The Road Transport Infringement Agency (RTIA) and the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) briefed the Committee in the presence of the Deputy Minister of Transport, Ms Sindisiwe Lydia Chikunga. The Deputy Minister apologised for inconvenience that might have been caused by the Department of Transport (the Department) delegation who could not determine among themselves who should lead the delegation as accounting authority in the meeting that was scheduled to take place on Tuesday, 14 April 2015. Members felt the Department was not taking the Committee’s work seriously and resolved that the matter would be taken to the Chief Whip and that a letter would be sent to the Minister of Transport requesting further explanation in writing.
The RTIA briefed the Committee focusing on RTIA’s mandate and vision, strategic objectives, and its activities aimed at bringing fundamental change in the transport sphere. The presentation touched on financial matters and risks and challenges that the RTIA was facing.
Members sought clarity on a number of issues, including the readiness of the RTIA in implementing its mandate, fighting corruption through prosecutions, increase of collection of infringement fines as a target, recovering of fines, partnership and collaboration, and why the presentation was prepared in a rush and thus failed to touch on important issues. Members felt that the RTIA was not doing enough. The RTIA should expand its network through collaboration and partnership with various institutions and structures and should focus on road safety awareness workshop and establishing a curriculum that could be introduced in primary schools if it wanted the future generation to be compliant and adherent of the rules and regulations related to road safety. On issues raised for clarity purposes, the RTIA said they would respond in writing. It was given 48 hours to do so.
The RTMC briefed the Committee, focussing on vision, mission, and values; RTMC strategic goals and objectives, alignment to key government priorities, Annual Performance Plan 2015/16; and resources allocation. The RTMC noted its strategic objectives foundation phase 2014/15 which were devised and refined into the Five-Year (2015-2020) strategic goals and objectives, but in line with its mandate as well as in line with the key National Development Plan (NDP). It was challenged by the fact that the power was not fully transferred to it by the Department. On the issue of transferring the power the Deputy Minister responded that all power would be transferred by April (without mentioning the year). Members felt that it was difficult to evaluate the work of the RTMC in the face of having partial power and demanded that the issue of transferring power should be brought to rest as soon as possible to allow the RTMC to do its work efficiently. Members sought clarity on national recruitment, the Five Year Strategic Plan in respect of measurability of targets, accidents in which learners were involved, increase of the budget, do not drink and drive principle, arrive alive strategy, fighting corruption, testing driving skills during night and when raining. Due to time restraints, the RTMC found it desirable to answer questions in writing. It was given 48 hours to do so.
The Railway Safety Regulator briefed the Committee on its 2015/16 Strategic Plan. The Deputy Minister was in attendance at the meeting. The Committee was introduced to the ‘zero occurrences’ aspiration of the RSR and the strategic alignment and collaborative approach of endurance, evaluation, engagement, and empowerment; engineering, education and enforcement were explained. Members felt that although the challenges were identified, it was not clear what needed to be done and there was a lack of regulation overseeing the production of new technology. Train driver certification was questioned in terms of how many drivers there were, if there were resources to manage all the drivers and the gender breakdown of all the drivers. The Department’s ability to regulate was questioned but the Committee heard that the Department did draft legislation and was in fact releasing legislation at the end of April.
The RSR’s collaborative efforts were explained as they extended beyond PRASA to Transnet and NGOs. The Committee asked about the RSR engagement with forums; how inspections were done; an explanation of the vacancy rate as per the organogram; what the collaborative strategies with PRASA entailed and if there was a new baseline. The RSR was questioned about gaps in Quarters 1 and 2 of the Strategic Annual Performance Report, and asked if the gaps entailed that nothing was going to be done in the next two quarters. It was explained that nothing was being done at a strategic level but the RSR had adopted an outcomes based strategy and that some of the activities were already done in the first two quarters of the year so any subsequent activity could not be shown.
Members asked about staff riding, vandalism in the form of cable theft. The RSR indicated that with the new technology staff riding could no longer happen. The Committee heard that the Acting CFO merely replaced the CFO who was unable to attend the meeting.
The Committee committed itself to isolating and recording all the gaps in the Report. This it would send to the RSR for attention and rectification.
The Deputy Minister said the RSR was piloting the use of Pilot Lights at level crossings. Two level crossings have been identified for this in Rustenburg and in Delmas. There would probably be two in the Western Cape so that eventually there would be four. She expressed the wish that that the Portfolio Committee could find time to visit them. There were pilot studies happening and the RSR would know at the end of the term whether it was something that could be rolled out throughout the country, and to see if it reduced fatalities.
The Chairperson opened the meeting by welcoming the Deputy Minister Ms Sindisiwe Lydia Chikunga. She was notified that the meeting could not take place on Tuesday as scheduled because of a breach of the parliamentarian rules. She emphasised that rules were of essence and should be respected so as to improve collaboration between the Committee and the Department as well as the manner in which they were operating. The meeting could not take place because there was no delegated accounting authority to take responsibility and thus lead the Department delegation. This problem would be taken to the Chief Whip for consideration and a letter would be drafted and sent to the Minister of Transport to indicate the Members’ concern about the Department’s attitude. The letter would include the Committee’s suggestions. There should be consequences when officials failed to uphold their duties.
Ms Chikunga stated that she had, the previous day, received sad news that MEC lost a young daughter in a road accident. It was an MEC who worked with the Department during the Easter weekend with regard to ensuring the safety of the roads. It was so unfortunate that he lost a child in a road accident. She extended her condolence to the MEC’s family on behalf of the Department’s staff as well as Committee members. The passing on of the MEC’s daughter reflected the reality of fatalities that were happening on the roads. It was something of deep concern to the Department and something that could not be used as a tool for politicking. The reduction of fatalities was not a major focus in South Africa only but a global issue.
On the issue of the absence of a delegated accounting officer, Ms Chikunga responded that it was constitutionally required for an accounting officer to attend the Committee’s meetings but it was impossible to attend all meetings. It was also the duty of an accounting officer to send an apology if she or he could not attend. According to Department Protocol, the Deputy Director General (DDG) led each delegation, and thus the Department always relaxed when the team was led by the DDG. On Tuesday an Acting DDG, Adv. Nosipho Sobekwa, led the team. It seemed that the Acting DDG did not understand his or her duties. It ought to be noted that the Department had a new DDG who was still undergoing orientation.
Ms Chikunga apologised for any inconvenience caused. She said that there were vacancies of DDGs because some of them had resigned, which was one of challenges.
Mr L Ramatlakane (ANC) stated that the Committee was concerned with the fact that there was no letter of apology or directing the Committee to who would be acting as an accounting authority. The issue was not an absence of DG or DDG. The issue was about the failure on the side of the Department to communicate with the Committee timely on the person who was designated to lead the Department team. The letter was sent on the same day of the meeting and when it arrived, the meeting was adjourned. These were issues of technicalities that could have reasonably been avoided.
Mr MP Sibande (ANC) strongly appealed to the Department to take the Committee’s work seriously by adhering to the parliamentarian rules and procedures. What happened should not happen again in the future. The Committee was surprised by the fact that there was no one who wanted to take responsibility until a letter was requested from the Department delegating power of an accounting officer to one member of the delegation. It was unprofessional.
Ms Chikunga apologised again.
Briefing by the Road Transport Infringement Agency (RTIA)
Mr Japh Chuwe, Chief Executive Officer: RTIA, apologised on behalf of the Chairperson was not able to join the RTIA team due to other commitments, and proceeded to take the Committee through presentation. The presentation touched on the activities taken to achieve the RTIA objectives aimed at a fundamental change in the transport sphere. He went through the RTIA Strategic Plan aligned to its mandate and Annual Performance Plan 2015/16 and resources allocation, including the achievements made. The presentation touched on the budget and risks and challenges that the RTIA was facing.
The RTIA wrote a letter to the Committee requesting a workshop in which the RTIA would elaborate on intricacies of the challenges emanating from its mandate. The RTIA would be able to get a proactive comments and suggestions from Members. The RTIA was tasked with adjudication of any infringement of road regulations. In so doing, it strengthened the relationship that existed between law enforcement and prosecuting authorities. The mandate was to ensure compliance by road-users, but the priority was to ensure that road users understood their rights, duties, obligations, and responsibilities. The RTIA was concerned with habitual infringers and with business people who were not paying their fines. These road regulations breakers should be removed from using our roads. It was working hard to ensure that this happens. It was also working hard to introduce a device that would detect the drivers that who might be under the influence of drugs and identified drivers who used drugs as a major problem.
Briefing by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC)
Mr Gilberto Martin, Chief Operations Officer: RTMC, took the Committee through the presentation and focused on vision, mission, and values; RTMC Strategic Goals and Objectives, alignment of these goals and objectives to key government priorities, Annual Performance Plan 2015/16; and resources allocation. He noted strategic objectives foundation phase 2014/15 and identified a key to milestones and stated that said goals and objectives were devised and refined into the Five-Year (2015-2020) strategic goals, objectives and that they were finally aligned to the National Development Plan (NDP) goals and objectives. In respect of alignment to NDP the following priorities were identified:
- Economic infrastructure
- Promoting health
- Building safe communities
- Promoting accountability and fighting corruption
These priorities could be achieved by building a capable entity and by creating a dynamic and transformed organisation (which was goal 4 of the RTMC), and leveraging funding for road safety and traffic programmes (which was goal 3 of the RTMC) to ensure self-sustainability.
The APP had five programmes, namely operations, law enforcement, traffic intelligence and security, strategic services, supportive services, which were refined into 13 sub-programmes. In terms of these sub-programmes, he noted key areas of emphasis for the deliverables for 2015/16. In order for the RTMC to be in better position to lead and provide strategic leadership it needed to understand what needed to be done, review what was working, and implement recommendations for improvement.
Annual targets were satisfactorily achieved. With regard to road safety, road traffic injury resulted in disability and loss; there was a need to build capacity and sustain efforts to address the problem.
With regard to allocations, the MTEF budget allocation for 2015/16 was R659 million which was an increase of 5.6% from 2014/15 budget. He explained the allocation of budget as per activity and key cost drivers per sub-programme.
Mr M Mabika (NFP) sought clarity from RTIA on a number of issues, including the readiness of the RTIA in implementing its mandate, fighting corruption, increase of collection of infringement fines as a target, and recruitment. Most road accidents took place during holidays and were caused by heavy vehicles simply because drivers were under pressure to deliver. In that case, accidents are caused by drivers’ fatigue. He sought clarity on the measures that could be taken to prevent drivers’ fatigue to cause accidents.
With regard to corruption, he sought clarity on the root cause of corruption in the traffic department in respect of testing driving skills. He felt that traffic officers were corrupt due to being paid low salaries and thus recommended that the Department should review their salaries. With regard to increase of collection of infringement of fines as a target, he sought clarity on whether the RTIA was expecting the number of infringements to increase rather than decreasing. Should it be an increase of collection that was expected, it was clear that there was contradiction or inconsistency between the RTIA’s mandate and its operation. Referring to corruption, he commented that there was abundant evidence demonstrated that some traffic officers were releasing cars that were not adhering to road regulations because they bribed traffic offers but not because they were compliant.
He asked one question of the RTMC. He sought clarity on whether recruitment of youth was conducted in all provinces so as to respond to unemployment problems that provinces faced.
Mr Ramatlakane expressed his concern about the RTIA’s presentation, which did not touch on certain important issues, including partnership with other Departments and entities and educating learners about road safety rules, especially don’t drink and drive. The latter had not been done because no partnership existed between the RTIA and the Department of Basic Education. Did the RTIA ever consider partnership with radios and TVs for the purpose of educating the public about road safety? What were the RTIA partners at provincial levels? The presentation touched on non-serious matter, leaving serious or big problems without being explained or discussed.
Mr Ramatlakane said road traffic was essential services, but visibility of enforcement agents was also essential. People usually comply because of the visibility of police. Enforcement aspects were lacking.
Mr Ramatlakane expressed his concern about the RTIA’s Five Year Strategic Plan in respect of measurability of targets. Achievement of most of targets were unclear because there was nothing written in the achievement section/blocks. It was evident that not enough time that was allocated to preparing a presentation.
Mr TE Mulaudzi (EFF), directing questions to RTIA, sought clarity on how fines were recovered, especially for those who were not willing to pay after a warrant for their property was barred and on whether there were financial implications related to summons issued against the non-compliant. In the case of financial implications, who was liable?
Directing the question to RTMC, Mr Mulaudzi, referring to the RTMC vision, commented that its primary mandate was to save the lives of all people living in South Africa who make use of the roads. Vision was good in purpose. However accidents relentlessly continued to take place during Easter holidays irrespective of the fact that the RTMC had a good plan to save lives.
Mr Mulaudzi asked when the Department was going to transfer the power to the RTMC fully. For more efficient operation of traffic police, the Department should prepare a draft on how this entity could operate in a similarly one uniform fashion and present the draft to parliament for approval. Having different uniforms of traffic officers brought with it confusion given that the public could not identify whose officer mandated to do a particular job. The traffic officers were clearly operating in chaos. To avoid confusion and chaos, all traffic officers should have one uniform and be under one management similar to that of the police force.
On the issue of budget, people were losing money worth R306 billion per annum to road accidents. If that money could have been reduced and the reduction be allocated to RTMC, there was no doubt that the RTMC could improve on its road safety service delivery. The RTMC complained that its budget needed to be increased for improved services. How much could have been allocated to the RTMC to do a good work? Support to a request made by the RTMC to increase its budget to do its work properly was not cynical. Without enough resources, nothing would happen. Law enforcements were needed to reduce fatalities on the road.
On the issue of testing alcohol, he suggested that alcohol be banned completely if the Department wanted to see its programme – arrive alive – successful. He gave examples of India and Saudi Arabia where the principle of do not drink and drive was enforced literally and strictly. In these two countries, road accidents were very low.
The renewal of licence should be subject to testing driver capability.
Ms T Xego-Sovita (ANC), welcomed the RTIA’s move to increase penalties for infringements and the strategic plan to introduce a device that would be testing whether a driver was under the influence of drugs. Drugs were also a source of roads accidents. She was not satisfied with the factors that were identified as sources of road accidents given that they did not mention corruption as one of the actors that caused accidents. Accidents occurred due to drivers who could not skilfully drive – simply because driving licences were not awarded to them on merit, rather upon bribing traffic officials. On the issue of partnership and stakeholders, the RTIA should extend the stakeholders to include certain individuals and not be restricted to institutions, entities, and or organisations. With regard to the RTIA targets, the RTIA, was targeting to reach out to five provinces. The RTIA should focus on how it could go beyond its initial targets to have all of its planned activities under each programme done in all provinces and in all municipalities of a province. In so doing, it could be said that it had reached the communities.
Directing questions to RTMC, Ms Xego-Sovita, sought clarity on the recruitment of 1000 new traffic officers. Were they recruited from all provinces or whether those who were recruited happened to be residing in the vicinity of the RTMC office and whether unemployed youth was only a target. Referring to the matters related to investigations of fraud and corruption, she sought clarity on what the RTMC did with finalised investigation. She appreciated the introduction of the 21st century curriculum and cadre. Old traffic officers indeed needed to be up skilled.
Ms S Boshielo (ANC) commented that the RTIA was doing little or nothing to educate the public about the road traffic rules and regulations. The presentation was silent on public awareness workshops. Had any awareness workshop taken place as was promised in the first quarter. If no awareness workshop took place, what were reasons behind that? Was it because of a very limited budget? Expansion of partnership and collaboration was essential.
Commenting on the RTMC presentation, the Department had an onerous duty to ensure that there was a national road traffic officer whose uniform was standard for road users to identify them easily. The Department should refrain from confusing people by creating various sections of traffic officers with different duties. The Department needed to find a way to reconcile and transform the Road Traffic entity.
On the transferring power, she said that the matter was urgent for the RMTC to be able to operate fully and effectively. Was legislation needed for that to be achieved? She suggested the Department submit a progress report to the Committee in respect with how power had been or was transferred to the RTMC.
Ms Boshielo sought clarity on the revenue that were being raised by municipalities and expressed concern about an absence of enforcement of road traffic rules regardless of having various institutions and structures. There was public outcry on the learners and students being involved in road accidents. What was the Department doing to ensure that learners and students did not become victims of road accidents? According to research projects most of accidents took place either at night or when raining and that was due to the fact that people’s driving skills were tested during the day and in clear weather. She sought clarity on whether the Department should introduce testing driving skills during the night and when raining or whether a driving licence should state that a person was capable of driving during the day but not in the night or when raining.
Ms Chikunga agreed with Mr Ramatlakane that road traffic services were essential services. However, these services were dependent upon the resources available, be it human, financial, or tools. The capacity to deliver could also meet certain legal aspects before the delivery could be declared essential.
A survey was conducted in relation to road accidents that took place during the Easter weekend when schools were closed for the Easter holiday. The survey revealed that road accidents that took place in inland road traffics were, in various respects, different with that that were occurring in the coastal road traffics. Most accidents took place in inland traffics. For that reason alone, the Department was holding talks with the Department of Basic Education and of Higher Education to close the schools for holidays on Wednesday so that students and learners could be able to travel safely home.
Some accidents could be fatal only because passengers did not buckle up their seat belts and agreed that heavy vehicles were the one to cause road accidents. A road traffic safety policy was needed to clarify certain essential matters.
R306 billion was spent on funding victims of road accidents. The road accidents fund seemed to be high, but the Committee should know that, whenever a person was fatally injured, that mishap involved hospital bills and loss of income and all these issues hiked money that could be spend on an injured person.
On the question on what the RTMC could do after finalising a fraud and corruption investigation, once an investigation was finalised, the matter was no longer in the hands of the RTMC to handle, finalised investigation cases were handed to the relevant authority to decide how it would deal with said cases.
On the issue of extension of partnerships and stakeholders, Ms Chikunga fully agreed with Members suggestions and their concerns would be looked into.
On the issue of a need to complete the transfer of power process, the remaining power would be transferred by April.
The Department was very committed to improving its services delivery when it came to road accidents. It was its desire to ensure that people’s lives are not changed forever by road accidents victimisation. Road accidents could not be divorced from pain and suffering of families of the victims who were killed, maimed, or seriously injured. It could not be divorced from the pain and suffering suffered by those who became disabled for life. Road accidents caused an unendurable pain to South African society. The Department was open and welcomed any recommendation or suggestion in relation with how the roads could be safer.
Ms Chikunga finally commented that the issue of corrupting traffic officers so as to pass a driving skills test was, in South Africa, institutionalised. Institutionalisation of corruption challenged the Department. She agreed with Members that corruption motivated traffic officers to desist from requesting promotion or objecting to promotion suggestions. In order to combat an institutionalised corruption, the community ought to play its role. In order to encourage people not to be involved in corruption, the Department would make use of pastors and priests to educate people about immorality of corrupting traffic officers or buying driving licences. The community should know that an absence of testing driving skills and of obtaining driving licenses on merit had consequences of costing lives of people. ‘We should meaningfully engage communities if we are willing to fight against corruption. Or else, corruption will never be uprooted’, she said.
Ms Chikunga was excused.
Mr GS Radebe (ANC) proposed the Committee send a letter of condolence to the MEC who lost her daughter in a road accident. A Bill was presented to the Committee the previous year, what was impending the Bill from progression. It was clear that someone was not doing his or her job. The Committee should take note of this issue for follow-up and demand a full report on the issue from the Department. On the factors causing road accidents, he pointed out tweeting, face booking and whatsupping while driving were issues on rise causing road accidents. This issue should be noted and be dealt. The use of cell-phones whilst driving was a matter taken serious in Cape Town. A cell-phone could be taken away for three weeks or a fine of R3000 could be imposed. On issue of having differentiated uniform traffic police with differentiated duties, he singled out Metro Police as people who were concerned with taking money from people, rather than enforcing the law for ensuring that people were adhering to road safety rules. Their duties were unclear.
Directing his comments to the RTMC, Mr Radebe asked who was impeding transferring power to the RTMC executive authority. How would one conclude that the RTMC was not doing its job in the face of an absence of full authority?
The Chairperson stated that the Committee should take a decision on how the transfer of power should be resolved once and for all. She noticed that most critical posts were not filled and sought clarity on how these entities were operating in the absence of most critical skills needed for the entities to run efficiently. Another concern raised was the fact that these entities were looking into how the workforce should be reduced when they had many unfilled posts.
Mr Sibande, referring to the MEC who lost her daughter in a road accident, said that the road accident matter should not be restricted to expressing condolences; rather an investigation should be conducted, given that the MEC was a person who was serious on the issue of road safety. The fact that the RTIA presentation papers were empty illustrated that it did not have enough time to prepare its presentation. On the issue of having uniformed or undifferentiated traffic officers, he felt that that the problem was not restricted to having a bad institutionalised system in place, but also the entities were not talking to each other. He sought clarity on road safety ambassadors and their role. On the issue of road safety rules consciousness, he commented that educating people about road safety should start in childhood. That should be included in the primary school curriculum. He was also concerned with the presentations, which were not prepared to reflect the entities current activities but which they seemed to be cut and paste of the previous presentations, and expressed his worries about the lack of proper interactions as well as evaluation and monitoring of an entity’s activities. How often did the Department or RTIA or RMTC interact with the Road Accident Funds (RAF), for example?
The strategy of placing the RAF agents at hospitals was not solving problems because victims of road accidents could lack essential information or proper documentation to claim RAF. He was also concerned that the drivers who consumed drugs could not be detected and pulled off the roads. The issue of unfilled critical positions was a challenge because positions of responsible people were vacant.
The Chairperson sought clarity on the issue of retrenching workers and whether researches were being done in order to direct entities on what could be pressing matters. How was it possible to provide a strategic plan in a simple-but-one paragraph? Strategic plan should be revisited and be revised to set a clear, coherent and detailed strategic plan.
Given time restraints because both the Department delegates and Members were about to attend the parliamentary plenary, Mr Martin and Mr Chuwe responded that they would respond in writing. They have taken notes of recommendations, observations, and suggestions that were forwarded by members for the sake of improvement of entities’ operations. They said that they were pleased to get these very constructive and insightful comments from Members. They took them seriously.
After deliberations, the Chairperson stated that responses should be given within 48 hours.
The meeting was adjourned so that Members could attend President Zuma’s address.
The Committee resumed after the plenary sitting.
Briefing on the Railway Safety Regulator 2015/16 Strategic and Annual Performance Plans
Mr Nkululeko Poya, Chairperson of the Executive Office (CEO), Railway Safety Regulator (RSR), outlined its Compliance-driven Strategic approach, its Collaborative Approach and its Risk Based Approach, and the time frames attached to each approach. The Strategic Levers/Drivers (7E’s) of endurance, evaluation, engagement, empowerment, engineering, education and enforcement were explained. Strategic Outcome 1, Risks in the Railway Landscape have been Mitigated, had four objectives:
Strategic Objective 1.1: secure sufficiency of safety related and safety critical competencies in the rail industry;
Strategic Objective 1.2: mitigate human factor risks;
Strategic Objective 1.3: enable people and rail to co-exist safely; and
Strategic Objective 1.4: strengthen the regulatory approach on asset maintenance.
A trend analysis of revenue for the past five years was provided with R164 379 million allocated for 2015/16. The current employment equity profile showed 56 African Males, 57 African Females, 1 Coloured Male, 4 Coloured Females, 1 Indian Male, 2 Indian Females, 6 White Males and 3 White Females. (See Document)
Mr M Sibande (ANC) expressed confusion about the organogram and asked for clarity about vacancies.
Ms Natalie Skeepers, non-Executive Director on the Board of the RSR, replied that it was true that there were some vacancies within the Board up until about three months ago. The Board was now filled in full capacity. It had two vacancies filled in the last sitting and it was functional, so the organogram will be filled to show the Board did exist.
Mr Poya said that the presentation did show the overall oversight organisational structure and apologised that in trying to reduce the number of slides it was presented in this way. It would have been proper and appropriate to show the vacancies that were there. This would be updated to make sure that it would be evident the next time this information was provided. Technically on the executive level there were no vacancies.
Mr Sibande said that where reasons were given for challenges, nothing was mentioned about signals because they also gave problems. He was touched about the issue of awareness that the Department had raised. Vandalism and cable theft were also challenges. The other issue of concern was that of young children jumping out of trains and doing staff rides.
Mr Poya replied that currently with the new trains coming from PRASA one would not be able to staff ride. The design did not allow staff riding. Staff riding was a serious challenge and it was being looked at from a station management point of view.
The train will not be able to move if doors were not closed and the system could not be over-rode. The Deputy Minister had mentioned what was broadly being done and also looking at issues of security in collaboration with the railway police. The RSR was looking at the security elements and this point was noted and would be dealt with when crowd management was dealt with. The RSR was working with PRASA and Transnet on security.
With regard to internal controls, Mr Sibande referred to the unqualified audit opinion and asked if the Department had a risk management strategy.
Ms Tshepo Kgare, Chief Operating Officer (COO) replied a person was appointed as a Chief Risk Officer, and each year risks were identified. The RSR was looking at internal risks and looked at controls to ensure that it did the right thing to mitigate the risks that are within the RSR. The RSR was also in process of getting a Senior Manager External Risk who could look at the risk within the operator space as well. This area of risk was well covered within the RSR.
Mr Sibande asked how many women and how many men were part of the 1000 train drivers who were due to receive certificates.
Mr T Mulaudzi (EFF) said there was not sufficient signage on the 119 level crossings. He expressed concern about signage in the rural areas.
Mr Poya replied that signage was the responsibility of the Railway Operator.
Mr Mulaudzi asked if there were sufficient awareness campaigns for the 119 level crossings.
Mr Poya replied that local radio was used for awareness, and the RSR was doing as much as its funds allowed. There was collaboration with some local radio stations and the RSR was trying to expand its reach by engaging with NGOs because this allowed it to do a lot more in terms of engagement of the communities with particular foci.
Mr Mulaudzi asked who was investigating incidences and if there was collaboration with Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) and TRANSNET.
Mr Poya replied that investigations were done with operators and needed to be independent investigations with properly arranged structures. If a there was a Board of Inquiry, then there was an independent lawyer and an independent firm of engineers. The decisions from the Board of Inquiry were not going to be challenged, as they were implementable because an independent investigation was done. Obviously there were lower level investigations that were done by the RSR and a report was given to the operator to rectify. The RSR was more interested in root causes of problems. There were three investigations currently underway: one in Gauteng, one in Cape Town and a Corridor that would be happening in KwaMashu KwaZulu Natal. The RSR was aware that those three investigations in those Corridors would provide greater insight into rail incidents.
There was collaboration with PRASA as a nerve centre. Collaboration was through the National Information Monitoring System because the RSR regulations were now standard. The RSR was very happy that PRASA had put up a nerve centre because it would report throughout our system. There was a central point of reporting. There was therefore full reporting of incidents. PRASA was also putting in cameras at that nerve centre and this would uplift the issues of security on the overall network.
The RSR had requested PRASA to finalise a behavioural study on patterns of behaviour of train drivers linked to collisions. The study was currently underway and the RSR looked forward to their results.
Mr Mulaudzi said with regard to Platform Train Interfaces, only Gauteng was shown. He asked if there was any information about Platform Train Interfaces for other provinces.
The organogram structure would be better if it showed reporting to the Board and the Board reporting to the Ministry.
Mr Mulaudzi also referred to employment equity and said Disability and Youth were not reflected as variables in employment equity.
Mr Poya replied that as a regulator it worked very closely with the Transport Education Training Authority (TETA) and actually got confirmation of R750 000 to allow for an internship program. The TETA was also partly funding a training programme for junior inspectors. They were actually called junior engineers who were not experienced but had about a year or two of experience. The RSR took them through a programme. There were 13 at the moment and they could register with the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA).
Mr L Ramatlakane (ANC) said that the Committee would hold the Department/RSR to the Strategic Levers 7E’s as shown on page 12 of the Railway Safety Regulator 2015/16 Strategic Plan Report. The ‘zero occurrences’ approach sounded fairly punchy but it was merely what the RSR was aspiring to. He wondered if the RSR would really get to that point.
Mr Ramatlakane asked for an explanation of the circumstances around the Acting CFO.
Mr Poya replied that the Acting CFO was just representing the CFO because he had a family emergency so he could not be here today but he was basically around and Ms Mapule Pitso was just representing him.
Mr Ramatlakane asked why there were 1000 driver certifications specifically, and not more or less than 1000.
Mr Ramatlakane said he liked the column provided for Resources and asked why there were zero resources in one of the columns.
Mr Ramatlakane asked why there was a new baseline, and if it was for a new function.
Mr Ramatlakane said that on page 43 of the Strategic Annual Performance 2015/20 Report there were dashes in certain areas. He asked if it meant that the RSR was not going to do anything in that function for next two quarters.
Mr Poya replied that the reason for this was that the RSR wanted this strategy to be outcomes based strategy to move away from the enabler approach. What then tended to happen was that some of the activities would be done or ready in the first two quarters of the year so any subsequent activity could not be shown. An example of this was the train driver’s certification. It was not possible to certify any drivers in the first two quarters because the issue was regulation and also more importantly the issue of the system itself. So what were shown in the documents were the outcomes or outputs – things that one could hold onto that were tangible. There was an operational plan linked to the overall annual performance plan so tactical, strategic and operational targets within the same document.
Mr Ramatlakane said on page 40 and 44, there were gaps in Quarters 1 and 2 and then suddenly Quarter 3 and 4 had entries. He asked for an explanation about this and if it was linked to the need for more personnel in the form of engineers.
Mr Poya replied that where areas that showed nothing being done in those two quarters, it meant that nothing was being done at a strategic level. The Committee’s concern about this was noted. It would be rectified and the RSR would make sure it did not sell itself short. Members would then have a full appreciation of what the RSR was doing.
Mr Ramatlakane asked for clarity about how inspections were done.
Mr Poya replied that the technology being use at the moment for inspections was called the IM2000 machine. It did runs and assessment. There was still a requirement for people to walk the tracks to check and tighten up some of the bolts etc.
Mr Ramatlakane asked what the collaborative strategies with PRASA were.
Mr Poya replied that as a regulator the RSR did collaborate around understanding the challenges about why people do not do the right things. But at a certain point one needs to be firm and not allow too much leeway to do certain things. PRASA was aware of this.
Ms S Boshielo (ANC) said she was using the bigger document to make her input. The 2014/15 financial year was ‘out’ as the entries there did not make sense.
Ms Boshielo referred to page 10 where challenges were identified. However it was not very clear about what needed to be done. This also held true in the section on Bridging Technical Knowledge experience with modernisation.
Ms Boshielo said that collaboration should go beyond PRASA.
Mr Poya replied that there was also collaboration with the Gautrain. The new technologies that had were very useful.
Ms Boshielo said that on page 20 with the SWAT analysis, it was revealed that there was a lack of collaboration with other departments and municipalities. There was also a lack of regulation overseeing the production of new technology. There were many weaknesses and a column was needed to show ‘what needed to be done’.
Ms Boshielo said that in the area where external threats were outlined, some issues were identified which were not in the ambit of the RSR, yet there were plans for implementation. This would be difficult.
Ms Boshielo liked the way the strategy was tabled, but down the page, what was intended did not speak to what the RSR wanted to do.
Ms Boshielo said that there was no action in the section on ‘the threat of the introduction of new technology’.
Mr Poya replied that some of the weaknesses were around issues where there was a regulation. It should be note that when technology reviews were mentioned, it was a regulation that was being referred to. He apologised that this was not made clear in the presentation.
With regard to the 1000 certified train driver, Ms Boshielo said that the RSR needed to say how many train drivers there were in the country, and then state according to the resources, how many it could certify.
Mr Poya replied that currently in the overall rail system there were 4415 train drivers.
Ms Boshielo referred to Regulation 47 on page 32, and asked if the RSR was able to do the regulation because a number of regulations have been developed. She asked further if it was the Department’s responsibility to do regulations.
Mr Jan de Villiers, Acting Deputy-Director: Department of Transport said a question was asked about Regulation 47 drafted by the Department. In terms of the RSR Act, one of the objectives of the RSR was to draft regulations then the Minister would promulgate into legislation. This was a pragmatic way of addressing it because obviously there were operational issues that related to the RSR and those regulations would be drafted by the RSR and then submitted to the Department. The Department also drafted legislation; in fact it was releasing such legislation by the end of April. This legislation concerned RSR tariffs and how to calculate those tariffs which was National regulation.
Mr Radebe asked for more information about engagements with forums.
Mr Poya replied that if it seemed that the RSR were a little antagonistic in their approach in their engagement in forums, this was not the case. Even the collaboration with the Rustenburg Municipality was a collaboration of respect. The RSR worked with municipalities in dealing with the problems that existed because as a regulator it did have certain limitations.
Mr G Radebe (ANC) commended the CEO. On maintenance of assets, he said collaboration would make it easier to maintain assets.
Mr Poya replied that the inspections being done would provide ample opportunity to improve maintenance of assets. Inspections provided the opportunity to give Directives. The improvement directives normally took two to three months and then one was supposed to make sure problems found were fixed.
Mr Radebe said he liked collaboration with NGO’s because normally NGOs linked to communities so one could get buy-in to communities to ensure proper delivery.
Ms S Xego-Sovita (ANC) said that the 1000 train drivers were a baseline issue. She asked if there were any train drivers certified before, because to understand the total number of train drivers, one needed to have all of them certified.
Ms Xego-Sovita did not understand the vacancy rate in the organogram as the CEO had mentioned someone in an acting position. This meant that there were vacant posts. She asked what the targets were and said it would be good if answers could be submitted to the Committee through the Secretary.
The Chairperson said that Ms Boshielo had said a lot about matters beyond the control of the RSR. There was a need to look at internal issues that needed attention. The Strategic Plan had to be reworked especially on the SWAT analysis. The SWAT analysis looked at external threats. It would be useful if the RSR could also look at internal issues that may impede execution of their brief. She aligned herself with what the Members had said. The RSR should try to clean out the strategic plan so that it could become a living document that could be used in the next five years.
The Chairperson referred the Deputy Minister to page 70 of the Strategic Plan where it spoke of public entities. The second bullet point on the page was repeated twice so two outputs were repeated. Quality assurance of reports had to be ensured. The presentation was appreciated and the CEO the Board showed a hands-on approach, which was admirable.
Deputy Minister briefing
Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga, Deputy Minister of Transport, thanked the Committee for their comments. She agreed with the Chairperson that the Strategic Plan had to be reviewed and changes had to be made. She would liaise with editors to ensure that errors in the Report were corrected.
Stability in terms of finances was achieved when it came to the Railway Safety Regulator. It did not mean that there were adequate finances; it meant that one could plan on the bases that there was knowledge about how much revenue was forthcoming in the financial year.
The issue of cable theft was not only for the Department but seen as economic sabotage and Cabinet has seen the need to come up with minimum sentencing for people found guilty of stealing copper wire or cables. This was definitely being looked into and was very important. Usually PRASA would take responsibility, but the regulator would have to say whether for example there was a signalling problem. It was the responsibility of Transnet because they owned the infrastructure.
She agreed with the EFF in that the organogram should have the Board. The 2013/14 baseline was all that the RSR had as 2013/14 has been audited. The 2014/15 financial year had just been completed so the figures were not available. There were therefore no 2014/15 figures for this financial year.
The Chairperson referred to Honourable Boshielo and Honourable Ramatlakane and said that the issues they raised have identified the gaps. She asked the Committee to give itself time to be able to extract the gaps and send them to the Department for the attention of the RSR so that they would be able to see the gaps identified.
The Deputy Minister said that answers would be provided to all the questions from Members. The Portfolio Committee was thanked for the engagement as it had prepared the RSR for another process like the Annual Performance Plans for the next financial year. The RSR was piloting the use of Pilot Lights at level crossings. Two level crossings have been identified for this in Rustenburg and in Delmas. There would probably be two in the Western Cape so that eventually there would be four. She expressed the wish that that the Portfolio Committee could find time to visit them. There were pilot studies happening and the RSR would know at the end of the term whether it was something that could be rolled out throughout the country, and to see if it reduced fatalities. There were 394 fatalities and the Department wanted to reduce this so it would do whatever was in its power to accomplish this. The RSR could not work alone, so it worked alongside other stakeholders and NGOs. The Committee was thanked for the engagement.
Question asked but not answered
Mr Radebe referred to the ‘Platform Train Interface graph and asked how problematic platforms were going to be rectified and whose responsibility it was to deal with this.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Road Transport Infringement Agency, Road Traffic Management Corporation; & Railway Safety Regulator on 2015/16 Strategic and Annual Performance Plans 1
- Road Transport Infringement Agency, Road Traffic Management Corporation; & Railway Safety Regulator on 2015/16 Strategic and Annual Performance Plans 2
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