The meeting was convened to deliberate on the National Land Transport Amendment Bill [B7-2016]. However, the Bill was not deliberated on because it contained further amendments which had been suggested by a Member of the Executive Committee (MEC), and which Members had agreed should be included in the Bill.
Given that these further amendments were not part of the Bill on which the public had commented, it was advised that it should be re-published for public comment. A motion which proposed sending the Bill back to the stakeholders who had commented on the first draft was rejected, because such an approach was viewed as favouritism and exclusive. Members agreed that the Bill should be published in the Government Gazette so that it could reach the community at large.
The Chairperson opened the meeting by stating that she was unhappy with Members who came late and who placed her in a situation where she had no other choice but to accept their apologies. As a result, the meeting had to start behind schedule. She took their coming late as a serious offence. She stressed that those who came late would be reported to their Chief Whips, in particular, those of the EFF and ANC.
National Land Transport Amendment Bill [B7-2016]
The Chairperson said that she would ask the Department of the Transport to take the Committee through the Bill and after that exercise, it would deliberate on it. She reminded Members that during the public hearings, a Member of the Executive Committee (MEC) had come up with relevant clauses, and the Committee had agreed that such clauses should be included in the Bill. There were two ways in which such clauses could be included in the Bill -- to go to stakeholders who commented on the Bill and solicit their views on the new clauses, or to publicise clauses for general public comments.
Mr M de Freitas (DA) supported the second option. He said that the Bill should be publicised for public comments.
Mr C Hunsinger (DA) seconded, and Mr L Ramatlakane (ANC) seconded.
The chairperson said that the Members were in consensus that the Bill should be published for public comments. She asked how long it would take to publish it.
Ms Valerie Carelse, Secretary to the Committee, responded that it would follow the same process as indicated in the Interim Report. It would be published that day in the Announcements, Tablings and Committees (ATC) and the publication would be approved by the House.
Mr Jits Patel, Chief Director: Public Transport Regulation, said that the Department fully supported the Interim Report. However, it would like to draw the attention of the Committee to page 14, in particular section 12(4). He said that the section was already covered in the principal Act. It would be useful to remove it to avoid duplication.
The Chairperson asked the Parliamentary legal advising team if they agreed with the Department.
The Parliamentary legal advisors agreed.
The Chairperson asked Members if they could deliberate on the Interim Report irrespective of the fact that it would be delayed by the publication of the Bill for public comments.
Ms Carelse said that the timeline for publication would be at the end of October.
The Chairperson said that the Bill would be published for all stakeholders to provide their inputs and asked whether they should go back to those stakeholders who had specifically commented on the first draft of the Bill. If it was published, the same people would comment on it. Should a letter be sent to them to state that their comments were needed. This would not stop the Bill from being published for public comments.
Mr De Freitas agreed. He commented that stakeholders should be inclusive and the publication should reach a wide community.
Mr Ramatlakane said that he had a difficulty with this approach, because it appeared to target those stakeholders who had met the deadline. There were those who wanted to comment, but had not met the deadline. This group should be denied the opportunity to comment. Most importantly, no one should be targeted. The Bill should simply be published for public comments. The Committee would work on the basis of the comments that would be submitted. It would not matter who submitted those comments.
Mr M Sibande (ANC) agreed. He said that the Committee should avoid unnecessary challenges. The Committee should also work around the timeframe. The publication should be open to everybody to submit his or her comments. The timeframe of publication and receiving comments should be made clear.
Mr T Mulaudzi (EFF) said that the publication should broadly consider the public.
Mr De Freitas remarked that he could foresee neither challenges nor criticisms. Comments being solicited were merely additional. There should be no criticism. People should rather congratulate the Committee for giving them another opportunity to voice their concerns about the Bill.
The Chairperson commented that the Bill would be out there for two weeks for public comments. The public at large should take note that it was a second round of public comments. She cautioned that there would be those who would come to the Committee for oral submissions and these people should not be allowed to take the Committee back. She was convinced that those who made their oral submissions would build up from their previous submissions.
Mr Ramatlakane stressed that no letter should be sent to those who had participated in the first round of oral submissions, as others might ask why they had not received such letters. They would ask why they had been excluded. It was safe to publish the Bill in the Government Gazette and wait for inputs from the public. In this way, no one would claim that there was favouritism. Favouritism would create challenges.
The Chairperson agreed.
Mr Patel said that the Department had taken the liberty of including the suggested clause in the Bill, and the Bill would be circulated to Members for consideration. The Bill would be sent out for public comments.
The Chairperson sought clarity on whether the current form of the Bill included the clauses in question.
Mr Patel said it did.
Mr Ramatlakane said that he agreed with the Department’s proposal. He asked why the Parliamentary Legal Advisors had not picked up on time that the Bill should be published. Why had it taken two months to state that there were clauses in the Bill that had not been published?
Mr De Freitas sought clarity on whether the MEC’s comments were included.
Mr Patel said that the MEC’s comments were included.
Adv Alma Nel, Parliamentary Legal Advisor, responded that Members had been busy with the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) Amendment Bill. They had indicated that they would focus on the one Bill, as they did not want to mix issues and get confused. They had wanted to finish the first Bill before they would move on to the next one. The delay was therefore not deliberate, because Members had been dealing with another Bill. Members had agreed to the programme, including when this Bill would be dealt with. It was important for the MEC’s comments to be included in the Bill and commented on. The question of re-publication was the Committee’s decision, which was why the proposal had come in now.
The Chairperson agreed.
The Chairperson said that during the oversight visit to Springbok, there had been communities that had come to brief the Committee on related transportation challenges. The Committee would draft a report to submit to the House to state what was happening there. The oversight visit had been important.
Members planned how they would conduct future oversight visits, including to Springbok, to see whether the decision taken had been implemented. By the time they went there, the road would have been constructed.
The Committee also discussed its future engagements with regard to the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRT), and its proposed visit to Brazil.
The meeting was adjourned.
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