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TRANSPORT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
21 May 2003
NATIONAL PORTS AUTHORITY BILL: BRIEFING BY DEPARTMENT
Chairperson: Mr J Cronin (ANC)
Documents handed out:
National Ports Authority Bill [B5-2003]
The Department of Transport briefed the Committee on amendments to the National Ports Authority Bill. The Committee had previously convened hearings on the Bill and the Department had considered the concerns raised around four points in particular: the ports regulator, off-shore cargo-handling facilities, restructuring and reform in the Maydon Wharf area and the Ports Consultative Committee. The Chairperson tentatively suggested a process of public hearings on the Bill.
Mr Dumisani Ntuli: Department of Transport, submitted the changes to the Bill which the Committee had requested two months ago. He commented on some of the general issues in the Bill.
Chapter 1, Clause 2 deals with the objects of the Bill, which is to create a process for the incorporation of the Authority. Transnet will be geared to act as the ports authority until incorporation of an independent body.
Chapter 2, providing for the establishment and Incorporation of the Authority, shows a timeline for the incorporation. The Authority will act as a private company with share capital. It also provides that Transnet will relinquish any assets, liabilities, rights and obligations in respect of its role as interim authority, to the newly incorporated Ports Authority. The Minister of Transport is subsequently empowered to take action, should that incorporation not come to fruition through the process provided for, and form the Authority.
The Chairperson commented that these changes mean that a period of incorporation is now possible with the involvement of Transnet, and will not be occurring outside of Transnet.
Mr S Farrow (DA) requested a flow chart from the Department, showing the incorporation process, to graphically illustrate what happens where along the process.
Briefing by Department
Mr Ntuli then briefed the Committee on the changes effected to the Bill since the process of public hearings.
Mr Ntuli read amendments to Chapter 5 of the Act, the major points being:
-Provisions of the Regulator were not well defined.
-It makes tariffs subject to the Regulator.
-The Regulator is empowered to hear appeals against the Authority.
-The Regulator may review decisions made by the Authority.
-Provision is made for a Chief Executive Officer to oversee the running of the Regulator.
-Outlines a process for meeting and minutes.
-Concedes that the role of the Regulator may extend beyond the incorporation period.
Off-shore cargo-handling facilities
The amendments to Chapter 6, Clause 66 bring all cargo-handling facilities, be they off-shore or not, into the framework of the Bill without compromising current stakeholders.
Restructuring and reform in the Maydon Wharf area
Chapter 6, Clause 67, is now made less specific. Instead of referring only to the Maydon Wharf area, it now includes all ports. This has been changed due to an outcry over draconian legislation as an effort to improve the safety, efficiency and effectiveness of South Africa's ports.
Port Consultative Committee
Chapter 11, Clause 82, allows a Port Consultative Committee in each port, with a National Port Consultative Committee acting in oversight.
Mr G Schneemann (ANC) asked for confirmation that the Regulator is indeed an interim body.
Mr Ntuli said that the Regulator is intended for the period of incorporation only, with the possibly of extending some functions as needed.
Mr S Farrow (DA) asked whether having the Regulator is not opening up the possibility for corruption, by allowing donor funding.
Mr Ntuli agreed, and conceded that the Regulator should be wholly independent, and he undertook to look into the issue further.
Mr R Ainslie (ANC) asked at what point in the incorporation process the Regulator would cease to exist.
Mr Ntuli said that at the end of the second phase, when the authority moves out of Transnet, the Regulator may be dissolved.
In closing, Mr Cronin proposed public hearings on the Bill, and suggested that Transnet and the National Ports Authority be approached for submissions.
The meeting was adjourned.
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