The Select Committee on Petitions and Executive Undertakings continued their consideration of the Lunga Kona Petition, requesting the intervention of the NCOP on the upgrade of roads and construction of bridges in certain parts of the Eastern Cape. Although the South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL), the municipality and provincial department responsible for roads had been requested to attend, only SANRAL did so. SANRAL explained how the bypasses and roads in the Eastern Cape were dealt with. Although primarily SANRAL's mandate was only to deal with national roads, in fact SANRAL had been requested by the Provincial Government of the Eastern Cape to take over a substantial number of other roads, and it explained the main problems with bypass and access to some towns, what had been discussed and how it was assisting the Eastern Cape. However, in the discussion it came out that in fact none of the roads or bridges that were mentioned in this petition were under the control or mandate of SANRAL, and that SANRAL therefore bore no liability. Members noted, however, that SANRAL had given some important background information and SANRAL offered to attend any future briefings to clarify any other issues that arose. Some Members were very critical both of the fact that the municipality and province had not attended, and of the fact that the terms of reference had not been clarified sufficiently to avoid the Committee listening to a presentation that, whilst interesting, was not relevant. The Committee Chairperson agreed to write a stern letter to the municipality and province calling upon them to give an explanation for their failure to attend and arranging another date.
The Committee then briefly turned to the petition requesting the intervention of the NCOP on the alleged ill-treatment of students, corruption and racism by Africa Skills FET College in the Western Cape Province. Two Members raised concerns that this petition perhaps should not have been referred to this Committee since it appeared that it had not first been passed through the provincial hearings process. Whilst the issue was deemed not up for discussion in this case, since the House Chairperson had asked the Committee to deal with the issue, Members suggested that for the future, a process should be developed to direct petitioners more clearly to appropriate avenues of relief. Given that time was short, further deliberations could not be held but the Committee noted that it was necessary to move with speed on all outstanding petitions.
Lunga Kona Petition: continuation of hearing
The Chairperson noted that the meeting would continue with the hearing of the petition from Lunga Kona, requesting the intervention of the NCOP on the upgrade of roads and construction of bridges in certain parts of the Eastern Cape. The Provincial Department of Roads and Transport, the OR Tambo Municipality and SA National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) had been asked to brief the Committee on the issues raised in the Lunga Kona Petition. However, since the province and municipality were not present, he asked that the SANRAL presentation should outline the progress.
Mr Mbulelo Peterson, Regional Manager: SANRAL, firstly outlined the service delivery model. SANRAL is the implementing arm of the Department of Transport (NDoT or the Department). SANRAL was established in 1998 by an Act of Parliament, with a mandate to plan, design, construct and maintain the National Road network. SANRAL opted to carry out this mandate by outsourcing the design, construction and maintenance of the network, making use of private consulting firms and construction companies. SANRAL opted to be an “informed client” who would retain the planning, management and decision making capacity in-house.
SANRAL maintained the stance that asset preservation and management come first, so that planning and budgeting for the maintenance and preservation of the road network must be done before thinking of upgrades. Safety considerations for the roads must receive top priority. Law enforcement must be seen to be effected at all times. Overload control centres should be operational 24 hours a day.
In terms of the secondary strategic network the NDoT’s view is that SANRAL should extend its network to include approximately 14,000 km of secondary strategic network, currently provincial roads. In the Eastern Cape this includes the R56, R58, R62, R63, R67, R72 and R75. The Premier formally requested SANRAL to take over these routes in February 2012. The routes were then incorporated into the SANRAL network in May 2012. Takeover by SANRAL meant funds that had been spent on maintenance of these routes could be shifted to other roads in the Province.
He noted that all the active projects of SANRAL in the Eastern Cape are listed in the accompanying document of this report (see attached presentation for full details).
Mr Peterson said SANRAL is always willing to render assistance to the Province in as far as implementation of projects is concerned, as well as training of young engineers, technologists and technicians. SANRAL is implementing the following projects/programmes on behalf of the Province: Sabalele Upgrade; Rejuvenation of Selected Roads; Mthatha Ring Road; Mbashe selected rural roads; and rural roads of various municipalities.
In terms of the bypasses, some of the towns in the Eastern Cape experienced traffic congestion, particularly the smaller towns. The reason is usually a result of poor or non-existent traffic management and control. This is compounded by a lack of adequate public transport facilities like taxi ranks and bus/taxi bays. Failure to provide these facilities has resulted in motorists – both private and public – parking and stopping anywhere and everywhere, thus blocking thoroughfares. The specific issues related to each town were then explained as follows:
- In Mount Frere bypass possible routes have been identified. There are six options to be considered. Public participation is planned to commence in 2017. Trade-offs may be considered if the public participation process drags on for too long.
- For King Williams Town bypasses, a consulting firm will be appointed in July 2017 for a Route Location. This will be linked to the upgrade of the road between Bulembu Airport and Breidbach and it includes the Breidbach Interchange as well as the re-seal of R63 between King William’s Town and Bhisho. The Provincial Department of Roads and Public Works needs to take a decision as to whether the link road between Breidbach and Bhisho / Zwelitsha should form part of this project.
- In Butterworth and Idutywa bypasses in terms of public participation: Provincial EXCO & Infrastructure Cluster has already been informed. The process continues with the municipalities and communities in newspapers and adverts. Public participation meetings were held in both towns on 23 and 24 October 2012. The scoping report is now being considered by SANRAL.
- Qumbu has no need for a bypass. The road (N2) through the centre of town is wide enough to allow unrestricted flow of traffic. However, the failure of the municipality to provide public transport facilities ( like taxi ranks) has resulted in all modes of transport stopping and parking in the thoroughfare – thus restricting the flow of traffic. If the municipality provides the necessary taxi/bus ranks, then SANRAL will consider providing a dual carriageway (two lane in as well as two lanes out of town) for Qumbu.
- In Engcobo the constraints are possibly more due to poor traffic management within the town. Provision of the necessary facilities coupled with sound traffic management and control will alleviate the congestion. However, additional capacity in the form of additional lanes will be provided through town. SANRAL will also be upgrading a street within the town to link up with the R58 (road towards Cala/Elliot). There is no consideration of a bypass for this town at the moment.
Ms M Manopole (Northern Cape, ANC) welcomed the report from SANRAL. Although some progress was indicated, there remained some challenges on the bypass issues. She further noted that in the last year the Committee was informed that some kilometres in the Eastern Cape Province were supposed to have been given back to SANRAL, the province has not yet done so. She asked what the progress was on engagement on this issue, between the Province and SANRAL.
Ms Manopole felt that the presentation of SANRAL is too broad, and most of the roads that were mentioned in the petition are not reflected on the presentation. She asked how many roads are within the province and how many are controlled by SANRAL. The presenter said 60% of the roads in the province are in good condition.
Mr D Ximbi (Western Cape, ANC) welcomed the presentation and the progress report that SANRAL had made. He was happy about the bypass at Idutywa and Butterworth, and those at Libode and Port Saint Johns. However, he was worried about the road in Enyandeni Great Place, asking whether or not it fell under the province. There were small bridges and many children lost their lives there. He too questioned the exact numbers of roads given to SANRAL by the province.
Mr Ximbi said the province should come before this Committee and submit its presentation on these roads because nothing had yet been submitted.
Ms T Wana (Eastern Cape, ANC) asked for further comment in relation to the road at Enyandeni Great Place. She questioned what would happen if a petitioner was complaining about the bridges for practical purposes; namely whether it would be the Committee who should approach SANRAL.
Mr G Michalakis (Free State, DA) understood Mr Ximbi's point but disagreed because if a road is already transferred to SANRAL, it fell under SANRAL jurisdiction, so that the province cannot answer for the state of the road any longer. However, if there were bypasses, then clearly SANRAL and municipalities had to work together. The province needed to answer as to why, in the first place the entire provinces’ roads needed to be transferred to SANRAL, and what they were doing with the budget. He felt, in regard to the petition, that the province, having transferred the roads to SANRAL, was no longer responsible for answering on this particular petition, but he would still like to hear why the Eastern Cape was transferring everything to SANRAL. At what stage is the province going to take responsibility for its roads and resume its mandate?
Mr Peterson said SANRAL was requested to attend a meeting in Mthatha but unfortunately only SANRAL had attended and no other entities had turned up for that meeting. He said, however, that all the issues raised in this petition did in fact relate to the municipality and not to SANRAL. SANRAL had taken over 400 km of roads, but not those indicated by the petitioner. In respect of some of the bypass roads, SANRAL would need to have municipality resolutions, and it was, for instance, waiting for that in relation to the Mount Frere bypass.
Mr Peterson said that this province was responsible for surface roads, on the primary network and the secondary network. SANRAL did not know what is happening on the gravel roads. It was responsible for the R61 which is a surface road. It will be upgrading the roads from Nxumalo River to eNgcobo. He repeated that none of the issues related to SANRAL, but to the province and the municipality. He added that when SANRAL and the province had met with the Minister last year, it had requested further discussions with the MEC with regards to the issue of roads. There are 40 000 km roads in the province and 3 000 km of roads have been transferred to SANRAL.
The Chairperson asked which roads mentioned in the petition actually were under SANRAL control.
Mr Ximbi asked further whether SANRAL had addressed any issues as mentioned in the petition in respect of any roads over which it had control.
Mr Peterson emphasised again that not a single road mentioned in the petition was re-directed to SANRAL, and this included the gravel road, a surface road and even any bridge that were mentioned in the petition.
The Chairperson said the Committee would take note of the SANRAL issues as presented, although the roads mentioned in the petition were not involving SANRAL in any way.
Mr Michalakis asked why then the Committee had invited SANRAL; although the presentation had been very good it had not been relevant to this petition at all. The Committee should not invite presentations if they did not take the Committee's deliberations any further. He made the point that the province and the municipality must be called in because so far the Committee had not managed to do anything to actually address the petition. He further recommended that the Committee should, in its final recommendations, ask the Select Committee on Transport to investigate and deal with why the Eastern Cape provincial Department responsible for roads appeared to be in such disarray.
Ms Manopole asked whether the Committee was still deliberating on the SANRAL report, suggesting that the SANRAL presenters could be released.
The Chairperson responded that the Committee was still deliberating on the report of SANRAL; he reminded the Committee that SANRAL had been invited when the Committee had been in uMthatha.
The Content Adviser clarified that when the petitioner made his submissions he mistakenly assumed that some of the roads belong to SANRAL, which was why SANRAL had been invited to present. During the initial submission of SANRAL it gave undertakings on what it would do on certain roads and the Committee wanted to ensure that whatever was mentioned would be brought to the attention of the provincial government, along with the feedback on what SANRAL had done overall in the province.
The Chairperson asked what the working relationship is between SANRAL and the Eastern Cape Department of Roads and Transport, in order to clarify the challenges that would exist when addressing the roads that were raised in the petition.
Mr Peterson said SANRAL was, overall, working well with both the two departments responsible for roads and transport. Last week SANRAL met with the Departments of Roads and of Public Works. It would be important for SANRAL to be included in the meeting with the province and municipality because some of the issues may be clarified in the same venue.
The Chairperson concurred with that suggestion, saying that SANRAL, provincial and municipality input would complement the others.
The Chairperson thanked Mr Peterson for his presentation and said feedback will be made available to him in terms of the petition. He then noted that a further time would be scheduled and if necessary the Department and municipality would be disciplined for failure to attend if this continued.
Mr Michalakis asked if the Committee had received any response from the province and the municipality as to why they were not represented; if they had a good reason then the Committee needed to discuss that as well. The Committee could not continue without their input.
The Chairperson agreed and said that he would write to them. The issue had been ongoing since 2014 and much work had to be put into finalising it.
Africa Skills Petition: Continuation of hearing
The Chairperson reminded the Committee that this petition requested the intervention of the NCOP on the alleged ill-treatment of students, corruption and racism by Africa Skills FET College in the Western Cape Province.
Mr M Monakedi (ANC) asked whether it was appropriate that this petition should have been directed at the Provincial Legislature Petitions Committee before it came to the National Parliament. The petitioner had indicated that he was not seeking the intervention of the Provincial Government, and he wondered if it should not come to Parliament only if it had failed at provincial level.
Mr Michalakis agreed that this did not appear to fall within the jurisdiction of this Committee. Parliament should have a mechanism that could explain to petitioners to whom and where they should direct their grievances and seek relief. If the petitioner does fall within their jurisdiction Parliament should also be able to direct the petitioner to any other place where the grievances could be addressed. At the end of the day this Committee, in paying attention to these matters, was actually inadvertently delaying processes, and frustrating the public.
Ms Wana said that this point was no longer relevant in relation to this petition, because it had been referred to the Committee by the House Chairperson.
The Chairperson said the Committee had indeed received this petition from the House Chairperson and therefore had noted the petition. He suggested that it too needed urgent finalisation, having come to Parliament in 2015. The community, SETAs, Africa Skills College and other stakeholders had already made their oral submissions. However, given the time constraints today, another day would be scheduled to finalise the matter.
The meeting was adjourned.
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