forums it had not imported, but locally manufactured footwear, textiles and other goods. South Africa could not compete – nor was it desirable to emulate the practice of – Chinese footwear manufacturers, for instance, and he was suggesting that this degree of globalisation should be driven down.

He agreed that there were large and small projects, but the main question was their comparative allocations. In 2012, R850 billion was allocated for infrastructure spending, but it was necessary to look critically at how much of that was spent on basic and urgent needs of water and sanitation. The bulk of the spending went to SIP 1 and 2. SIP1 was linked with mining and coal exports. Mining and use of coal adversely affected climate change, the coal price was dropping and Eskom was now finding itself left with poorer quality coal and brown-outs. SIP2 – the Durban port – was the biggest single site port and he would argue that it was irrational. Projects such as Medupi and Kusile power stations should be subjected to stringent cost-benefit analyses. Ordinary consumers would not benefit from these stations. He reiterated that BHP Billiton was paying 12c per kWh, whereas residents were paying over R1 per kWh. In this sense, it could be argued that South Africa was even more unequal after 1994 than before. The huge construction projects benefitted corrupt companies. Whilst he agreed that the 2010 World Cup was a once-off, he pleaded that South Africa should not pursue the idea of hosting the Olympics. In regard to airports, he submitted that not enough thought had been given to points raised by many that King Shaka should not be built, but Durban International Airport expanded instead.

Prof Bond confirmed that he had read the responses of Minister Patel, in the National Development Plan, but noted that he had not dealt with issues of climate, ongoing subsidisation and other issues. He cited the Minister of Police, who had confirmed that there had been 1 882 violent protests in 2013, and said that this was an indication of the mood in the country if it was to continue with the Infrastructure Development Plans as outlined in the Bill and cautioned that extreme events would unfold over the next few years.

The Chairperson said that the Minister of Economic Development would still be giving responses on the several critical issues raised during presentations, and it would be important to have ongoing dialogue on many of the points. All policy and ideological perspectives must be understood, and this Committee did not intend to side-step any issues. She welcomed the input and statement of challenges and would ensure that the submissions were considered in depth.

Future Thought Collective submission
Mr Mkhululi Makholwa, representative of Future Thought Collective, said that Future Thought believed that the main challenge in South Africa was the need to rise above the norm and to be bold and innovative. South Africa faced great needs to boost job creation and the New Growth Path had emphasised that “bold, imaginative and effective” strategies were needed. A principal target of creation of 5 million jobs in the next ten years had been put forward.

He submitted that South Africa had to move from the industrial-age economy to a green economy. Every new technological advance would have an effect on future generations.

The challenges also presented opportunities. South Africa was Africa’s economic powerhouse, driven by its agriculture, mining, manufacturing and tourism, and its vast mineral deposits.  It had good relationships with the BRICS countries and other African nations. More could be done to exploit the opportunities. South Africa was also the gateway to other African countries and foreign investment continued to improve.

However, he noted that post modern solutions were needed for the economy to thrive. South Africa was more adaptable than other industrialised nations. It did, however, lag behind on innovation, compared to India, so that there was a need for more emphasis on education leading to engineering and technical advancement. South Africa had not invested as heavily as other countries in industrial-age economic infrastructure, so it had  better chance now of adapting to new innovation. It could be a test-bed for new green technology and one of the primary ways it was suggested that this be done was by implementing the high-speed magnetic levitation transport systems, which he would now focus upon in this presentation.

Mr Makholwa noted that these systems were already in use in Japan and Germany. The Maglev system was a new mode of transport to join ship, wheel and plane. It could move passengers and freight at much higher speeds and lower cost, using less energy. These trains could, for instance, travel at up to 500 km/hr, without the cost of jet fuel.

The Chairperson interjected to note that this presentation was not really addressing the Bill, and she did not think that this was the right forum to promote a particular transport mode, which was not the intention behind the public hearings. Mr Makholwa’s written submission also did not speak to the Bill itself, other than motivating that this mode of transport be introduced. She was not sure why he had been invited to present as his presentation was more apposite to the Portfolio Committee on Transport.

Mr Makholwa said that his presentation did speak to how this mode of transport could contribute to jobs.

The Chairperson noted that this Committee was not dealing with implementation, but the Bill, which proposed the fast-tracking of the development of infrastructure, which would include multi-modal transport. She was not suggesting that there was no merit in what he was saying, but merely that it did not relate to the Bill.

Mr Makholwa explained that he had thought that this might be a forum to make suggestions how to improve on infrastructure and economic development, taking into consideration future energy requirements.

The Chairperson noted again that it would not be fair to continue with the presentation in this forum and he was asked not to continue.

Joan Seirlis submission
Ms Joan Seirlis, in her private capacity, noted that she was an architect who had in the past undertaken work for municipalities and had represented the SA Institute of Architects at workshops to develop standards. She was familiar with legislation relating to her field and she had a deep interest in universal design. Some points in her presentation would echo earlier submissions made by the SANCB.

She wanted to make recommendations for insertions into clause 18 of the Bill, which was currently dealing with environmental assessments. This clause said that whenever an EIA was required, it must be done under NEMA. She was not familiar with that legislation. However, she submitted that it would be useful also to insert a new sub-clause to say that all SIPs should require the submission of a universal design and access plan, with reference to the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act (PEPUDA). Section 9 of that Act referred to supporting or enabling facility necessary for the functioning of disabled people in society and elimination of obstacles that limited those with disabilities from enjoying equal opportunities. That was a very powerful clause.

Having stated that, she summarised that universal design was a principle that had been alluded to earlier, and it formed a core part of international conventions dealing with rights of disabled people to which South Africa was a signatory.  Universal design extended also to information and communication technology, and to systems that helped people to navigate. In a single process, it would also take care of the needs of those without disabilities.

She stated that although South Africa had been one of the first signatories to international treaties on the rights of those with disabilities, its obligations had been poorly recognised by enforcement bodies. She said that unless the principles of universal design were specifically inserted into documents, including this Bill, the need to make it effective would be ignored. Government was one of he biggest developers, and would often provide guidelines as to the sort of facilities incorporated into buildings to comply with basic disability requirements. However, universal design did not envisage a mere “add-on” by way of cosmetic adjustments such as ramps and provision of disabled toilets, but an integral part of the project.

She submitted that her research in two municipalities had shown that difficulties were encountered not only by those with outward disabilities, but also by children, people trying to negotiate with prams, those carrying heavy luggage, those suffering post-traumatic stress disorder, and even women wearing high heels. Proper consideration to their needs must also be given, from the start of projects. In every developed country there was a need, often not addressed properly, to treat all people properly, and it must be remembered also that those with disability might include people with no outward manifestation, but people suffering from epileptic or diabetic or other health conditions. South Africa’s legislation sought to integrate those with disabilities into main-stream society.

She noted that whilst engineers often focused on looking after assets, architects tended to emphasise the needs of those actually using the infrastructure – and cited, as an example, the difference between maintaining a road surface and addressing whether the crossing points were safe.

She indicated that Schedule 1 set out a number of considerations, and she noted that whilst infrastructure such as waste management works, power stations and other such projects did not need to be covered by universal design access plans, but public roads should be included, with a focus on the end-users.

Mr van der Westhuizen asked whether the philosophy of universal design was included in building and design regulations. If so, he asked why she was suggesting it be included here.

The Chairperson also asked if Ms Seirlis believed it was provided for in other legislation, and, if so, why she was suggesting that it be explicitly accommodated also in the Bill. The implementors of the Bill would already need to take into account any other legislation dealing with these matters.

Ms Seirlis responded that legislation was in place, but enforcement was poor. There was, for instance, nothing in regulations to say what the height of a toilet door should be, nor to specify separate facilities for males and females, although certain principles were customarily applied. If specific requirements were not stated upfront for the SIPs, she believed that universal design principles would be ignored. Although some legislation did enshrine the principles, it was honoured more in the breach, and she had attempted to raise issues with the South African Human Rights Commission, to no final conclusion.

The Chairperson expressed the view that professionals in the built and related environments seemed to be looking inwards, rather than being willing to consult other documents that would broaden the scope of their knowledge and information. The silo mentality had been a problem. Not everything could be specified in every piece of legislation and she did not know of other legislation that specifically contained such provisions. However, it must be borne in mind that the drafters of this Bill had made it clear that this Bill must be read with and incorporate principles of other legislation.

Ms Seirlis said that despite the principles around disability access being accepted, when the 2010 stadiums had been built they lacked full access for the disabled and did not have sufficient safety mechanisms to ensure evacuation of those with disabilities. Her written submission emphasised the point that whatever was put in place must actually be implemented. She had complained about certain issues in the past, only to be told that these were old buildings in which implementation was very difficult.

Other Committee business
The Chairperson noted that the Committee would meet with the Minister on 28 January, to hear responses to these submissions. Additional information would be forwarded to Members when it was received from the presenters.

Mr van der Westhuizen noted that he still had a number of questions of his own to ask on the Bill – for instance, responsibility for financing of the various secretariats. He asked when Members would be able to ask those questions. It would help if they were tabled early on, to allow the Department to respond, but the Chairperson may wish to leave them over until after the Department had an opportunity to respond to the public submissions.

The Chairperson noted that there had been an opportunity already for the Committee to interact with the Minister on the Bill, although this was prior to Mr van der Westhuizen joining the Committee. He would be able to raise those issues on 28 January, during the interaction with the Minister. After that, the Committee would be proceeding to the clause-by-clause discussions.

She noted that another request from Mr van der Westhuizen would be attended to, depending on approval from the House Chairperson

The Committee was planning to visit the Department's offices in Pretoria and Sandton to interact with entities and the Department.

The meeting was adjourned.   

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