Implementation of National Land Transport Transition Act: briefing by Department

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07 March 2003
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report


7 March 2003

Mr J Cronin (ANC)

Documents handed out:

Department Report on the National Land Transport Transition Act

The Department of Transport reported to the Committee on the implementation of the National Land Transport Transition Act. A number of initiatives were being undertaken simultaneously, including upgrading and integrating provincial databases and systems, upgrading the bus industry, and making recommendations for metered taxis. Further input is needed before the Department completes devising a comprehensive plan in some areas, such as metered taxis.

With respect to the National Ports Authority Bill, the Committee suggested that there may be further consultation on key issues in the Bill before it is passed. The issue of the separation of the national ports authority and Transnet was raised. The Committee noted that ports are a complicated interface between the public and private sector. The key objective should be to create greater efficiency. They suggested that a national ports user forum should be started to gather suggestions and information.

Mr Jerry Makokoane, Senior General Manager: Policy Strategy and Implementation, Department of Transport, addressed the Committee's recommendations on the National Land Transport Transition Act, 2000 (NLTTA). The Department has been working towards the integration of public transport. Since the passage of the NLTTA, the Department has learned from its experiences in trying to implement the Bill.

Information system
The Department is currently working closely with the Provinces to integrate public transport across provincial lines. All the provincial databases and systems are being integrated at the National level, ensuring that a uniform repository of information is maintained by the provinces. Registration data from the Provincial Registrars, permit and operating license data from the Provincial Operating Licensing Boards, and bus subsidy information from the Provincial Departments are all included in the National Land Transport Information System. The system has been fully developed and is being rolled out to the Provinces.

Transport plans
The Department is awaiting public transport plans from all of the Provinces. The Department had set up the end of December 2002 as a deadline, but unfortunately that has been missed. Money has been given to the Provinces to assist in the preparation of Current Public Transport Records and the Provincial Land Transport Frameworks. These plans should be completed by the end of March 2003.

The bus industry is the most critical area that the Department has targeted. The Department has implemented a plan to ensure that all buses are maintained in good condition. One priority is to guarantee that public transport users who are the most disadvantaged get improved service. Currently areas with the lowest average household income are receiving the lowest support from subsidies. A study is currently being conducted that will result in a public transport subsidy policy as well as a public transport subsidy strategy. The study should be completed in August 2003 and will deal with the prioritisation of benefits to commuters, subsidy for all modes of public transport, and the adequacy of the levels of subsidy requirements for all modes.

The Department had hoped to finish work on metered taxis by the end of March, but that deadline will be missed, as further consultation is needed. Issues surrounding rural transport should be included by the end of the month.

Mr A Ainslie (ANC) asked Mr Makokoane to explain to the Committee which amendments to the Act would be completed by the end of March deadline.

Mr Makokoane answered that there were a number of issues that the Department has been working on to meet the end of March deadline. The metered taxi issue would not be finalised. The Department's response to the issue of persons with disabilities should be completed. The issue of Tourism Services will not be finalised by the Department. The planning cycle for all plans is five years. Every year the Department is supposed to update the Committee, yet this is too frequent. The review cycle will be conducted every two years. The Department will work on an efficient way to enable the transition from current licensing system to the new operating licensing system. A definition of Municipal Public Transport will be completed.

Mr S B Farrow (DP) asked about the method of subsidisation. When subsidies go to service providers, it is not guaranteed that the money will benefit the consumer. Would it be possible to give the subsidies directly to the commuters that use the public transport system rather than to the service providers?

Mr Makokoane stated that the provinces will have the ability to prioritise and allocate subsidies. They will be responsible for distributing the money.

Mr G Schneemann (ANC) asked when changes in rural transport can be expected.

Mr Makokoane explained that it was hard to enforce laws of transport in rural areas. Transport on vans is only allowed from one farm to another, yet sometimes these journeys occur over long distances. This method of travel is not safe since the vehicles are overcrowded and are ften are involved in accidents.

Mr Farrow stated that his question concerning subsidies was not fully answered. The subsidy should go to the individual, allowing less room for error or money wasted. Can we target the individuals most in need and not simply the areas, like busses? Can the subsidies be given to the most disadvantaged commuters?

Mr Makokoane answered that the Department would like to target the most vulnerable groups. Many subsidies cannot go to individuals, for they are capital subsidies meant to improve transport infrastructure. The Department will monitor the transport industries that receive the subsidies to ensure accountability. South Africa presently does not have the infrastructure to identify which people are the most vulnerable and the delivery service to give those people transportation discounts. In the short term, delivering subsidies to people is impossible.

Mr Cronin stated that the Committee was involved in a good process. The document prepared by the Department would be helpful in the planning of the amendment bill. The interaction between the Department and the Committee has made it possible for the preparation of a more feasible bill. The Chair stated that the Committee needed to define a clear path for subsidies. The subsidies need to go towards rolling back poverty.

The Chairperson raised the issue of the National Ports Authority (NPA). Some people are of the view that the NPA should split from Transnet. This is not even a viable option since 58% of Transnet's revenue comes from the NPA.

Mr Schneemann stated that the Committee must do what is right for the country. If the Committee just passed the National Ports Authority Bill and separated the NPA and Transnet, it could have disastrous effects on the transportation industry. The Committee should hear more viewpoints before acting.

The Chairperson stated that the legislative drafters should take time for the ordeal between the NPA and Transnet to transpire. Time is needed for these matters to be sorted out before passing the Bill.

Mr Farrow called for more consultation with both unions and business. The Committee needs to understand who has control.

The Chairperson stated that the Maydon Wharf issue and the predominant source of national oil need to be examined. The ports are a complicated interface between the public and private sector. The key objective should be to create greater efficiency. A national ports user forum should be started to gather suggestions and information. These are big infrastructure issues. The Committee needs to act in a planned method without behaving recklessly about property rights.

The private sector has argued for a clean regulator to enforce laws about the use of national ports. Perhaps the use of a national court could be beneficial to both businesses and unions? The court could deal with liability and environmental issues in an integrated capacity. In any event, a national ports user forum should be helpful.

The Chairperson noted that the legal framework for these issues will take some time to be in place. One and a half to two months would be needed for consideration of the macro issues. The Committee may bring back stakeholders for hearings, if necessary.

The Committee was adjourned.


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