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TRANSPORT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
23 October 2002
PALMER DEVELOPMENT GROUP ON NATIONAL TRANSPORT TRANSITION ACT
Chairperson: Mr. J Cronin
Documents Handed Out:
Report of Transport Portfolio Committee into hearings and oversight work on the implementation of the National Land Transport Transitional Act 2000 (See Appendix)
Draft Report of Committee on Palmer Development Study
National Land and Transition Transport Act 2000
The Committee formally considered the suggested draft report on Palmer Development. The Palmer Development Group(PDG) was commissioned to draft a report on the progressive implementation of the NLTTA. Discussion focused on the registration of operating licences for public sector transport.
Further, the committee discussed the transportation of commuters in rural areas, planning frequencies and subsidies allocated to all modes of public transport. The taxi recapitalisation strategy featured prominently and proved the most controversial during the deliberations of the committee. The amended version of the report will be forwarded to the National Assembly as well as NCOP for comment.
Mr. Slabbert(IFP) was concerned about the registration of operating licences for metered taxis. This concern arouse from the discrepancies in fares charged by different metered taxis.
Mr. Cronin(ANC) explained that metered taxis were part of the broad sector of public transport and yet were left out of the NLTTA. The discrepancies in taxi fares between different meter taxis was part of the problem within public sector transport. However, the meter taxis was a special issue which needed another forum for discussion.
Ms. Mnumzana(ANC) was concerned at the omission of transportation of commuters in rural areas. Moreover the operating licences for the farmer needed to be considered as it impacted on the welfare of rural commuters.
Mr. Cronin acknowledged that this omission resulted from oversight on his part during the drafting of the report. In addition, he accepted that provincial structures and farmers be engaged in an attempt to find common approach to this problem.
Mr. Farrow(DP) felt that the report failed to adequately reflect on law enforcement in terms of the NLLTA. Subsequently the committee accepted his suggestion and inserted another paragraph in regard to law enforcement.
Mr. Magubane(ANC) requested clarity on the different between Municipal-B and Municipal-C.
Ms. Mnumzana explained that Municipal-B denoted mayoral executive powers whereas the Municipal-C is usually not endowed with such powers. The former represented the metros while the latter represented the sub-district municipalities. The distinction was clearly set out in the Municipal Structures Act, 2000.
Ms. Shilubana(ANC) was concerned about the discrepancies in the fares charged on commuters by different bus companies operating on the same route. This was hitting hard on the poor commuters and needed to be investigated.. The chair replied that the problem was a direct result of lack of strict monitoring for Bus industry as highlighted in the PDG report. Therefore a proper monitoring system was a necessary measure to remedy this problem.
Mr. Slabbert(IFP) expressed his concern over lack of progress on the taxi recapitalisation process. And lack of feedback on the problems and progress on the recap issue. Mr. Cronin said that he also shared similar view regarding lack of process on the taxi recap strategy. It was necessary to understand the cause of the blockages towards the roll out of the recap strategy. He explained that Electronic Management System (EMS) was major cause of delay. It seemed that the pricing of the vehicles intended to replace the minibus taxis constituted another stumbling block.
SANTACO held the view that EMS was a management tool for taxi operators and could not be dictated by the government. However, Treasury and Department of Trade & Industry were uncertain of handing over the management of huge capital to the taxi industry. The Treasury and DTI wanted the major banks of South Africa to handle the EMS on behalf of taxi operators. He also indicated that the Minister of Transport, Mr Dullah Omar would be invited to brief the committee on progress in this regard. The chair also accepted that DTI and the Department of Transport would be invited to brief the committee prior to the roll out of the taxi recap strategy.
The meeting was adjourned.
Second Draft 23 October 2002)
Report of Transport Portfolio Committee into hearings and oversight work on the implementation of the National Land Transport Transitional Act (2000)
1.The National Land Transport Transitional Act of 2000
After several years of refinement, Parliament passed the National Land Transport Transitional Act (NLTTA) in 2000, and the National Department of Transport (NDoT) began to operationalise the Act from December 2000. The Act seeks to establish a coherent, developmentally-oriented approach to road public transport, drawing in all three spheres of government. A central feature of the Act is that it requires municipal and provincial-level transport planning to be the basis on which any future public transport operating licences are awarded.
The legacy of confusion and relative anarchy in public transport in South African towns and cities is partly attributable to the fact that, historically, permits to operate public transport frequently had little connection whatsoever to any coherent planning. This resulted in many anomalies.
Incomplete information available to the Portfolio Committee strongly suggested that many difficulties were being encountered in the implementation of the NLTTA. The Portfolio Committee accordingly commissioned a research report and, in August and September 2002, held a series of public hearings based on the findings of this research report.
2. Research Report and Public Hearings
The commissioned Research Report, "Key issues emerging from background research on the progressive implementation of transport planning in terms of the National Land Transport Transitional Act (2000)", was tabled and discussed by the Committee in August 2002. The Report was based on research conducted in three case-study areas, Cape Town, eThekwini and the Amatole District.
The Report was distributed to key stake-holders and a series of parliamentary public hearings was conducted. Those making presentations to the hearings included the South African Bus Owners Association, the South African Commuters Organisation, the South African National Taxi Council, the South African Local Government Association, the Director of Traffic and Transportation in the eThekwini Municipality, and the National Department of Transport.
3. Proposals and Recommendations of the Committee
The Committee believes that improvements need to be made in regard to a number of areas.
3.1 Registration and operating licences for public transport
The implementation of the NLTTA in regard to registration and operating licences is being impeded by, amongst other things:
- Incompatible information systems;
- Uncertainty regarding procedures and timing of the issuing of permits and operating licences, the role of Registrars, and succession rights in respect of operating licences;
- Lack of national uniformity in regard to route descriptions; and
- Provisions made for metered taxis and tourism services are inadequate within the NLTTA.
In regard to these issues, the Committee proposes:
- To review progress in early 2003 in the development of a single National Transport Register with all relevant institutions having compatible systems;
- That the NDoT should provide for forums for operating licence boards, Registrars, and relevant stake-holders to agree on common policies and procedures;
- To review progress in 2003 in the preparation, by the NDoT, of guidelines regarding route descriptions;
- Legislative amendments should be made to the NLTTA to provide for metered taxis and tourism services.
3.2 Transport Planning
Transport planning, as envisaged by the NLTTA, is being impeded by:
- A lack of an appropriate financial framework in general, and, specifically, insufficient funding to meet statutory planning requirements;
- The envisaged planning frequency is too high;
- There are cases in which there is a lack of clarity as to whether B or C municipalities should be the designated planning authority;
- Enforcement is not adequately addressed in the NLTTA.
In regard to these issues, the Committee proposes:
- In the first half of 2003 the NDoT should report to Parliament on progress made in the development of a comprehensive funding strategy for transport planning, and specifically on the use of funds already transferred to provincial authorities for this purpose;
- A legislative amendment should be made to the NLTTA to extend the planning cycle to a more reasonable length;
- The NDoT should facilitate workshops and other capacity building processes to ensure that there is clarity as to whether a B or C municipality should be the designated planning authority, with the understanding that this may vary from specific case to case.
- Legislative amendments to the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act (1998) providing for more effective transport law enforcement.
3.3 Transport Authorities
The Committee received submissions that indicated a number of concerns about the establishment and functioning of Transport Authorities (TAs) as envisaged in the NLTTA. In regard to issues raised, the Committee proposes:
- That the funding of TAs be addressed in the funding strategy proposed in 3.2 above;
- That a legislative amendment to the NLTTA should be made to provide for a statutory definition of "municipal public transport" as it appears in Schedule 4B of the Constitution of the RSA.
3.4 Restructuring of the Bus Industry
The Committee received submissions, including from the NDoT, that indicated there has been a shortfall in the bus subsidy budget in the previous financial year, and again in the current financial year.
The Committee recommends that the overall approach to subsidies for public transport needs to be reviewed to ensure three major outcomes are achieved:
- Benefits to the commuter are prioritised;
- Subsidies address all modes of public transport;
- There are adequate levels of subsidy to meet the requirements of all modes.
The Committee also established that while there is comprehensive monitoring of tendered and negotiated bus contracts, interim contracts, representing 55 percent of the total subsidy budget, are not currently monitored. Capacity-building, in this regard, needs to be addressed.
The Committee also heard that historically disadvantaged individuals remain disadvantaged in the bus industry. Steps must be undertaken to redress this problem.
The Committee recommends that the NDoT report to Parliament on progress towards resolving these problems by March 2003.
3.5 Regulated Taxi Industry
The Committee received submissions indicating that the proposed taxi re-capitalisation programme, while in an advanced stage of preparation, has still to be implemented. There are many frustrations and uncertainties as a result of delays in the process.
The Committee also heard that there is a lack of adequate transport law enforcement, which particularly relates to the regulation of the taxi industry.
The South African National Taxi Council expressed concern at limited progress made by the Transport Training and Education Authority (TETA) in regard to capacity building in the taxi industry.
In regard to these issues, the Portfolio Committee:
- Will closely monitor progress made in the taxi recapitalisation process;
- Recommends, as in 3.2 above, legislative amendments to the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act (1998) to provide more effectively for transport law enforcement;
- Will monitor the work of TETA.
- The effective spread to all transport modes of transport subsidies, as recommended in 3.4 above.
3.6 Rural transport
The Committee also heard that there are many challenges facing rural public transport, including the transport of farm-workers. The Committee proposes that the NDoT should take up this issue with provincial departments through the MinCom structure.
3.7 Rail transport
The NLTTA has been explicitly cast as a "transitional" Act, partly because a key component of land transport, namely rail transport, has yet to be included within the framework of national land transport legislation. In this regard, the Committee recommends that the NDoT tables its Rail Transport Policy and Rail Strategic Plan in Parliament in the first half of 2003, with a view, amongst other things, to taking forward the extension of land transport legislation to embrace rail transport.
4. General findings and conclusions
The Portfolio Committee believes that the NLTTA represents a major advance in terms of ensuring a more effective and coherent approach to land transport. However, the implementation of this land-mark legislation presents many challenges. Prime among these challenges is the need for a coherent and effective funding strategy, better integration of different transport modes, and a major focus on capacity-building in order, amongst other things, to ensure more compatible practices and better communication across different spheres of government and among other key stake-holders. We believe that the NDoT has a prime responsibility in regard to all of these challenges.
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