The Department of Transport (DOT) briefed the Committee on the National Land Transport Amendment Bill, and provided responses to submissions by the City of Cape Town’s Transport and Urban Development Authority (TDA), the Cape Organisation for a Democratic Taxi Association (CODETA), UBER, and transport consultant Philip van Ryneveld. Parliamentary and state legal services also presented legal opinions on a submission by the City of Cape Town.
A highlight of the meeting was the finding by the legal services team that the Bill was constitutionally sound. In the proposed amendments, full power was given to municipalities regarding new licences. It was stated that there must be a flow between municipalities and the national authorities for better efficiency, along with monitoring by the Department. Both the DOT and the Committee agreed that all taxi and Uber drivers should have valid licences to operate on roads. Uber South Africa Technology (Pty) Ltd proposed that e-hailing be addressed as a new section under 66A, but the Department and the Committee rejected this request, stating that it was more appropriate to keep it within a sub-category of the metered taxi service category.
The Committee asked questions about ministerial guidelines applying to municipalities which could cause bureaucratic problems and possibly encroach on municipal powers. The legal team presented legal opinions responding to these concerns, and advised that municipal powers were not encroached upon.
The meeting was to be continued the following day due to time constraints.
The Acting Chairperson said the aim of the meeting was to obtain advice from the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Parliamentary and state legal services on the submissions received on the National Land Transport Amendment (NLTA) Bill.
Department of Transport: Responses on submissions
Mr Hament Patel, Assistant Director General: Department of Transport, read the responses to comments submitted to the Portfolio Committee on the NLTA Bill without any alternations.
The presentation covered submissions from the City of Cape Town’s Transport and Urban Development Authority (TDA), the Cape Organisation for a Democratic Taxi Association (CODETA), UBER and Philip van Ryneveld.
City of Cape Town
The main focus of the submission from the City of Cape Town’s TDA was centred on the powers regarding the municipal and national spheres in relation to the allocation of licences. The amendments stipulated that the National Minister had the power to set guidelines and criteria for the performance of municipalities to allocate taxi licences. The TDA sought clarity regarding the responsibility for awarding contracts and licences to operators. It proposed the responsibility for concluding these contracts should rest with the metropolitan governments for efficiency, and to avoid encroachment on municipal powers. It was further proposed that cities should not have to re-qualify for this responsibility.
The Department had responded with a proposed new section 11(10) which empowered the Minister to prescribe/direct the process of transition and initiate initiatives where needed. It was further proposed by the Department that where municipalities already had contracts in place, those contracts should remain valid and that these municipalities would have full contracting responsibilities without having to qualify in terms of the envisaged regulations.
CODETA’s submissions requested the Department to improve capacity building within the sector, and to address and dismantle monopolies of parastatal and municipal transport operators. It also stressed that the national government should be aware that arrangements being entered into at the municipal level provided a challenge for taxi operators to integrate into the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system.
The Department had responded that authorities would focus on benefiting small and previously disadvantaged operators.
Uber South Africa Technology (Pty) Ltd proposed that e-hailing be addressed as a new section under 66A.
The Department had rejected this request and stated that it was more appropriate to keep it within a sub-category of the metered taxi service category. The Department also added that the principle Act required that all Uber drivers had to hold a valid operating licence, and that operating without this would lead to abuses.
Philip van Ryneveld
The submissions from transport consultant, Philip van Ryneveld, focused on the same argument as City of Cape Town’s TDA, which feared that awarding more power to the Minister would encroach on the powers of municipal governments.
The Department responded in the same manner as to the City of Cape Town’s TDA submissions, and stated that the Parliamentary Legal Services would provide a legal opinion on the matter.
Mr C Hunsinger (DA) said the NLTA was identified as a framework document, and not as a regulatory framework. He welcomed the opportunity to get more consideration for a land transport framework incorporating a focus on getting weight off the road and on to the rail. He asked that conditions for improving overall transport in the future to be shared. In clause 1b in the document presented, the competence of a municipality to implement a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system had been recognised. He asked consideration to be given to concerns that the requirements could trigger power struggles.
Mr Hunsinger said the BRT presentation of various cities during 2017 had resulted in a situation where few cities had commented, and where there had been little progress. In the analysis of the 13 cities, discrepancies were seen in the cities’ budget requests and expenditure. Cities had since 2005 under or over-calculated projects. He said engagements should be supportive and the criteria for BRT systems needed to be reviewed.
Mr Hunsinger noted on clause 7m, the issuing of directives, the line of thinking from the DOT indicated a failure to perform. He asked what those elements would consist of, and to include examples.
Mr Hunsinger in reaction to clause 27, section 47, subsection 1, said the situation regarding taxis and the lapsing of licences had been identified as being problematic, and a better arrangement should be provided.
Mr Hunsinger referred to the taxi industry being bought into the BRT system. He said there had been a variety of incorporations, with taxis being involved in feeder routes and BRT systems on trunk routes. He added that there was a lot of fear within the taxi industry regarding incorporation of the routes having to with exclusion. He noted a future framework could be better arranged. This should not only be left to municipalities, and should be structured in a more effective manner.
Mr Hunsinger said he agreed with the Department’s rejection of Uber’s request.
Mr G Radebe (ANC) referred to the payment lapses after seven years, and asked the Department not to block disadvantaged drivers. Full power had been given to municipalities regarding new licences. There had to be a flow between municipalities and the national authorities for better efficiency.
Mr Radebe asked the DOT how far they were with the tender processes for the BRT, as hiccups had to be avoided.
The Chairperson commented that all the individuals who submitted that they wanted to operate, needed to have a licence.
The Chairperson noted the example of the Moloto Corridor which falls under the management of two provinces and eight municipalities, and asked how bureaucratic structures would deal with this. He said the Committee supported national control in the Moloto Corridor to avoid bureaucratic problems and recognised that implementation would be a challenge and had to be monitored.
Mr Patel said the Department agreed with the comments on implementation problems, and that was why clauses which stated that the National Minister could implement directives had been included. The Department agreed that no one could operate without a valid licence. He concurred that the budget was limited and that a 5% budget cut had been implemented in the BRT systems, along with monitoring. Workshops with municipalities had been initiated to ensure better operations. It was stressed that all systems were to be fully operational, not just on trunk roads, to be able to service all users. Regarding tenders for BRT national contracts, the Department confirmed that it was aiding municipalities. It was also setting up a technical team to aid registrations, for which it had received funding.
Mr Patel explained section 11 of the principal Act defined the powers of all actors. The purpose of providing power to local municipalities was to ensure that local systems could function optimally. He said on the seven-year payments that were alleged to have lapsed, it was responded that they had not lapsed. All taxi drivers with indefinite licences were still allowed to operate.
Mr Patel said the Department had noted the trunk routes versus feeder routes inclusion, as proposed by the members. The legislative framework made room for operators to be included. He added the DOT proposed the criteria for municipalities should run across various provinces and that section 11b be amended, where the Minister would be able regulate and issue directives.
Mr Patel said the authority of local governments had been left to the legal team to discuss. When the National Land Act (NLA) was formulated in 2008, it had been very dense. The final Act had been stipulated as being the main framework, vertically and horizontally. With respect to rail issues, a draft White Paper had been drafted by the Department. Once that policy had been approved, then it would be added in the Road and Rail Act.
Mr Neville Dingle, Advisor to the Department of Transport, elaborated on the issue of concurrent functions and contracts. Section 1a, b and c stipulated concurrent functions of the different spheres of government. On the issue of contracts, such as bus contracts with Golden Arrow into which the Department had entered, in the Act it had been transferred to be administered by municipalities. This had taken more time than expected. The Department in 2009 had set up Public Transport Integration Committees (PTICs) in each province, which had resulted in different rates of progress. What the Department was most concerned about was the gap in service delivery and funding. The Public Transport Operations Grant (PTOG) was awarded to provinces, and municipalities were awarded the Public Transport Network Grant (PTNG). The allocation of functions depended on what money was being given to whom. If there were gaps, the Bill would empower the Minister to act where necessary.
Briefing by legal team
Ms Noluthando Mpikashe, Parliamentary Legal Adviser, briefed the Committee on the legal queries regarding the Bill. (See attached document).
Ms Mpikashe said the Committee had requested Legal Services to provide an opinion on a submission from the City of Cape Town. The legal question pertained to spheres of government, contending that the province and municipalities’ authority was undermined due to a new clause which provided the Minister with the power to set municipal requirements regarding taxi licence criteria. The Parliamentary Legal Services had found the Bill constitutionally sound.
Ms Bongiwe Lufuno, Principal State Law Adviser, agreed with this interpretation, and said that the legal team disagreed with the City of Cape Town.
Mr A Matsondo (ANC) said he was uncertain as to what was to be discussed, as Members did not have copies of the legal opinion.
Mr Radebe asked for paragraph 18 in the document to be clarified.
Mr Hunsinger thanked the legal team for the opinion. He suggested the comment regarding the constitutionality of the Bill was far stretched. He asked for an extension of the opinion regarding the status of existing contracts.
Ms Lufuno said the main issues which were raised had to do with the constitutionality raised by the City of Cape Town. The main concerns of the City of Cape Town were that they were subject to criteria set up by the Minister, along with non-compliance, and that it encroached on their powers as a province. State legal advice was that this was constitutional and that there was nothing wrong with the provision. Another issue raised was about contracts that had been in place, and that the municipality had been performing duties as stipulated. This was not going to be changed by the Minister due to the criteria. She recommended that the Committee should look to where the proposed provisions would apply practically, as there already were existing contracts and the City of Cape Town was performing its function well.
The Chairperson said the meeting would be continued the following day, due to time constraints.
The meeting was adjourned.
- National Land Transport Amendment Bill [B7B-16]: amendments suggested by DOT pursuant to public hearings on 28/11/17
- National Land Transport Amendment Bill, 2016: proposed Amendments
- National Land Transport Amendment Bill, 2016: Response to comments submitted to Committee of Transport on NLTA Bill as amended [B7B-16]
- National Land Transport Amendment Bill, 2016: Response to comments submitted to Committee of Transport on NLTA Bill as amended and advertised for comment [B7B-16]
- National Land Transport Amendment Bill: Comments submitted and Responses by Department of Transport on the Bill
- National Land Transport Amendment Bill: legal opinion
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