The Standing Committee on Appropriations met to consider the Committee’s draft Report on the Oversight Visit to the Gauteng Province from 20 to 24 July 2015. The supporting documentation showed that this oversight visit was made in order to determine the progress made by the National Treasury in supporting large cities to accelerate economic growth and integrated development, through its Cities Support Programme. Site visits to the City of Tswane and the City of Johannesburg were conducted on 21 July 2015 and the projects visited were the Mabopane Station Modal Interchange and the Diepsloot Development. The Committee sought to track expenditure on the rail modernisation programme being implemented by Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) and to assess the readiness of the PRASA for the arrival of the first 20 trains at the end of December 2015, which forms part of the Rolling Stock Fleet Renewal Programme; and determine the progress made by PRASA on the delivery of infrastructure projects under the Station Modernisation Project. Meetings had been held with National Treasury, City of Tswane and City of Johannesburg and PRASA, in conjunction with the Portfolio Committee on Transport, which had included a presentation on height specifications of the locomotives which were recently imported from Spain for long distance purposes as part of Shosholoza Meyl.
Some amendments had been made to the draft Report when it was considered on the previous day, and the new wording was indicated. Responses received from the Rail Safety Regulator had been incorporated. Other changes were suggested to grammar or syntax.
The Committee also adopted the minutes of the meeting on 4 August 2015.
Committee’s draft Report on the Oversight Visit to the Gauteng Province from 20 to 24 July 2015: Adoption
The supporting documentation showed that this oversight visit was made in order to determine the progress made by the National Treasury in supporting large cities to accelerate economic growth and integrated development, through its Cities Support Programme. Site visits to the City of Tswane and the City of Johannesburg were conducted on 21 July 2015 and the projects visited were the Mabopane Station Modal Interchange and the Diepsloot Development. The Committee sought to track expenditure on the rail modernisation programme being implemented by Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) and to assess the readiness of the PRASA for the arrival of the first 20 trains at the end of December 2015, which forms part of the Rolling Stock Fleet Renewal Programme; and determine the progress made by PRASA on the delivery of infrastructure projects under the Station Modernisation Project, where 135 stations hadbeen prioritized for upgrades. Phase 1 of this project consisted of 27 stations around South Africa. The Committee conducted inspections at the following sites: Braamfontein Rolling Stock Depot , Shosholoza Meyl Junction, Park Station, Gauteng Nerve Centre. The Committee held a stakeholder meeting with National Treasury, City of Tswane and City of Johannesburg on 21 July 2015. The Committee also held a meeting with PRASA on 22 and 23 July 2015 to discuss the Rolling Stock Fleet Renewal Programme as well as the Station Modernisation Programme. The briefing on the 22 July 2015 was held jointly with the Portfolio Committee on Transport and a presentation was made by the Railway Safety Regulator. Furthermore PRASA made a presentation on Height Specifications of the locomotives which were recently imported from Spain for long distance purposes as part of Shosholoza Meyl.
The Chairperson asked that Members check the new draft of the Committee's Oversight Report (the Report) to check that amendments suggested on the previous day had been captured.
Dr C Madlopha (ANC) asked for feedback from the support staff on whether a response from Passenger Rail Agency South Africa (PRASA) had been given, around the issue of safety and the issues surrounding the Johannesburg Development Agency and the Johannesburg Road Agency.
Mr Tshepo Masoeu, Committee Content Advisor, noted that in regard to safety testing the support staff had contacted PRASA but did not get a response. They had then contacted the Rail Safety Regulator and received a response from the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The submission was that under normal circumstances there would be a prototype train in the country that would go through the normal safety testing procedure, and then subsequent to the testing procedure the Department would arrange for the entire fleet of trains delivered to the country. This response was not given in writing. The staff had also requested a copy of the presentation that the Rail Safety Regulator had made, and that presentation did not indicate such information. What had been stated by the Chief Executive Officer had been incorporated into the Findings section of the Report.
Mr Masoeu pointed out the main changes effected as follows: On point 6.15, it was now stated that "The Committee was of the view that the compatibility of the locomotives with South African safety standards should have been incorporated as part of the prototype testing phase”.
Mr Masoeu said that with regard to the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) and the Johannesburg Road Agency (JRA) ,the support staff, working as a team, had to go through the source documents to check the mandate of JDA and the mandate of JRA. In the documentation for JRA it was noted that the main focus was on the maintenance and construction of roads infrastructure only. The JDA focused on the business environment and the corridors within the city space, and acted as facilitators of development.
The Committee’s main concern was that there should primarily be value for money in having those two agencies, and this point had been factored in to the findings, under paragraph 4.16 of the Report, which read as follows: “The Committee notes that there was an infrastructure project which included a road and a bridge, that was being implemented by the JDA, and alongside that was a road project being implemented by JRA. The Committee is of the view that this may result in overlaps or duplication which could have serious cost implications. Value for money principles should be an integral part of the mandates and functions of all municipal development agencies”.
Mr A McLoughlin (DA) pointed out a couple of grammatical errors. He noted that at point 4.15 on page 9 of the report the words should be “township put” not “township puts”. Point 4.16 should read “this may result in overlaps”, not “this may results in overlaps”.
Mr McLoughlin said that on the previous day's version, page 1 of the Report noted that the 20 trains will arrive at the end of December 2015, but they would actually arrive in November 2015, and this would need to be corrected.
The Chairperson noted that Members were done with corrections on page 1. Moving to page 2, which listed the stakeholders that were present, he reminded Members that on the previous day Mr Shaik Emam had noted other stakeholders such as construction companies that were not mentioned in the Report.
Ms M Manana (ANC) suggested that in future, all people attending the meetings should be introduced to the Committee, and there should be a record of people who attended the meetings and oversight visits, so that their roles could be explained.
Dr M Figg (DA) suggested a correction to paragraph 1 on page 3 of the Report; the second sentence should read: “2015 Division of Revenue Bill”, not “2015 Division of Revenue Report”.
Dr Madlopha suggested a correction to paragraph 3 of page 7 of the Report; the last sentence should read: “The Bridge linked 2 previously divided communities of Diepsloot”.
Mr McLoughlin said that in the second last paragraph of page 10 of the Report the 600 new trains mentioned should be called "train sets" over a duration of 10 years.
Mr McLoughlin also made a correction to the second paragraph on page 11, which should refer to 78 hectares of the local manufacturing plant.
Dr Madlopha suggested new wording for point 6.19 on page 16 of the Report, where the last sentence should read: “The Committee also notes that the new stations will be designed to be as vandal-proof as possible. so that they required little in terms of maintenance and security costs”.
The Committee adopted the Report, with amendments.
Committee Minutes of 4 August 2015
The Committee adopted the minutes.
The meeting was adjourned.