The Department of Transport and the South Africa National Roads Agency Limited briefed the Committee on the provision of signage on routes to World Heritage Sites (WHS) and other sights of significance in SA.
They reported that all road signage had to be done in accordance with specific legislation that was in place ie National Road Traffic Act No 93 of 1996, the Regulations 2000 and the South African Road Traffic Signs Manual (SARTSM) and the Southern African Development Community Road Traffic Signs Manual (SADCRTSM). Tourism signage was considered to be secondary signage. The rule was that primary signage had to be displayed before secondary signage could be displayed. Tourism signage could not be displayed without having primary signage. The location of the facility was taken into consideration in determining where signage would be put up. All applications for signage had to be followed up with the relevant road authority which for national roads was the SANRAL, provincial roads the nine provinces and for municipal roads the eight metropolitan authorities as well as local municipalities.
The Committee had concerns about the lack of road signage to World Heritage Sites and other sites of significance to SA. Members were in agreement that there seemed to be a policy gap on the provision of tourism signage on roads. The DoT and the SANRAL to a large extent conceded that there was a policy gap and undertook to look into the issue. Members asked what the process entailed when the NDT and SA Tourism put in requests for tourism signage. Members felt that everyone needed to come to the party as tourism had been identified as a key driver for the South African economy. The DoT and the SANRAL was asked why the Bosch Hoek Golf Estate in KwaZulu-Natal had signage on the N3 when there was no signage for the Nelson Mandela Capture Site. Numerous requests had over the years been made for road signage to be put up for the Nelson Mandela Capture Site. The Nelson Mandela Capture Site was of huge significance to SA and to persons abroad. The Committee wanted answers as to why such an anomalous decision had been taken on the matter. The DoT and the SANRAL assured the Committee that the matter would be looked into. The Committee appreciated the assurance given but insisted that the matter be dealt with as a matter of urgency. The matter had been dragging on for the better part of ten years and members felt it high time that it was resolved. It had been a personal battle for Mr G Krumbock (DA) since the Nelson Mandela Capture Site fell within his constituency. He had been sent from pillar to post over a period of six years and now hoped that it would be resolved. The Committee asked to be provided with time frames on the progress made over the matter to ensure that the road signage was in place by 2018 for the centenary birthday celebrations of Mr Nelson Mandela. The point was made that tourism signage on roads in SA was essential. How else would tourists and South Africans know about and be directed to places of significance. There needed to be tourism signage on main roads like highways. Placing tourism signage on smaller access roads defeated the purpose as nobody saw it. Members pointed out that the problem was that tourism signage across SA had been dealt with in a very fragmented way because it was a concurrent function. The approach on signage differed from province to province. Members appreciated the fact that provinces needed to have a say but felt that national guidelines should be put in place. Members suggested that an audit be done on places of significance so that provinces could be provided with the tools to put up road signage. Signage was even lacking in small towns because municipalities were not delivering on their signage mandate. A toolkit was needed from national to local government level.
The Chairperson said that the Committee had concerns about the lack of road signage to World Heritage Sites and other sights of significance in the country. A more specific concern which the members had been lamenting about for years was the lack of road signage to the Nelson Mandela Capture Site near Howick in KwaZulu–Natal. Other places that lacked signage and proper roads were Isimangaliso Wetland Park and Mapungubwe National Park. Not only did signage provide directions to tourists but locals also became aware of what was on offer in their areas. Either way it was a win-win which boosted local economies.
Briefings by the Department of Transport (DoT) and the South Africa National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL)
The briefing was shared between Mr Garth Julius Project Manager SANRAL and Mr Msondezi Futshane Acting Chief Director: Road Engineering Standards DoT.
All road signage had to be done in accordance with specific legislation that was in place. These were the National Road Traffic Act No 93 of 1996, the Regulations 2000 and the South African Road Traffic Signs Manual (SARTSM) and the Southern African Development Community Road Traffic Signs Manual (SADCRTSM). SANRAL oversaw 22 000kms of national roads, provinces 220 000kms and the rest of the roads were the responsibilities of municipalities. The Committee was provided with insight into the Road Traffic Signs Manual and was shown examples of primary signage and secondary signage that was to be found on roads.
Tourism signage was considered to be secondary signage. A rule was that primary signage had to be displayed before secondary signage could be displayed. Tourism signage could not be displayed without having primary signage. Symbols were often used on signage to cut down on the amount of information on signs. A practical example in the Western Cape was that if one was driving on the N1 national road on route to Paarl there was the R44 that took one to Klapmuts. For arguments sake if a tourism facility was located near the R44 it would have a sign on the R44 and not on the N1 because it was close to the R44. The location of the facility was taken into consideration in determining where signage would be put up.
Relating to policy on signage extracts of the SADCRTSM was presented to members. It stated amongst other things that it was recommended that road and tourism authorities, and other acceptable tourism organisations and providers of services cooperate in connection with the erection of signs taking into consideration factors such as the standards of the facility in question, the quality of services and the need for the tourism sign to an established road user. Tourism signs would be provided at the discretion of the relevant road authority after consultation with representatives of a formalised structure created to facilitate the processing of applications by tourist facility operators for tourism signs.
Members were informed that the Committee of Transport Officials (COTO) as well as the Route Numbering & Road Traffic Signs Committee (RNRTSC) had been interacting with the National Department of Tourism (NDT). The DoT had also been part of the Tourism Task Team and had responded to tourism parliamentary queries on behalf of the NDT. All applications for signage had to be followed up with the relevant road authority which for national roads was the SANRAL, provincial roads the nine provinces and for municipal roads the eight metropolitan authorities as well as local municipalities. There were instances where the SANRAL had to collaborate with local authorities where a national road passed through a town.
Ms P Adams (ANC) said that there seemed to be a policy gap on the provision of tourism signage on roads. If Mr Julius was part of the Tourism Task Team she asked what his mandate in regards to the DoT and SANRAL was. She asked how he communicated inputs to the DoT. She asked what the DoT did about requests for signage by the NDT and SA Tourism. Everyone needed to come to the party. Tourism was important to SA. Its importance was even stressed in the recent Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS).
Mr G Krumbock (DA) agreed with Ms Adams that there was a policy gap. Tourism signage was considered secondary signage and symbols were used to keep the amount of information on the board to a minimum. He referred to the example given in the briefing of a signboard on the N1 national road. He pointed out that there were eleven things on the sign. It was a great deal of information. This was strange to him as no provision could be made for the Nelson Mandela Capture Site on national road signage near Howick, KwaZulu - Natal. He understood that there was a requirement that there should first be primary signage before tourism-secondary signage could be put up. He asked why petrol stations included on N1 primary signage were. Petrol stations were after all privately owned profit making organisations. The policy gap was also that tourism signage was put up on access roads where no one looked. They should be on national roads. He asked why a golf course was included on signage on the N3 national road near the Nelson Mandela Capture Site. Yet the Capture Site was not on the signage. Was the golf course a National Heritage Site or a World Heritage Site? Was the golf course allowed in terms of legislation? He asked whether the golf course being so to say advertised on a national road was appropriate.
Mr Julius responded that it was difficult to speak to the golf course issue without knowing full details. He did say that any tourist attraction or guest house could get signage if there was direct access from national roads.
Mr Krumbock continued that the Bosch Hoek Golf Estate had signage on the N3. He had brought along a photo of the signage to show the Committee. It was a private golf estate. How could Bosch Hoek get signage on the N3? He did point out that he did not have anything against the Bosch Hoek Golf Estate. He asked how the SANRAL could have agreed to signage for the golf estate but not for the Nelson Mandela Capture Site. The Capture site was of such great international significance because of Mr Mandela’s contribution to SA. He said that he had been for the past six years been trying to get signage on the N3 for the Capture Site. He wanted an explanation on why an anomalous decision had been taken on this. A golf course was allowed but not the Nelson Mandela Capture Site.
Mr Futshane noted the concerns raised by members. The matter would be looked into. There was a committee in place to deal with these types of issues. There was also a Road Coordinating Body consisting of the DoT, the NDT, the SANRAL, provinces, municipalities and the South African Local Government Association (SALGA). The matter raised by members could be put on the agenda. Most tourism related issues were resolved by officials themselves and did not get bumped up to that level. He explained that there was a manual which set out guidelines. The manual had legal status. The manual had however been compiled in 1997 and perhaps it was time for it to be revised. The manual needed to keep up with the times. The matter raised would be taken forward. He said that the configuration of signage need not be clustered but had to tell the story.
Mr Krumbock appreciated that there were various committees or stakeholders that could contribute towards resolving the issue but it was for this very reason that the matter got stalled. There were too many committees and stakeholders in the process which did not allow anything to progress. Stalling had happened over many years. It’s almost been a decade and no progress had been made. The then Minister of Tourism Mr Derek Hanekom had taken the issue on board but now he was no longer around.
Mr Julius agreed to revisit the issues mentioned by members. Tourism was a sensitive issue. Tourism signage was often seen as advertising. People even applied for their bed & breakfasts to be placed on signs as Table Mountain was. The reality was that tourism signage was road signage and had to meet prescripts. Tourism signage was symbol based. Allowances were made for 12 bits of information on tourism signage. There were technical issues on the design of tourism signage. There were guidelines and restrictions on what could go on signage. He noted that local tourism route development was done. Local tourism authorities had applied to SANRAL for signage. He reiterated that the issue of signage at the Nelson Mandela Capture site would be dealt with.
Mr Krumbock appreciated Mr Julius’ willingness to look into the matter. The point was noted about everyone wishing to advertise their businesses on signage. One did not want the situation where there was signage every 50 metres on a road. The issue at hand was not about advertising. The Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (DCOGTA) had invested R100m in the Nelson Mandela Capture Site. It was a government site and a place of reconciliation. Looking at the Bosch Hoek sign he observed that it was about two bits of information. He proposed that the Nelson Mandela Capture Site just be added to the same sign. If it was done then the sign would in total have six bits of information. It was much less than the 12 bits of information that was contained on the sign shown during the presentation. Signage for the Nelson Mandela Capture Site was needed now. The proposal would be a quick fix. He in no way blamed the people of Bosch Hoek in any way for having a sign up. The only problem he had was why the golf course could have a sign on the highway and the Nelson Mandela Capture Site not. Having a sign on the R103 access road was not good enough. He suggested that in the manual a provision should be included which allowed for a transcending assessment to be done. Even if there was a secondary road, a sign should be provided on the national road if the secondary road to a site was too far for tourists to notice the signage. He noted that the entire Committee was in agreement that the Nelson Mandela Capture Site was iconic and that the matter was of urgency. It should be prioritised as the process around it had been going around in circles. A solution needed to be found.
Mr Futshane stated that if there was a policy gap the manual needed to be revised.
The Chairperson stated that the N3 in KwaZulu–Natal did have signage for iconic places like the Drakensberg Mountain Range. So it should not be a problem to put up signage for the Nelson Mandela Capture Site. It was a matter that needed to be addressed. It should be brought up at the Forum of South African Director Generals (FOSAD). She also pointed out that the road leading to the Mapungubwe World Heritage Site was in a bad state. She did understand that it was a provincial competency. Coming back to the Nelson Mandela Capture Site she said that the world wished to see where Nelson Mandela had been captured.
Mr Futshane agreed to take the matter of the Nelson Mandela Capture Site forward. Tourism needed to be reflected in the plans of government. On roads there was an Access Road Development Plan. The NDT could be invited to the forum. Municipalities would also be present.
Ms E Masehele (AN C) agreed with members that tourism signage was important. Tourists wished to visit sites and had to be directed through signage on how to get there. Signage should be on highways and not on smaller access roads where nobody could see them. Tourism signage had to be on main roads. Roads that led to World Heritage Sites were an issue that also needed addressing.
Mr Futshane said that municipalities and provinces needed to prioritise roads that led to World Heritage Sites and iconic sites. They were after all responsible for implementation.
Mr J Vos (DA) pointed out that tourism signage across SA had been dealt with in a very fragmented approach because it was a concurrent function. World Heritage Sites were key for the tourism landscape. On signage everyone needed to be on the same page. Signage was a necessity for tourists. How else would they find places of attraction? He understood that provinces should have a say on signage but national guidelines needed to be in place. It was unacceptable for there to be a haphazard approach from province to province. When tourists travelled on roads they were not even sometimes aware that they had traversed provinces. A national set of standards was needed. There had to be conformity. Tourism was after all the new gold in SA. Signage attracted tourist to different destinations. He proposed that an audit be done on all places of significance. This would prevent a golf course taking precedence over an iconic site like the Nelson Mandela Capture Site. The audit would provide information on places of national significance and then provinces could be provided with tools to put up signage. A uniform approach was needed. This could be done through an audit. Signage was a huge benefit for destination enhancement. Even municipalities did not deliver on their signage mandate. Small towns especially lacked signage. A toolkit was needed from national to local government level. He also raised the issue of Aquila Private Game Reserve having made application for signage.
Mr Futshane supported the idea of an audit of places of significance. Branding and standardisation across provinces could be covered in the manual. All these types of issues would be taken up with political principals.
Mr Julius conceded that there was a gap in policy on sites of significance. It was a shortcoming. It had to be remembered that the SANRAL only had a say on national roads. A collaborative approach with provinces was needed. A discussion forum could be convened. The Nelson Mandela Capture Site could be prioritised. Other sites could also be considered. Safety and mobility on public roads was important. Legislative requirements had to be abided to. There was scope to address shortcomings in the manual.
He said that the Aquila application had been considered. The application had approved signage for the R46 but not for the N1 national road.
Mr Vos, on the Aquila issue, asked whether this too could be a gap in policy. People did not travel on the R46 any longer. People used the N1. The Aquila Private Game Reserve had won many awards and was a tourism asset. He asked whether allowances could be made for this scenario.
Mr Julius responded that if Aquila was allowed signage on the N1 then what stopped a farm stall or a bed & breakfast from applying for signage as well. If things were opened up then road networks would be covered in signage.
Ms S Xego (ANC) noted that she had not known that tourism signage was secondary. Government had identified tourism as a driver to boost the economy of SA. Places of significance were not accessible because of a lack of signage. She too agreed that there was a gap in policy. The Task Team that had been alluded to should address the policy gap. The DoT and the SANRAL had to look at the issue.
The Chairperson asked the NDT if they wished to say something.
Ms Shamillar Chettiar Deputy Director General: Destination Development, NDT, said that the discussions with the SANRAL and the DoL were welcomed. She too agreed that the issue of signage for the Nelson Mandela Capture site was a gap in policy. Given the significance of the Site it should be treated differently than usual tourism establishments. The NDT would meet with the SANRAL and the DoT to come up with a solution. 2018 was after all the Mr Nelson Mandela’s centenary birthday celebration year. She pointed out that there was a lack of signage at iconic, heritage and World Heritage Sites in the broader context.
Mr Krumbock suggested to the presenters to do an onsite visit to the Nelson Mandela Capture Site. He would be willing to take them on a personal tour. He proposed that the Committee take a resolution to set up a meeting and to come up with a solution. As previously stated the temporary solution was to use the existing sign of the Bosch Hoek Golf Estate to add the Nelson Mandela Capture Site to it. He fully understood that signs could not be provided for all tourism establishments but for attractions of national and international significance exceptions should be made. He asked that the matter de dealt with in haste so that signage could be in place by 2018 for the centenary birthday celebrations of Mr Nelson Mandela.
Mr Julius stated that there were requirements for bed & breakfasts to get signage. The warrant structure was taken into consideration. Places of continental significance were also taken into account when it came to signage.
The Chairperson asked that timeframes be provided to the Committee on efforts so that it could be ensured that the signage for the Nelson Mandela Capture Site would be up by 2018 in time for the centenary birthday celebrations. She pointed out that in provinces there was signage that was irregular. She had on one occasion seen signage advertising shebeens when she could not even find a sign giving directions to a hospital that she was looking for.
The meeting was adjourned.
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