The Department of Transport (DoT) briefed the Committee on its Strategic and Annual Performance Plans (APP) 2015/16. The Minister said the Road Infrastructure Network had the potential to unlock the economic potential in South Africa, particularly in rural areas. The National Transport Master Plan 2050 (NATMAP) was part of the key areas of service delivery in the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) as it aimed to integrate transport systems. The Minster also highlighted that the strategic plan 2015/16 – 2019/20 and Annual Performance Plan (APP) 2015/16 were guided by the National Development Plan (NDP) 2030, the New Growth Path (NGP) Framework, the Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) and the National Infrastructure Plan (NIP).
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. The Integrated Transport Planning programme managed and facilitated national transport planning, related policies and strategies and coordinated regional and inter-sphere relations. Objectives for each of the programmes were noted. The Maritime programme included submission of the White Paper on Maritime Transport Policy to Parliament and the Cabotage Policy for Coastal, Regional and Continental Waters to Cabinet. Public transport was critical and 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. The Department was in the process of finalising the National Learner Transport Policy (NLTP) and the Taxi Recapitalisation was being reviewed. The Department developed the White Paper on the National Railway Policy, which planned to address the major challenges faced by rail transport in South Africa.
The DoT vacancy rate was expected to decline from 23.34% (201 vacant posts) to 10% (86 vacant posts) as the Department expected the Human Resource Development Framework would attract the required skills. The Department prioritised 4 outcomes being Outcome 4: Decent employment through inclusive growth, Outcome 6: An efficient, competitive and responsive economic infrastructure, Outcome 7: Comprehensive rural development and land reform, and Outcome 10: Protect and enhance environmental assets and natural resources. Transfers and subsidies to public entities, provinces and municipalities remains the largest expenditure item in the DoT’s budget. In 2014/15, at R47.8 billion, transfers and subsidies constituted 96.7% of adjusted appropriation allocation and are projected to increase at an average annual rate of 6.8% to reach R51.1 billion in 2017/18. The Cabinet-approved reductions will also be effected over the medium term.
Members raised concerns around lack of a comprehensive strategy to increase access to quality infrastructure and functional services, particularly in education, healthcare and public transport in rural areas as most of infrastructure development programmes focused in urban areas. Members expressed disappointment that the Department had been reviewing a lot of policies such as the White Paper, 1996 and National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP) and asked whether there was a strategy in place to pick up key issues from those policies and be able to implement them instead of starting from scratch. What had been the main cause of delays in the implementation of the Singe Transport Economic Regulator (STER)? Members were not happy about the apparent disconnection between strategic objectives and quarterly targets. The Board had been making it very difficult for the Minister to be able to execute the existing policies because of the never-ending process of reviewing legislations and policies.
A Member highlighted that the Department paid little attention to the reality of budget reduction in the strategic planning and annual targets. It was alarming that there would be a total of 48% reduction between public transport operation grants and public transport network grants. The NLTP needed to be expedited so as to improve the quality of vehicles that are transporting learners to be safe and secured. The recent passing away of Minister of Public Service and Administration, Mr Collins Chabane who died in a car accident particularly highlighted the importance of road safety. How would the Department enhance performance, efficiency and reliability of rail with the current tug-of-war between Passenger Railway Agency of South Africa (PRASA) and Transnet?
The Chairperson expressed sadness that the country had just lost the Minster of Public Service and Administration, Mr Collins Chabane, through road carnage, which further illustrated the need to prioritise on road safety. The Minister of Transport, Ms Dipou Peters was attending another meeting but promised to join the Committee at a later stage.
Briefing by the Department of Transport (DoT)
Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga, Deputy Minister, DoT, said the President declared the year 2015 as the year where the country will be celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Freedom Charter, the imprints of which are found in the Constitution of South Africa. The country was witnessing the implementation of the pillars of the Freedom Charter as the people of South Africa are governing through structures such as Parliament that represents the core interest of the people by their oversight constitutional mandate. The DoT takes the work of the Committee very seriously as it ensured accountability on behalf of the people in the country. The President had emphasised that the people of the country need to share the country’s wealth and the DoT was mandated to develop and implement policies, legislations and programmes and projects that would bring about radical economic transformation.
Ms Chikunga highlighted that the Department was fully aware that in order to achieve radical economic transformation it would need to change the current and persistent structural architecture of the economy. This included changing ownership patterns and required institutional realignment that would dismantle the legacy of colonialism, address spatial inequality and promote industrialisation. Participation of the private sector contributes to inclusive growth, investment and social development and economic transformation. The DoT was also aware of the need to develop local procurement to increase domestic production and create decent employment, including purchasing of goods and services and support of small enterprises, cooperatives and Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE). There was a plan to fast track the rollout of economic and infrastructure programmes in the different transport sub-sectors such as public transport to realise the economic opportunities and employment of women, youth and those with disabilities.
The Department managed to identity the legislative interventions that are required to facilitate and assist State-Owned Entities (SOEs) as instruments for economic transformation and part of the greater strategy of state intervention to address the imbalances of the past. The targets of the Department are well aligned to the 14 Priority Outcomes of government over the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF). This was the first meeting with the Committee where the Department would be delivering the strategic planning for the next five years.
Mr Mawethu Vilana, DDG: Integrated Transport Planning, DoT, said the strategic plan 2015/16 – 2019/20 and Annual Performance Plan (APP) 2015/16 were guided by the National Development Plan (NDP) 2030, the New Growth Path (NGP) Framework, the Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) and the National Infrastructure Plan (NIP). The African Union Agenda 2063 vision of “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena” will also drive the DoT efforts of enhancing regional and continental integration. The DoT will also support the “back-to-basics” call made by Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) to strengthen and enhance performance of local government. Policy initiatives over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) included the reviewing of the White Paper on the National Transport Policy, finalisation of the White Paper on the National Railway Policy and the development of the White Paper on the Roads Policy. The Department also still needed to finalise the National Civil Aviation Policy, the White Paper on the National Maritime Policy and the National Learner Transport Policy (NLTP). The development of the Cabotage Policy for Coastal, Regional and Continental Waters was still underway.
The DoT exists to ensure the provision of safe, reliable, effective, efficient, affordable and integrated transport services that best meet the needs of passenger and freight users. Major challenges facing the transport sector in meeting its mandate included infrastructural development and maintenance, and strategic expansion of its network. The most common problems in the sector were the rate of deterioration of existing infrastructure and inadequate capital investment to meet required maintenance and expansion. Government investment on infrastructure (manufacture of buses) over the MTSF 2014 – 2019 was R847 billion and R50 billion on Transnet locomotive contract and PRASA passenger rail projects.
The MTSF 2014 – 2019 was approved July 2014 as a comprehensive implementation plan of NDP and ruling party manifesto, and the Minister’s delivery agreement to implement transport related issues in the MTSF. The Department focused on 4 outcomes being Outcome 4: Decent employment through inclusive growth, Outcome 6: An efficient, competitive and responsive economic infrastructure, Outcome 7: Comprehensive rural development and land reform and Outcome 10: Protect and enhance environmental assets and natural resources.
The sub-outcome 1 in Outcome 4 focused on ensuring that productive investment is effectively crowded in through the infrastructure build programme and monitoring of off-takes by the end users on the infrastructure programme. The sub-outcome 1 in Outcome 6 focused on improving regulation, funding and investment and establishment of a Single Transport Economic Regulator (STER) by December 2016. It also paid particular focus on developing a Private Sector Participation Framework for ports and freight rail, removing barriers to entry for private investment and operations within the context of Cabinet-approved policy and with an analysis of the implication of tariffs. Sub-outcome 3 for Outcome 6 prioritised maintenance, strategic expansion, operational efficiency, capacity and competitiveness of logistics and transport infrastructure. Improving and preserving national, provincial and local road infrastructure, strengthening road traffic management and developing and approving the Integrated Transport Plan by June 2016, could do this.
Sub-outcome 6 in Outcome 6 concentrated on the coordination, planning, integration and monitoring implementation of strategic integrated projects in the NIP. Programmes included the Moloto Rail Corridor by PRASA and N1 Ermelo to Hendrina full rehabilitation project by South African National Road Agency Limited (SANRAL). Sub-outcome 7 in Outcome 7 focused on increasing access to quality infrastructure and functional services, particularly in education, healthcare and public transport in rural areas. This was by improving transport infrastructure and public transport in rural areas and implementation of the Road Development Plan for improving rural road infrastructure. Sub-outcome 2 in Outcome 10 prioritised developing effective climate change mitigation and adaptation response. The Green Transport Strategy and Implementation Plan formulated would be completed by March 2018.
Mr Vilana took the Committee through key areas of service delivery in the MTSF and these included:
- Private Sector Participation Framework
- National Transport Master Plan (NATMAP 2050)
- Transport Infrastructure Build Interventions
- Integrated Transport Networks
- Provincial Road Maintenance Programme (PRMG)
- PRASA Capital Expenditure Programme
- Harrismith Hub
- Adjudication of Administrative Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) Amendment Act
- National Railway Safety Regulator Amendment Act
- National Railway Safety Strategy
- Civil Aviation Amendment Act and Regulations
- Merchant Shipping Act
- Creation of 6 million work opportunities targeting women, youth and people with disabilities
Internal challenges of structural alignment and allocation of resources (human, financial, facilities and equipment) will be continually optimised to ensure economic, efficient and effective performance and improvement of service delivery. Reduction of the vacancy rate and strengthening of knowledge and information systems will be priorities for the medium term. The simplified organisation structure of the DoT puts emphasis on modes of transport and complementing this modal emphasis are two crosscutting programmes that seek to provide strategic administrative and technical support – Administration and Integrated Transport Planning. The Department had 7 programmes, which included Administration (1) Integrated Transport Planning (2) Rail Transport (3) and Road Transport (4) Civil Aviation (5) and Maritime Transport (6) and Public Transport (7).
Strategic goal 1 focused on ensuring that there was an efficient and integrated infrastructure network that serves as a catalyst for social and economic development and strategic goal 2 prioritised on providing a transport sector that was safe and secure. Strategic goal 3 paid more attention to improving rural access, infrastructure and mobility, and strategic goal 4 was on improving public transport services. Strategic objective 5 concentrated on increasing contribution to job creation, and strategic goal 6 was on increasing contribution to transport environmental protection. Strategic goal 7 was to ensure that there was effective and efficient management and support within the Department.
Mr Vilana continued that the planned initiatives over the MTSF and MTEF showed that on Administration the Department planned to implement the Integrated Communications and Marketing Plan so as to provide strategic support and corporate services. The DoT planned to reduce the vacancy rate from 23, 34% (201 vacant posts) to 10% (86 vacant posts), meaning 115 vacant posts needed to be filled. Implementation of the Human Resource Development Framework will ensure that 30 interns are selected and placed in line with the HRD Framework. The DoT planned to submit the final draft of the NATMAP 2050 to Parliament and monitor implementation so as to facilitate integrated Macro-transport systems planning to guide investments in the sector. The Department also planned to submit the STER Bill to Parliament and establish the STER in the country.
Rail transport remained critical to the majority of South Africans and the Department planned to submit the National Railway Bill to Parliament and develop the National Railway Strategy in order to enhance performance, efficiency and reliability of the transport sector. Road transport was also instrumental for the development of any country and the Department planned to submit the White Paper on the Road Transport Policy to Cabinet and submit the AARTO Amendment Bill to Parliament and rollout implementation. This is to ensure a sustainable transport infrastructure network and regulate and enhance transport safety and security. Under maritime transport, the Department planned to submit the Draft Merchant Shipping Bill (2016) to Parliament in order to regulate and enhance transport safety and security. The discussion paper on the Merchant Shipping Bill (2016) will be submitted to the Executive Council (EXCO) for approval.
In terms of public transport, the Department would submit the Rural Transport Strategy to Cabinet and also submit the Taxi Recapitalisation Programme Review Report to Cabinet so as to provide integrated rural transport infrastructure and service and promote sustainable public transport. Under civil aviation, the DoT will submit the Civil Aviation Amendment Bill to Parliament and the regulations on the phasing out of the Chapter 2 Aircraft to the Minister for approval so as to regulate and enhance transport safety and security and minimise aviation noise.
Mr Vilana emphasised that in the medium term, key resource considerations will be towards maintenance of road infrastructure, upgrading of rail infrastructure and services and enhancing public transport and the establishment of the STER. Transfers and subsidies to public entities, provinces and municipalities remains the largest expenditure item in the DoT’s budget. In 2014/15, at R47.8 billion, transfers and subsidies constituted 96.7% of adjusted appropriation allocation and this is projected to increase at an average annual rate of 6.8% to reach R51.1 billion in 2017/18. Cabinet-approved reductions will also be effected over the medium term (Page 60 of the DoT Strategic Plan 2015/16 – 2019/20).
The DoT commits to a risk management process that ensures that all strategic and operational risks to its business strategy are identified and assessed. Response plans will be developed and implemented for each risk, and monitored on a quarterly basis. Effectiveness of the risk management and control measures put in place will be reported to the Risk Management Committee, EXCO and the Audit Committee on a quarterly basis. The Internal Audit will also conduct periodic independent assessments on the effectiveness of risk management.
The long-term infrastructure and other plans of the Department involved the Moloto Rail Development Corridor between Mthambothini (Siyabuswa) in Mpumalanga and Tshwane with feeder services to and from stations. There are also traffic-induced and safety-related road upgrades in rural villages along the R573 Moloto Road. The estimated project cost is R18.9 billion on capital expenditure, and R1.6 billion on land acquisition. The Durban Dug-Out Port Development is the expansion of the container-handling capacity at the Durban Port to enhance logistics of doing business in SA by improving rail and port connections. The Project is linked to SIP 2: Durban-Free State-Gauteng Logistics and Industrial Corridor. The estimated cost of the project is between R75 – R100 billion.
Mr G Radebe (ANC) indicated that the Department had already signed a Copenhagen agreement to comply with protecting and enhancing the country’s environmental and natural resources hence there was an introduction of carbon tax. He asked for clarity on the legislation that had been operating under carbon tax, as sub-outcome 2 (Green Transport Strategy) would only be implemented in 2018. It was concerning that there had been delays on the alignment of carbon tax and the adjustment of the petroleum legislation law. There had been lack of a comprehensive strategy to increase access to quality infrastructure and functional services, particularly in education, healthcare and public transport in rural areas as most of infrastructure development focused on urban areas. He acknowledged that there had been improvements in some rural areas like Nkandla and this needed to be expanded to other rural areas.
Ms P Boshielo (ANC) expressed disappointment that the Department had been reviewing a lot of policies like the White Paper, 1996 and National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP), and asked whether there was a strategy in place to pick up key issues from those policies and implement them instead of starting from scratch. The Department had capable people who could analyse and review existing policies so as to be in line with government’s trajectory instead of utilising costly consultancy. Reviewing of policies also delayed the process of consulting with Cabinet, the Committee and ultimately the service delivery. The Department had good policies. NATMAP 2050 should have been informing the National Development Plan (NDP) but again the main problem had been on the implementation of those policies.
Ms Boshielo urged the Department to implement these policies and learn from possible mistakes instead of spending more time reviewing policies without any meaningful progress. There is a need to update the National Travel Household Survey with relevant information, as it was still important to monitor the travelling behaviour of commuters. The Department should prioritise on the implementation of policies instead of resuscitating old ones, as this was a costly exercise. Why did the Department want to do away with the Public Transport Strategy, it was a good document that led to the implementation of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).
Ms Boshielo suggested that in future the Department should avoid the implementation of policies in phases as it led to further delays. The STER was to consolidate and integrate existing regulators within the space of transport, but this also planned to deal with the issue of radical economic transformation, by enabling previously disadvantaged groups to access the market. What had been the main cause of delays in the implementation of STER? She asked whether there was any particular reason for only mentioning the Harrismith hub of logistics as there were many other freight and logistic corridors in most provinces. The Department should deal with how to regulate and manage freight and logistic corridors as provinces had been struggling to make these corridors economically viable.
Ms Boshielo encouraged the Department to focus specifically on the implementation of policies as the Rural Transport Strategy had been done, reviewed and monitored but the main problem was still implementation. The country could not afford to wait for another two years for the implementation of the National Learner Transport Policy (NLTP) as learners continued to be transported in unsafe and unroadworthy vehicles such as bakkies. It seemed like the Department had been helpless in assisting poor children who continued to die on our roads because of lack of regulation on the standard of a vehicle to transport children. The aim to create 6 million job opportunities over 5 years seemed to be unrealistic as the country as a whole had been struggling to create 5 million jobs. It would be better that the Department reduce those figure and overachieve than set unrealistic targets. The organogram of the Department did not seem to coordinate with the strategic objectives and she wondered whether there was a way to integrate different modes of transport.
Ms D Carter (COPE) reiterated that the problem was on implementation of the policies and also opposed the constant reviewing of some policies, as this was just the “reinvention of the wheel”. It was disappointing that there had been little improvement in road infrastructure in the Free State compared to other provinces. Was there a strategy in place to ensure that road infrastructure was spread to other provinces? She disagreed with the assertion that rail and road could not compete and emphasised that rail was the solution to reduce traffic volume and remove heavy trucks off the road as they were dangerous to road users. The prioritisation on passenger rail was good but there was a need to also focus on rail to transport agricultural products to emerging farmers, as they are often located in the periphery where there is no rail infrastructure.
Ms Carter asked if there was a way to revitalise passenger rail between Durban and Cape Town and other provinces as the main route had been centralised between Johannesburg and Cape Town. The Department should move to the stage of the implementation of the NLTP, as it was horrific to read in the newspapers about learners who were still transported in bakkies and risking children’s lives. The service provided by Metrorail is a nightmare as trains are constantly delayed or breaking-down, meaning people cannot get to work on time and some people had lost their jobs because of these major delays. The absenteeism rate in South Africa was one the highest in the world (up to 19%) while countries like China had an absenteeism rate of 0.01% and this was all related to major delays in Metrorail trains.
Mr M De Freitas (DA) asked whether any research was done on how to reduce road carnage in the country. It was impossible to meaningfully reduce fatalities and improve road safety without accurate statistics on road fatalities. Accurate statistics would assist the Department in targeting the “hotspots” for the deployment of traffic officers to improve road compliance. The Road Traffic Management Act (RTMC) should get a proper system of recording statistics on road fatalities so as to pick up the trends on where there were so many road crashes. He asked for further details on the Private Sector Participation Framework (PSPF) for ports, freight and rail and how the country would benefit from this partnership between private and public sector. What was the time frame for the implementation of PSPF?
Mr De Freitas expressed disappointment that the Department seemed to be mesmerised and fascinated by road transport instead of rail, as rail was safer, sustainable to the environment and could potentially reduce the scourge of road fatalities in the country. The most successful countries in the world prioritised on railway as the most efficient mode of transport and there is not even a requirement to own a car. Railway had the potential to accommodate a number of people including learners and those located in remote rural areas. There is a need to balance the service between rural and urban areas, as it was clear that most of the infrastructure were focused on urban areas. It would be difficult for the Department to reprioritise on rail while there were still on-going disputes between PRASA and Transnet.
Mr De Freitas also supported the call to transport goods by rail as it would reduce the number of heavy trucks on the road, which would improve the quality of roads and save taxpayer money used for constant road maintenance. It was unrealistic for the Department to expect any meaningful reduction in road fatalities without having accurate statistics. It was impossible to improve road safety by stopping vehicles and checking people’s licences, as this was only a small aspect of the bigger problem.
Mr C Hunsinger (DA) said the Department paid little attention to the reality of budget reduction in the strategic planning and annual targets. It was alarming that there was a total of 48% reduction between public transport operation grants and public transport network grants. It was clear that the Department was raising expectations on one side yet the reality showed that there would be a reduction in budget allocation. The presentation showed that there would be a total reduction of 83% in budget between the road maintenance grant, transport operation grant and transport network grant and it is crucial important for strategic goals to be aligned to this reality.
Mr T Mulaudzi (EFF) asked the Department to move speedily in developing a plan to transfer road freight to rail as heavy trucks had been damaging our roads. He asked the Department to provide the percentage of district municipalities to implement the Integrated Public Transport Network Strategy. The Department had been particularly silent on the role of Small Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) and Cooperatives in the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) that could also assist in the realisation of 6 million jobs opportunities.
Mr M Sibande (ANC) suggested that the strategic plan should also include the concerns of by the Auditor-General (AG). Most of the programmes of the Department concentrated in urban areas and this needs to change, as infrastructure was more needed in rural areas. He would like the Department to assist in improving the very old and dangerous bridge in Msinga District in KZN as it was unstable and could result in loss of life. What was the progress on the Moloto Corridor? Was the Moloto Corridor included in the current budget?
Mr Sibande wanted to place on record that the Committee would not support any infrastructural development where the community members had not been consulted. He condemned the possible forced removal of people in Plumstead and Wynberg to make way for the BRT system as the community members confirmed that they had not been consulted on the issue. One of the Department’s entities complained that there were still challenges in the registration of ships. How far was the Department on the issue? The Department had also been quiet on the issue of private airports and wondered whether there had been any policy to manage these airports. Government policies had been designed to minimise monopolies, hence there were programmes of Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) as most big companies wanted to control everything.
Mr Sibande mentioned that he had been touched by the story of people in the Northern Cape who had been surviving through the railway line that created jobs. However, it was disappointing these people had been neglected, as the matter had not been included in the long-term strategic plan. He once again encouraged the Department to change its approach and diversify its programmes to all provinces.
The Chairperson highlighted the importance of Research and Development (R&D) in developing products in moving the economy of South Africa forward. It is commendable that PRASA and Transnet had been doing very well in terms of developing local locomotives and the previous presentation by ArcellorMittal spoke to the issue of developing local skills to utilise raw materials in the country instead of importing products. The Department should start working towards the development of SOE unit and the Development Finance Institutions (DFIs). The manifesto of the Ruling party made it very clear that within 5 years; the country should be able to remove freight off the road as it placed a huge burden on road users. Infrastructure needed to be dedicated to rural areas as this is where there is a backlog.
The Chairperson highlighted that the Department needed to expedite the implementation of the NSTP as the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education assumed that it is the Department that had been holding back the implementation of this policy. It had been agreed that the Committee would meet with the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education after the recess period so as to further clarify the matter of the NSTP. The Department of Basic Education (DBE) should do what is right and transfer the budget for the NSTP. There were bridges that belonged to municipalities that had been washed away by floods but had not been repaired. This pointed to the challenge of concurrence between local, provincial and national Department. There should be a focus on industrialisations and manufacturing so as to create sustainable jobs as highlighted in the IPAP. The Department should work with research organisations such as the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) so as to fast track the development and maintenance of road infrastructure.
Ms Chikunga responded that the challenge in the implementation of NSTP was because the Department had implemented a programme without a policy and therefore nothing had been guiding the country in the implementation of that programme. She accepted the criticisms that the Department had taken very long in finalising some of the policies, as there was still no policy on maritime transport. The number of legislations and policies that had been reviewed dated as far back as 1977, 1992 and 1994 and therefore they were old and could potentially create a stumbling block in implementing some of the programmes. The Merchant Shipping Act, 1977 needed to be reviewed and amended so as to talk to the current trajectories of the Department and the country, and informed by some of the international agreements and protocols that had been ratified.
The Department prioritised on road safety and reduction of road fatalities and admitted the challenge on the collection of accurate and reliable statistics on road fatalities. The Department had been using the same strategy as other countries like Sweden and there was a plan to look at other models to improve the accuracy of the statistics. It was easier to capture accurate information on notifiable diseases like Malaria but very difficult on road fatalities and this had been a major weakness on the reliability of the statistics on road fatalities in the country. The Department would work closely with the South African Police Service (SAPS) as police were the first people to be present in any accident and post-mortem. The City of Cape Town had been using mortuaries to collect information on road deaths but this also had its limitations as one body could be taken to different mortuaries and this was likely to tamper the accuracy of the figures. The Department had been looking at ways to notify road deaths immediately so as to improve the accuracy of the statistics and also improve on road safety.
The Chairperson indicated that the Minster had arrived.
The Minister welcomed everyone to the Committee and apologised for arriving late, as she was required in another meeting. She made a special plea for indulgence to the Members that had asked questions and clarification on matters that had provincial or municipal responsibility. This had created delays in providing some of the responses and was not in any way showing contempt to the Committee. The Department planned to focus more on matters related to transformation in the transport sector in favour of the previously disadvantaged, especially women and those with disabilities. The Department had been working closely with the Department of Labour (DoL) in making it possible to improve the basic conditions of employment of labourers in the sector, in particular truck drivers. The Department should create an environment where transport is safe, secure and environmentally friendly. Work had been done on the Shova Kalula project and the non-motorised transport projects so as to improve rural transportation and create job opportunities.
The Minister highlighted that the NSTP remained critically important in order to remove the unscrupulous operators that are transporting learners. In rural areas, bakkies remained the only alternative form of transport for learners and it was critically important for the Department to look at various mode of scholar transport for learners. Most of the bus operators did not want to operate in rural areas because of poor quality of roads infrastructure. It was an indictment on South Africa that the country would be presenting a fragmented report on road safety to the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety formulated in 2011-2020, as there was no comprehensive approach on road safety statistics. She had called on the RTMC to coordinate statistics on road fatalities together with the CSIR, the Medical Research Council (MRC), SAPS and the Department of Health (DoH) so as to at least have credible figures.
The Minister confirmed that the DoH had vowed to assist the Department to deal with drunk driving. The length of time that is often taken to process and analyse the blood sample had created a huge backlog, as it was difficult to convict people on limited evidence. The Department planned to give Parliament statistics on the number of scholars who had died on our roads. There was indeed no system to differentiate the death per category in the country and this was a challenge in the collection of accurate statistics on road fatalities. The Department was now focused on creating capacity in provinces and municipalities to deliver transport in the country, mainly focusing on policies, legislations, programmes and everything related to transportation. The vacancy rate in the Department was a major concern as there were four DDG positions that were still vacant and in order to deliver on the mandate it is essential to be adequately capacitated. It was sad that the two senior women in the Department had resigned hence the Board was full of men.
The Chairperson indicated that there seemed to be a disconnection between long-term and the short-term goals.
Ms Boshielo also reiterated that there was indeed a disconnection between the strategic objectives and quarterly targets and pointed to the problem of reviewing existing policies. The Board had been making it very difficult for the Minister to be able to execute the existing policies because of the never-ending process of reviewing legislations and policies. She wondered whether the Department had been taking the Committee seriously as some of the inconsistencies in the strategic plan were previously discussed at length with the Department.
Mr Mulaudzi indicated that the strategic plan of the Department sounded good and asked whether it was possible for the Department to increase the budget to be allocated to Cross-border Road Transport Agency (C-BRTA) as the entity complained about the major decline in permit application.
Mr De Freitas commented that he could not see how the Department could enhance performance, efficiency and reliability of rail with the current tug-of-war between PRASA and Transnet.
Mr Radebe wanted more information on how the private sector would participate and contribute in Branch line strategy and the limitations of its participation. He asked whether the Department had a strategy in place to curb the situation where the private sector would want to take advantage only where they would benefit more than contributing to the country’s development. This question is also in line with the fear of finding the country in a situation where rail would be privatised and the private sector would end up giving instructions to the government.
The Chairperson agreed with the observations made by Ms Boshielo, as it was clear that there were discrepancies between the strategic objectives and quarterly targets. The matter of STER should have been implemented already as the then DG in 2012 indicated that the policy would be implemented within two years. It was exciting to hear about the concept of having a unit that would oversee the SOEs, as it would allow the Department to be hands-on to the SOEs that fall under its ambit. The Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises had already stated that they would like to meet with the Committee to discuss matters related to Transnet and PRASA so as to find ways to maximise the utilisation of resources towards one vision.
The Minister asked for indulgence in the Committee as the Department had a new DG who arrived when the plan had already been crafted. The Department had suggested that the new DG should be given enough time to study, peruse and review all the plans of the Department so as to make adjustments where needed. Points raised by Members spoke to the issue of capacity in the Department and it was important for people to be placed based on their competencies. She stressed the need for up-skilling and capacity building within the Department, particularly in the maritime branch.
The Minister responded that the maritime branch was critically important to the country as the President spoke about Operation Phakisa to unlock - South Africa’s oceans economic potential. The Deputy Minister had visited the World Maritime University in Sweden and there is now a drive to have a branch of the Whole Maritime University here in the country working together with Sweden. The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University had already shown interest in having the maritime branch. There is also a serious challenge of capacity in the Internal Audit Committee as this had not been a stable unit and was troubled by a number of resignations. Most of those that had resigned in the unit mentioned that they feared for their lives. The C-BRTA still had on-going litigation on the increased permit tariffs in 2011 and the newly increased tariffs in 2014 and the fear of the Department was if the entity were to lose the current case.
There was a good working relationship between the DoT and the Department of Public Enterprise (DPE) as the oversight enterprise area and the Minister promised that the concerns raised by Members over PRASA and Transnet would be resolved. There had already been a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two departments with regard to the Interim Rail Transport Regulator. The Department had launched the National Transport Planning Forum, which would be constituted by provinces and the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and other entities such as PRASA and Transnet. The Presidential Review Committee (PRC) produced a report that focused on the need to improve SOE policy and strengthen the role that these entities play in the economy.
The Minister indicated that currently the biggest headaches in the Department were the Electronic National Traffic Information System (eNaTIS) and the Driving Licence Card; Department had been taken to court on several occasions regarding those two issues. The Department would need to work together with the Committee on trying to solve these challenges as they had major financial implications. The Department is committed to root out any cases of corruption and fraud and often encourages open space where people could report any suspicion of corrupt and fraudulent activities. The Department was also committed to deliver to people of the country as espoused in the Freedom Charter that had been adopted on the 26 June 1955 in Kliptown.
Mr Mathabatha Mokonyane, Deputy Director-General of Public Transport, DoT, responded that concurrence and reduction in the budget were critical issues. All strategies and policies that had been reviewed by the Department had been tested, to check for gap analysis and remedial actions to fill in existing gaps. There was a necessity for the mid-term units to constantly review the Public Transport Strategy of 2007 so as to check for gaps, as it was a five-year strategy. The Department needed to review and amend some of the policies and legislations so as to diversify the programmes and projects to all the provinces in the country. The Department had also been reviewing the BRT strategy as it covered little ground and needed to be spread to other areas. The NLTP had been transferred to Cabinet for consideration of the final policy; it was hoped that it would be approved this time around as there had been concerns around public consultation.
Mr Mokonyane wanted to place on record that delays in the implementation of the NLTP had been on the side of DBE. The National Land Transport Act of 2009, section 2, 4 and 9, 10 and 11 spoke to minimum standards on the conveyance of learners to school. The process of strategic planning and APP had been a rigorous process as the Department had engaged with the AG to scrutinise the plan. He was happy that the AG using the same tools that had been used in auditing had signed off the strategic plan and APP.
Mr Vilana stated that the Department was planning to have a Consolidated Transport Databank, as lack of statistical information had been one of the greatest limitations of the Department. National Treasury had just given the Department funding for STER but this was not for the implementation, as it still needed to go through different processes.
Ms Chikunga reiterated that the new DG needed to be given enough time to familiarise himself with the policies of the Department and make adjustments where needed. The Department was more interested in rendering services to the majority of South Africans.
The Chairperson thanked everyone who had been present and highlighted that all the comments, questions and concerns that had been raised by the Members needed to be noted and rectified to improve the general performance of the Department.
The meeting was adjourned.
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