The Department, with input also from the Minister and Deputy Minister, presented its 2014 Strategic Plan, Annual Performance Plan, and described the budget allocations for 2014 for the various mode of transport, including bus, taxi and rail, maritime and civil aviation, as well at outlining the provincial road grants and the Public Transport Infrastructure Support to municipalities. The Department’s focus on key pieces of existing legislation and policies included the White Paper on National Transport Policy of 1996, Moving South Africa Action Agenda, 1999, and Rural Transport strategy of 2007. It was planning to introduce further updated legislation.
The Minister indicated that prior to 1994, there had been inconsistent and spacially-divisive investment in transport infrastructure, with little emphasis on affordable public transport. The National Transport Policy of 1996 sought to correct this, and although there had been some significant strides, much more was needed. The Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system was a catalyst for urban regeneration and reconnection to bring those in isolated nodes closer to economic opportunities. Transport infrastructure and services remained crucial for generating economic growth, alleviating poverty, reducing inequality and increasing domestic and international competitiveness. There was no single ideal universal funding model, and there were pros and cons to alternative models, but private sector investment was welcomed. The National Transport Master Plan (NATMAP), was referred to the Inter-Ministerial Committee, for consultation with the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission (PICC), and this constituted a long-term plan to roll out infrastructure and services, with a focus on integrated planning. The Minister conceded that the Department needed urgently to finalise the National Scholar Transport Policy, and to try to reduce road fatalities. She noted some background to the taxi industry and the plans for taxi recapitalisation and why this had not progressed as expected, but emphasised that the taxi sector was vital, that drivers had to be helped to graduate to other industries, and emphasised that safety of the South African passengers remained a priority. Land availability for transport systems was a problem that required work with the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform.
The Department set out the budget allocations and their division between the programmes, as well as how those programmes were in alignment with the National Development Plan. The budget totalled R48.7 billion for 2014/15, rising to R53.9 billion in 2015/16. This amount included allocations to provinces, municipalities, state owned companies and agencies. Road transport received 44.4%, rail transport had 38.9% and public transport 23.4%, whilst civil aviation and maritime each received 0.4%. It was responsible for transfer payments, and conditional grants to provinces and municipalities.
The Department’s Administrative programme was refining the organisational structure and developing integrated communications and strategic management. The Department hoped to fill 80 posts in this year although it also needed to increase its female staff component, and take on more interns. The Public Transport division was focusing on accelerating integrated transport systems so as to improve the overall productivity of South Africa. The Integrated Transport Planning programme received R81 million, and would provide economic modelling and analysis of the sector, including the creation of the consolidated transport databank. Integrated transport would play a critical role in reducing energy consumption and addressing environmental concerns. Rail Transport accounted for a large slice of use by the working population and sustainable policies, regulation and development were needed. R15 billion was allocated to this programme and the Department aimed to try to reduce the cost and improve services of Metrorail, as well as accelerate implementation of integrated rail services. A White Paper would address the main challenges.
The Road Transport programme was aware of the deterioration of road quality and emphasised that most provinces needed preventative maintenance and infrastructure development. Effective coordination with provinces and municipalities was vital particularly to allow the Department to monitor and evaluate the implementation of government programmes. The South African National Road Agency Limited (SANRAL) would provide critical support to road maintenance, and budget of R21.9 billion was to be transferred to state owned companies who were the delivery agents for the Department. The Civil Aviation Programme aimed to develop an economically viable air transport industry that was safe, secure, efficient and environmentally friendly, whilst also complying with international standards. A draft White Paper on the National Civil Aviation Policy was updated, and there were on-going consultations with provinces and stakeholders to introduce a National Airports Development Plan (NADP). The civil aviation programme was allocated R148 million for all its programmes. The Department was considering the introduction of low-fare airlines and the building and upgrading of airports. The Maritime programme exercised oversight of other public entities, and developed policies and strategies. There were six harbours, and new legislation and policy would prioritise their safety and environmental sustainability. A Green Paper and Salvage Strategy had been prepared. This programme received R110 million. Overall, land transport would need to be addressed by legislation, institutional building, planning and capacitation. 13 municipalities had already developed Integrated Public Transport Networks (IPTNs), and the six ongoing projects were expected to be completed by 2019. The Public Transport programme was allocated R11 billion.
Members were disappointed that job creation was not mentioned, and almost all Members urged that the vacant posts, particularly those of Director and Deputy Director, must be urgently filled. They questioned the slow progress of taxi-recapitalisation, said that abuse of taxi owners and drivers by the police must be noted, urged that the maritime industry must be transformed, and that poaching, illegal migration, piracy and other syndicated crimes across borders must be urgently addressed. The Department was asked to check the budgets for local government, as there were problems around misuse of public funding. They urged that Metrorail refurbishments were a priority. Members were concerned about the spending on consultancy fees, and urged the Department to develop its own skills. Particular briefings were requested on the Lesotho cross-border issues which were of ongoing concern. Members were also sorry that there had not been more focus on land availability and e-tolling, although the Deputy Minister confirmed that these issues were being addressed. They asked the Department to develop a freight databank, and said that although policies seemed good, the Department was lagging behind in implementation. Other issues questioned included the Moloto Development Corridor, the safety policy programmes, the need to handle matters such as Lwandle evictions with sensitivity, and affordability and accessibility of civil aviation to the general public. They noted the links between improving rail infrastructure and the growth of tourism, asked that Transport Information Centre (TICs) call centre be improved, as well as Mafikeng Airport. The costs of public transport, particularly the Gautrain, had to be addressed. Several Members urged the Department to come up with strategies to address appalling road conditions in rural areas, use of tractors on roads to carry passengers, potholes, and stressed that systems must be affordable and efficient. They asked that priority be given to addressing the racial imbalance of pilots, and needed briefings on energy consumption and environmental issues.
Ms Dipou Peters, Minister of Transport, indicated that South Africa was celebrating twenty years of freedom and democracy, and it was the main mandate of the Department of Transport (DOT or the Department) to ensure that those who were marginalised must be provided with affordable public transport to increase their mobility. When the African National Congress (ANC) government came to power in 1994, it inherited a transport system that had, at best, received investment that would benefit the white minority component of our society, and at worst, was faced with a transport system that had been under-funded, neglected and was based on blinkered apartheid spatial patterns. In order to deal with this situation, the ANC government developed the National Transport Policy that was published in August 1996.
Although significant strides had been made in the area of public transport since then – occasioned by major capital injection into transport related infrastructure - there was still much to be achieved. All across major cities, including Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Nelson Mandela Bay, Rustenburg and others, there was a growing investment in transport infrastructure, such as the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system which was a catalyst for urban regeneration, reconnecting isolated nodes and bringing disconnected communities closer to economic opportunities. To meet the Department’s commitments as the country had hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup, government had accelerated its build programme and invested billions to ensure a safe, efficient and reliable public transport system that resulted in world-class airports, roads, upgraded train stations and refurbished coaches. This drive to reshape public transport travel in South Africa continued. Transport infrastructure and services remained crucial for generating economic growth, alleviating poverty, reducing the scourge of inequality and increasing domestic and international competitiveness.
When financing transport infrastructure the Department was aware of South Africa’s institutional, economic and social characteristics, including various demands made on tax based revenues. The Department accepted the fact that there was no ideal universal funding model – as a choice among several models must be taken, each with their pros and cons. To this end, the Department welcomed the willingness of the private sector to invest in transport infrastructure. The Department’s effort to make transport the heartbeat of the economy continued.
Ms Peters said she was aware that transport was an enabling sector that impacted on growth and development in other sectors of the economy. The Department had tabled the National Transport Master Plan (NATMAP), which Cabinet had since referred to the Inter-Ministerial Committee, for consultation with the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission (PICC). The NATMAP would constitute a long term plan to further position transport as an enabler for social and economic development, by rolling out infrastructure and services that responded to the needs of all South Africans and ensured that the country was able to meet Millennium Development Goals. NATMAP focused on integrated transport planning to ensure that the different modes of transport complemented each other.
Ms Peters stated that the Department needed to finalise the National Scholar Transport Policy, as much time had already been wasted in the attempts to finalise this policy. She noted great concern that there were a growing number of road fatalities, especially during the Easter and December holidays.
The taxi industry played a crucial role in the South African economy, as it contributed to R40 billion and was employing more than 300 000 people. There was a need to modernise the taxi industry, to allow taxi drivers to graduate to other industries like aviation, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and shipping. The taxi recapitalisation was specifically formed to deal with the problem of non-roadworthy minibus taxis. Ms Peters also indicated that the slow pace of the taxi recapitalisation was due to the fact that the majority of South Africans were heavily indebted, including the taxi operators, therefore it became extremely difficult for them to get funding. Many taxi operators chose to keep their old taxis rather than having to go through a process of recapitalisation. Another reason for the slow pace of taxi recapitalisation was that the prices of new taxis had risen beyond the amount offered by the Department as a scrapping allowance. She emphasised that the Department needed to look at various ways to accelerate taxi recapitalisation in order to ensure that the safety of the South African passengers remained a priority.
Ms Peters concluded that the Department needed to explore various ways to deal with the problem of land availability for transport systems, and this problem could only be addressed by working with the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform.
Department of Transport: 2014 budget and strategic plan
Mr Mawethu Vilane, Acting Director-General, Department of Transport, welcomed everyone and introduced the delegation. He indicated that the Department would make a brief presentation on its Strategic Plan for the next five years, focusing on the Annual Performance Plan (APP) and also on the 2014/15 budget allocation. He indicated that the Department of Transport was responsible for regulation of various transportation in South Africa, which included public transport, rail transportation, civil aviation, shipping, freight and motor vehicles. Key policies and legislation included the White Paper on National Transport Policy of 1996, Moving South Africa Action Agenda of 1999, and Rural Transport strategy of 2007. The Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) focused on the National Development Plan (NDP) 2030 vision and trajectory. Mr Vilane indicated that South Africa needed to invest in a strong network of economic infrastructure designed to support economic and social objectives. Economic infrastructure was a pre-condition for basic services, specifically electricity, sanitation, telecommunication and public transport.
The first five years (2014-2019) of the National Development Plan (NDP) suggested that there must be focus on the movement towards an inclusive and dynamic and economy, and the second five to 2024 would have greater emphasis on the diversification of the economy, building capacity required to produce capital and intermediary goods for the infrastructure programme. From 2024-2030 there were plans to have a focus on increasing the labour force, and reducing inequality and poverty, as these challenges were also identified in the State of the Nation Address (SONA). The NDP clearly stated that the economy needed to be inclusive, equitable and fast growing and this could be achieved by growing employment, supporting productivity, improving efficiency and moving towards greater equality. In order to achieve this, the NDP cited the need for provision of more affordable and efficient infrastructure linked to higher levels of public investment, responsive and efficient regulations, and also appropriate sector strategies.
Mr Collins Letsoalo, Chief Financial Officer, Department of Transport, indicated that he would deal with the budget allocation of the Department of Transport. The budget estimates for 2014/15 showed that the Department would be allocated R48.7 billion and this was expected to increase to R53.9 billion in 2015/16. This amount included allocations to provinces, municipalities, state owned companies and agencies. The budget was allocated to seven overarching programmes, which were those for Administration, Integrated Transport Planning, Rail, Road, Maritime, Public Transport and Civil Aviation. The road transport sector took a big chunk (44, 4%) of the budget, followed by rail transport (38, 9%) and then public transport (23.4%). Administration accounted for 0.8%, civil aviation 0.4% and maritime transport 0.4%.
Ms Dipsy Wechoemang, Chief Director, Human Resources and Medical, Department of Transport, indicated that administration was specifically intended to provide leadership, strategic management and administrative support to the Department. This was achieved through continuous refinement of organisational strategy and structure in line with appropriate legislation and best practice. The administration was also mandated to deal with ways to develop the integrated communications and strategic management. In the 2014/15 financial year, the Administration programme was allocated R382 million, and this was expected to increase to R399 million in 2015/16 and again to R423 million in 2016/17.
The Department had filled 80 posts in the 2014/15 financial year and was planning to increase this to 100 in 2015/16 and 120 in 2016/17.Ms Wechoemang stated that the Department was still largely represented by males (61, 74%) with females only representing 38, 26%.The Department had a vacancy rate of 25.42% and this was expecting to decline as the Department was expecting the introduction of progressive internships that would attract the required skills. The Department also focused on attracting groups that were underrepresented, like coloureds and women.
She noted that the Department was also responsible for transfer payments, and conditional grants to provinces and municipalities. The planning of the budgets included linear divisions, throughout the year, for compensation of employees and goods and services, although this could be adjusted for was specific projects, and budgets for the buildings and fixed structures was also shown linearly throughout the year, but payments due were taken into account.
Mr Mathabatha Mokonyama, Deputy Director-General: Public Transport, Department of Transport, stated that the Department was also focused on accelerating integrated transport systems so as to improve the overall productivity of South Africa. The Integrated Transport Planning programme was set up to manage and facilitate national transport planning, related policies and strategies, and also coordinate regional and inter-sphere relations. In the 2014/15 financial year, the Department was planning to allocate R81 million to Integrated Transport Planning, and this was expected to increase to R84 million in 2015/16 and again to R89 million in 2016/17.The Department also planned to provide economic modelling and analysis of the sector, including the creation of the consolidated transport databank. Integrated transport would also play a critical role in reducing energy consumption in South Africa and addressing other environmental concerns like global warming and air pollution.
Mr Mokonyama stated that there was no doubt that rail transport still played a major role in the economy of South Africa, as the majority of people still used rail as a form of public transport. The rail Transport branch existed to facilitate and coordinate the development of sustainable rail transport policies, rail economic and safety regulation, and infrastructure development strategies. In the 2014/15 financial year, the Department allocated R15 billion to rail transport, and this was predicted to increase in 2015/16 to R18 billion and again in 2016/17 to R19 billion. The Department focused on reducing the cost of public transport and improving the service of Metrorail. It would also monitor and oversee the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) and Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA). He indicated that that the Department needed to accelerate the implementation of integrated rail services through the lowest competent sphere of Government. He was proud that the Department had managed to develop the draft White Paper on the National Rail Transport Policy, which planned to address the major challenges faced by rail transport in South Africa.
Mr Mokonyama said that the Road Transport programme existed to develop and manage an integrated road infrastructure network, and also regulate road transport, ensure safer roads and oversee roads agencies. There was a clear deterioration of the quality of roads in South Africa and he stated that most provinces would benefit from preventative maintenance and government infrastructural development. Effective coordination with provinces and municipalities was therefore needed, to ensure that the Department was not only a conduit of funds to the other spheres of government, but that, more importantly, it played a leading role in monitoring and evaluating the implementation of government programmes. To improve road conditions in South Africa, and in the spirit of cooperative governance, the South African National Road Agency Limited (SANRAL) would provide a critical supporting role in the implementation of the Maintenance Programme. Another portion of the budget, amounting to R21.9 billion would be transferred to State Owned Companies (SOCs) and agencies who were the delivery agents of the Department. The Department was also building the requisite internal capacity in order to enable it to conduct the necessary oversight better over the State Owned Companies and agencies under its remit. Significant progress had been made to align the strategies and annual performance plans of the SOCs with those of the agencies of the Department.
Mr Zakhele Thwala, Deputy Director-General: Civil Aviation, Department of Transport, indicated that the primary purpose of the civil aviation programme was to facilitate the development of an economically viable air transport industry that was safe, secure, efficient and environmentally friendly. The Department also focused on ensuring that civil aviation in South Africa was compliant with international standards. This would be achieved through regulations and investigations and the ability to oversee aviation public entities. The Department had already updated the draft White Paper on the National Civil Aviation Policy and there were on-going consultations with provinces and broad stakeholders to introduce a National Airports Development Plan (NADP). In the 2014/15 financial year the civil aviation programme was allocated a total of R148 million for all its programmes and this was expected to increase to R154 million in 2015/16 and again to R162million in 2016/17.Mr Thwala indicated that the Department was also aware of the fact that civil aviation was still unaffordable to poor people, and therefore, the Department was considering the introduction of low fare airlines, and also improve other debilitated airports. The Department was still proposing to build 4 airports to accelerate the connectivity to other provinces located in the periphery.
Mr Vilane mentioned that primary objective of the Maritime programme was to ensure the development of a safe, reliable and economically viable maritime transport sector, through the development of policies, strategies, monitoring of the implementation plan and oversight of maritime related public entities. He added that the Department was responsible for a number of maritime-related public entities, namely the Ports Regulator (PR) and South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA). There were still six major harbours in South Africa, at Saldanha, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, East London, Durban and Richards Bay, and the Department was planning to improve legislation and policies that would prioritise on the safety and environmental sustainability of these harbours. Mr Vilane stated that the Department had already developed the Green Paper on the Maritime Transport Policy, and had also worked on the development of the Salvage Strategy that would reduce pollution levels at sea. In the 2014/15 financial year, the Maritime Transport programme was allocated a total of R110 million for all its sub-programmes, and this was expected to increase to R115 million in 2015/16 and again to R121 million in 2016/17.
Mr Mokonyama stated that public transport was critical, and there was a need to transform land transport systems by legislation, institutional building, planning and capacitation in the medium term. The Department was mandated to promote the provision of sustainable public transport through the use of safe and compliant vehicles and to develop empowerment systems within the public transport sector. He also added that it was important to improve public transport access and reliability, by facilitating the development of Integrated Public Transport Networks. It must also monitor and evaluate progress.
The Department was also in the process of finalising the National Scholar Transport Policy so as to ensure provision of quality public transport to scholars, especially in rural areas.
Mr Mokonyama added that 13 municipalities had already developed Integrated Public Transport Networks (IPTNs) and 6 IPTNs were already in the construction phase. It was intended that the project should be completed by 2019. In the 2014/15 financial year, the Public Transport programme was allocated R11 billion and this was expected to remain the same in 2015/16, and increase to R12 billion in 2016/17.
Mr M Sibande (ANC) stated that the presentation by the Department failed to mention job creation, especially for young people who lacked experience. He also suggested that the Department needed have permanent employees, especially in the posts of Director General and Deputy Directors General, as this would ensure stability in the Department.
Mr Sibande asked the reason for the slow progress in the taxi recapitalisation, and whether the Department had any strategy to fast-track this process.
Mr Sibande urged that the Department had to ensure that the maritime industry was transformed and become inclusive to the previously disadvantaged groups, and asked if the Department had any strategy or programmes in place to attract competent graduates. He added that the Department needed to introduce policies and legislation to deal with the problems of poaching, transportation of illegal immigrants, piracy and other syndicated crimes that were happening at South Africa’s harbours, airports and borders.
Finally, Mr Sibande mentioned that there was also a need to look further at the issue of expenditure threats, the numerous unfinished bridges, and the possible misuse of public funds.
Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga, Deputy Minister of Transport, indicated that the presentation by the delegates focused on the budget, therefore she could not dwell much on issues of land availability, the e-tolling system and other issues related to entities that were receiving media attention. She responded that the Department still needed a funding model to assist in fixing potholes and in addressing the quality of our roads in South Africa.
Mr Mokonyama said that the issue of taxi recapitalisation was stalled, as 2 752 vehicles were scrapped during the period reviewed.
Mr Mokonyama added that the slow pace of the taxi recapitalisation was partially due to the fact that the majority of South Africans were heavily indebted, including the taxi operators, therefore it became extremely difficult for them to get funding. He repeated that taxi operators chose to keep their old taxis rather than having to go through the process of recapitalisation. The Department needed to look at various ways to accelerate taxi recapitalisation. The Department emphasised that there was a need to accelerate the taxi recapitalisation and safety of the South African passengers remained a priority.
Mr Thwala responded that the Department had comprehensive measures and regulations to deal carefully with the issues of poaching, crime syndicates and illegal immigrants entering the country. He said the Department of Transport was working together with the Department of Home Affairs to improve controls over the people entering and leaving the country.
Mr M De Freitas (DA) made some suggestions as to how the presentation should be given, category by category. He said that the Department also needed to look at the issue of abuse of taxi drivers and owners by traffic police, as there had been complaints lodged. The Department also had to look into the monitoring of the budget for local government, as there was a consistent problem of over-expenditure and misuse of public funds.
Mr De Freitas was pleased that the Department was allocating more resources to rail transport so as to improve public transport in South Africa, and suggested that the Department also needed to consult with the Department of Public Works on the issue of land availability. He added that the only way to curb traffic congestion was the progressive improvement of public transport as proven by countries in Europe and Latin America.
Mr Clement Manyungwana, Acting Deputy-Director General, Department of Transport, confirmed that the Department would consider doing its next presentation in a different way, to that the diagrams and maps were explained to the Committee Members.
He further indicated that the Department had already received a memorandum from the taxi associations and stressed that allegations of abuse and harassment of taxi drivers were matters of concern and needed to be resolved. The Department was already reallocating funds from those municipalities that were under-spending to those who were spending funds on budgeted programmes.
Mr Mokonyama indicated that it was clear that the Department was focused on improving public transport to deal with the issue of traffic congestion.
Mr C Hunsinger (DA) stated that he was also concerned about how the Department monitored the local budget for municipalities. He felt that there was a need to refurbish Metrorail coaches as part of improving public transport. He was concerned that there was an increase in the utilisation of consultancy, and stressed that the Department needed rather to develop its own skills. He also added that the Department needed to develop a freight databank so as to be able to capture information. Whilst he believed that the Department had good policies to improve public transport in South Africa, the issue of implementation of its Integrated Transport Planning was still lagging behind.
Mr Mokonyama responded that indeed the Department was concerned about the utilisation of consultancy, instead of developing skills internally, but he was pleased to say that the utilisation of consultancy had declined in the previous financial year, and was hoping to maintain this in the upcoming financial year.
Mr Vilane said that the target for refurbishment of the coaches for Quarter 3 was 170 coaches, but PRASA was only able to refurbish 97 coaches. He agreed that the current databank was out-dated and therefore the Department was currently updating the databank.
Mr L Ramatlakane (ANC) also asked if there were any programmes to fill the vacancies, as this had the potential to lead to under-expenditure, and also asked if the organogram provided by the Department was still work in progress, or was finalised.
Mr Ramatlakane also requested the Department to provide an update on the taxi recapitalisation and bus subsidy, focusing specifically on the integration of the taxi industry, and the ways to ensure that the introduction of the Integrated Transport Planning like BRT did not lead to exclusion of minibus taxis. In short, the whole taxi industry needed to be considered during the introduction of Integrated Transport Planning.
Mr Ramatlakane further requested the Department to provide an update on the completion of the Moloto Development Corridor. He asked whether the safety policy programmes, such as “Arrive Alive” were informed by a specific policy. He also indicated that the issue of the Lwandle eviction needed to be managed carefully, and urged that the Department consider weather patterns when evicting people, since wintertime was not the ideal season for eviction.
Mr Ramatlakane said the Department also needed to consider affordability and accessibility of civil aviation to the general public.
Mr Vilane responded that the Moloto Development Corridor was still under way. He emphasised that the Department had already conducted strategic visibility of the project and the Department would be launching a project management office with PRASA on 25 July 2014.
Mr Vilane said that the Department had already intervened on the issue of Lwandle evictions, as mentioned by the Deputy Minister earlier. He also responded that the process of taxi recapitalisation planned to address the issue of safety for the passengers, and also ensure that the taxi drivers and owners were able to graduate to bigger industries like aviation, BRT and shipping. He agreed that indeed the Department needed to support low fare airlines, in order to ensure that they survived in a very competitive industry.
Ms D Carter (COPE) indicated that the Department needed to prioritise improving rail infrastructure, as reliable transport was critically important for the growth of tourism also. She added that there was a need to improve the service of the Transport Information Centre (TICs) call centre, as this was also another important factor in attracting the middle and upper class sectors to utilise public transport.
Ms Carter noted that the Mafikeng airport was not functioning and the Department needed to come up with a detailed plan to deal with this problem.
Ms Carter emphasised that the Department needed to deal with the increase in the cost of public transport, especially Gautrain, as poor people were often excluded from these Mass Transit Development initiatives. Finally, she was concerned that the Department had not yet implemented the National Scholar Transport Policy, as children in rural areas were still transported in unroadworthy vehicles, leading to fatal accidents.
Mr Mokonyama responded that the cost of transport was high for other public transport also, not only Gautrain, and that now the government had introduced interventions in the form of grants and subsidies to ensure that the costs of public transport were mimimised. He added that the cost of transport was likely to increase as it became more integrated.
Mr Mokonyama reported that the Department was considering revamping TICs, as he agreed these were important in improving public transport loyalty and lowering operation costs.
Mr Thwala responded that the Department was in a process to resuscitate the Mafikeng airport, as it was without major connectivity, and added that this had a potential to stimulate economic growth in the province.
Ms S Xego-Sovita (ANC) indicated that the Department needed to provide learnerships to those with disability as it was clear that these employees were still under-represented in the Department. She added that the presentation was silent on the plans to deal urgently with the issue of youth unemployment, as this was affecting the entire country. She added that the Department needed to have a permanent Director General and Deputy Director Generals, as these were strategic positions in which consistency was required.
Ms Wechoemang responded that the Department was not as advanced on the learnerships, but internships were effectively implemented, as the Department recently won an award as the Department with highest number of interns. She indicated that there were currently 606 interns in the Department nationwide, and the Department also introduced eight colleges to train students in transport related fields, which was part of the overall plan to address the issue of youth unemployment.
Mr T Mulaudzi (EFF) also indicated that the issue of Lwandle evictions needed to be managed carefully as it had portrayed Government as uncaring, especially towards the poor. He indicated that he was concerned about the state of public transport in South Africa, especially the poor service from Metrorail. He also indicated that he was bothered by the fact that the Department had two senior posts unfilled, with acting staff, as this would affect the continuity. He asked for clarity on the possibility of introducing a single transport economic regulator.
Mr Mulaudzi stated that the Department needed to prioritise the fixing and maintenance of roads as potholes contributed to fatal accidents, especially in provinces like Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape and Limpopo. The Department needed to introduce monitoring and evaluation of the performance of municipalities, to ensure that the budget allocated was utilised effectively. He mentioned that he was pleased that the Department managed to prioritise road safety for 365 days, instead of focusing only on Easter and December holidays. Mr Mulaudzi added that the Department needed to be clear on its strategies to curb drunk driving, especially dealing with the lowering of the alcohol limit for driving.
Ms Chikunga responded that indeed the Department needed to deal with the prevention of cases similar to the Lwandle eviction, and emphasised that the Department managed to move quickly and intervene in respect of the Lwandle eviction.
Ms Chikunga said that the largest chunk of the budget was allocated to public transport, including Passenger Railway Agency of South Africa (PRASA) to improve the service of Metrorail. The Department already had embarked on a plan to fix potholes as this was a national concern.
Ms Chikunga confirmed that the Department was in a process of appointing a permanent Director General and Deputy Director General, and mentioned that Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) had already led by example and appointed a permanent Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and other staff.
She reiterated that indeed road safety needed to be encouraged for 365 days and this ensured safety of other road users. She indicated that road fatalities in South Africa were caused by a number of human factors, like drunk driving, speeding, driving unroadworthy vehicles and reckless driving. She responded that it was of concern that drunk driving was still a major contributor to road fatalities, and indicated that the Department needed to review the current alcohol limits for driving.
Mr Mokonyama noted that the Department was monitoring the transfers to the municipalities but admitted that there were pitfalls involved in that monitoring tool. He explained that the intention of the single transport regulator was to consolidate and integrate existing regulators within the transport sector, but this also planned to deal with the issue of radical economic transformation, by enabling previously disadvantaged groups with the ability to access the market.
Ms E Masehela (ANC) also added that the standard of roads in rural areas was appalling and urged the Department to come up with a strategy to deal with potholes. She also was concerned that the Department needed to finalise the National Scholar Transport Policy urgently, as the safety of the learners needed to be prioritised.
Mr Vilane responded that the Department was already in the finalisation stage of the National Scholar Transport Policy, and confirmed that the mandate of the Department was to improve road conditions in South Africa, especially in rural areas.
Mr G Radebe (ANC) indicated that he was concerned that the issue of E-tolls was not raised by the Department, as it was currently a burning issue. He also stated that he was concerned that the Department’s vision and mission did not mention anything about affordability, as efficient transport had the potential to lead to more affordability for other people. He also added that it was of concern that low fare airlines tended to run in liquidity problems, and suggested that the Department needed to come up with a comprehensive strategy to deal with this problem.
Ms Chikunga responded that the Portfolio Committee on Transport would be the first to know on the progress and the implementation of the E-toll, but at the moment it was enforced by legislation.
Mr Sibande urged the Department to give the Committee Members as much information as possible so the Members would be updated about proposed policies and legislation, and all issues related to the Department. He also added that although the Department needed to prioritise on National Scholar Transport Policy, there was also a need to focus on addressing the use of tractors as public transport in rural areas, as this was unsafe and likely to lead to road fatalities.
Mr Sibande also asked that the Department must update the Committee on the issue of cross-border transport between South Africa and Lesotho, as the current situation allowed illegal immigrants to enter the country.
Mr Sibande felt that the Department needed to empower potential black pilots, as white people were still over-represented in the civil aviation field. Finally, Mr Sibande requested the Department to offer further explanations on the issues of energy consumption and transport, especially in a South African context, and urged the introduction of stringent measures to deal with cable theft in the country, as this was affecting the movement of rail transport.
Mr Vilane agreed that the Department was facing a massive challenge in dealing with Lesotho and cross-border issues and indicated that he and the Minister had visited Lesotho three weeks earlier, to deal with this issue. He confirmed that since transport was the second biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in the country, and globally, it was indeed the responsibility of the Department to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Mr Vilane conceded that the Department needed to criminalise cable theft, as this was affecting productivity in South Africa and causing major inconvenience to the passengers. He added that the Department had identified 110 schools that would be part of the aviation transformation, and this was to deal with the present under-representation of black pilots.
Mr Ramatlakane mentioned that the Department should have a plan to prevent maladministration and misuse of public funds at the municipal level. He felt that the reallocation of funds to other municipalities was not a sustainable strategy to deal with under-expenditure. He requested the Department to provide its time-frame for filling vacant posts. He disagreed with Mr Radebe’s statement and felt that affordability and efficiency were two sides of the same coin, as a transport mode could be affordable to the general public, but not necessarily efficient.
Mr Vilane agreed with Mr Ramatlakane that indeed affordability and efficiency were totally different concepts. Efficiency was dealing with market failure, while affordability had more to do with accessibility.
The Chairperson indicated that she was pleased that the Deputy Minister managed to spend the whole day at the Committee meeting, which showed that the Department was serious about its work and beginning to fully realise the purpose of the Portfolio Committee meetings. She added that she was pleased that the Members managed to interrogate the Department’s delegation on a number of issues that required clarity, explanation and confirmation.
The Chairperson welcomed the Minister’s statement about three pieces of legislation coming through, and indicated that the Members needed to be given adequate time to ensure that those legislations and policies could be processed through the necessary channels of Parliament. The Chairperson stated that it was also evident that there were several policies that had been formulated in the past but which needed to be reviewed.
The Chairperson expected Members to speak more about greening and the green economy, but was hopeful that next time Members would focus on these key themes, especially dealing with issues of air pollution, environmental degradation and global warming.
The Chairperson urged the Department to fast-track the Scholar Transport Policy as this would ensure safety of the learners. Finally, she reiterated that Members were concerned that there was an urgent need to fill the senior posts.
The meeting was adjourned.
- We don't have attendance info for this committee meeting
Download as PDF
You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.
See detailed instructions for your browser here.