The Committee was provided with insight into the National Land Transport Amendment Bill. Members were given some background on the Bill as well as the reasons behind the need for the Bill. Some of the main reasons for the Bill were that there was a need for some of the contracting arrangements for public transport requiring revision. The functions of the spheres of government were clarified and the administrative arrangements for operating licences were streamlined. The Bill also made provision for electronic hailing (e-hailing) services. The Committee was given an overview of areas in the Bill under which clauses fell with a brief explanation on each amendment brought on by the clauses.
The Acting Chairperson said that he hoped the legislation would have a positive impact on persons who used public transport. Members were pleased that issues between Uber and meter taxis had been sorted as not too long ago there had been a great deal of violence. Members observed that the taxi recapitalisation programme was a long time coming. The Department was asked what was happening on scrapping allowances. Members were concerned about government having to continuously subsidise the taxi recapitalisation programme. Was there a plan in place to deal with the issue? Members felt it high time that owners of taxis take some responsibility instead of relying on the government subsidy. Members welcomed the amendments that aimed to deal with the phenomenon of e-hailing. The legislation however needed to clarify whether a taxi should be using an application or a meter. According to the Department the taxi operator had the option of using both. The problem came in when one had to classify an Uber or Taxify taxi. Members felt that a single operator could not use both an application and a meter. It should be one or the other. There would be infringements of each others’ terrain. The legislation called upon taxis to stick to their routes but Uber taxis had no specified routes. Uber drivers could pick up customers along the routes of other taxi drivers. Routes for Uber and Taxify needed to be clarified. Operating licences needed to state what routes were. Members were concerned as to whether municipalities would have the funds and capacity to constitute regulatory authorities. What was the Department putting in place to ensure that municipalities had the necessary capacity? The Department was asked at what level planning was supposed to happen. Was it to be at national, provincial or local level? Members highlighted the frustrations of people in rural areas around transport. Members was concerned that in some provinces like the Eastern Cape there were buses gathering dust whilst their owners were still being paid by government for providing a transport service. The Department was asked whether it monitored these types of things. Members observed that the briefing had not said anything about having consulted the Congress of Traditional Leaders of SA (Contralesa) and the House of Traditional Leaders. The Department was also asked whether complaints around public transport especially from rural areas ever reached the Minister of Transport. The briefing had also been silent around the issue of safety of public transport. Concerns were raised that women were being raped on buses. The Department was asked how it monitored the speed with which the processing of operating licences was done. Complaints were that the process took too long. Members also raised concerns around scholar transport. The safety of kids being transported was utmost and it was shocking that in some areas kids were being transported on the back of bakkies. During harvesting season farm workers too were transported on the back of trucks. The numbers of people injured and killed on roads had to be drastically reduced and it was hoped that the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) Bill too would address some of the concerns that members had. Members on regulation and planning asked who was placed first, was it the technocrats or the people on the ground who were affected. Members insisted that those affected should be consulted. Communities needed to own the regulations that the Minister of Transport was to issue. More consultation needed to be done. The Acting Chairperson pointed out that it was also the responsibility of members to hold public hearings in the provinces. Traditional leaders should also be taken on board. Members also felt it not good enough for the Minister of Transport to come up with regulations on passenger safety; it ought to be included in the Bill.
Election of Acting Chairperson
Mr E Makue (ANC, Gauteng) was elected as Acting Chairperson of the Committee.
Briefing by Department of Transport on the National Land Transport Amendment Bill
Mr Hament Patel, Chief Director, Department of Transport, provided the Committee with insight into the National Land Transport Amendment Bill.
Members were given some background on the Bill as well as the reasons behind the need for the Bill. Some of the main reasons for the Bill were that there was a need for some of the contracting arrangements for public transport requiring revision. The functions of the spheres of government were clarified and the administrative arrangements for operating licences were streamlined. The Bill also made provision for electronic hailing (e-hailing) services. The Committee was given an overview of areas in the Bill under which clauses fell with a brief explanation on each amendment brought on by the clauses.
Definitions - Clause 1
Functions of the Minister - Clause 2
The Clause required of the Minister of Transport to promote measures to ensure the safety of pedestrians and passengers.
Regulations by the Minister - Clause 3
Clause 3(a) for instance gave the Minister of Transport the power to make regulations on the process of offering alternative services to operators to be expanded.
Functions of Members of Executive Councils (MECs) - Clause 4
Provided that annual reports by MECs had to include prescribed information
Regulations by MECs - Clause 5
Clause 5(a) provided for an MEC to make regulations on colour coding and branding of vehicles, subject to regulations made by the Minister of Transport.
Accessible Transport and Non Motorised Transport (NMT) - Clause 6
The new clause was to promote accessible transport and NMT.
Responsibilities of spheres of government - Clause 7
Clause 7(b) provided for powers for provinces to conclude contracts for dedicated scholar services.
Provincial Transport Authorities - Clause 8
The Clause made provision for provinces to pass legislation to establish a provincial entity as a province-wide transport authority in agreement with relevant municipalities.
Impartiality - Clause 9
Clause 9 provided that members of the South African Police Services (SAPS), traffic officers and metro police be included in the list of persons who are precluded from having a financial or business interest in the public transport industry.
Intermodal Planning Committees (IPCs) - Clause 10
One of the provisions of the Clause was that IPCs had to be established by a date to be prescribed by the Minister of Transport.
Municipal Regulatory Entities (MREs) - Clauses 11 and 12
The amendments proposed were of a consequential nature and clarified that MREs would be responsible for services only within their municipal area.
National Public Transport Regulator (NPTR) - Clauses 13 and 14
Clause 13 provided more detail on the appointment and administrative arrangements for the NPTR. Clause 14 amongst others dealt with new duties for the NPTR to deal with passenger complaints and to advise the Minister of Transport on the treatment of passengers etc.
Provincial Regulatory Entities (PREs) - Clauses 15 and 16
Clause 15 provided more detail on the appointment and administrative arrangements for the PREs. Functions of PREs were also clarified. Clause 16 required PREs to keep information on operators associations, their members and routes in the case of minibus taxi services.
Municipal Land Transport Funds, Provincial Land Transport Frameworks (PLTFs) and Integrated
Transport Plans (ITPs) - Clauses 17, 18 and 19
Clause 17 corrected an error in the Act. Clause 18 deleted the requirement to update PLTFs every two years. Clause 19 deleted paragraph 36(4) (g) in section 36.
Rationalisation of Public Transport Services - Clause 20
The Clause contained provisions to streamline the rationalisation process.
Negotiated Contracts and Stopgap Contracts - Clauses 21 and 22
One of the provisions of Clause 21 was to clarify the meaning of “once off” in relation to negotiated contracts. Clause 22 empowered contracting authorities to conclude stopgap contracts for not more than 3 years whilst they were conducting negotiations for a negotiated contract or establishing a network.
Subsidised and Commercial Contracts and Older Contracts - Clauses 23, 24, 25 and 26
The purpose of the amendment in Clause 23 was to allow municipalities to negotiate with municipal entities rather than always having to go out on tender. The aforementioned was also stipulated in Clause 24 but was in relation to commercial contracts. Clause 25 repealed the limitation on the involvement of municipalities in public transport services. Clause 26 deleted the requirement of having to resolve disputes by mediation or arbitration.
Rationalisation of Services - Clauses 27, 28 and 29
Clause 27 extended the deadline for converting permits to operating licences for a further 7 years. Clause 28 gave the Minister of Transport discretion to make regulations for the conversion of permits for scheduled services to commercial service contracts rather than being obliged to do so. Clause 29 clarified taxi recapitalisation provisions. The requirement that the new vehicle may not have a capacity of more than 20% larger than the old vehicle had been deleted.
Operating Licences - Clauses 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37 and 38
Clause 30 was a consequential amendment. Clause 31 addressed current uncertainties by clarifying exemptions. Clause 32 clarified where applications had to be made to MREs. Clause 33 provided that an operating licence had to be issued automatically where a stopgap contract was awarded. Clause 34 required that regulatory authorities had to also consider contraventions of codes of conduct when evaluating applications for operating licences. Clause 35 provided that applications for operating licences did not need to be published in certain cases. Clause 36 streamlined applications for temporary licences. Clause 37 contained a requirement to submit proof of insurance deleted due to the 2008 amendments to the Road Accident Fund Act. Clause 38 clarified that an operating licence could be issued to an accredited tourists transport operator even if he/she was not the owner of the vehicle.
Metered Taxis - Clause 39
The purpose of the proposed amendment in Clause 39 was to empower the Minister to regulate meters for metered taxis.
Electronic (e)-hailing Services - Clause 40
When the principal Act was passed e-hailing services were unknown. The new section introduced by Clause 40 regulated e-hailing services and clarified the nature of those services.
Charter and Staff Services - Clauses 41 and 42
Clause 41 placed limitations on operating licences for charter services. Clause 42 clarified that an operating licence was not required for staff services where no fare was charged but where staff services were contracted to an operator; he/she required an operating licence.
Operating Licences: General and Cross-Border Transport - Clauses 43, 44, 45 and 46
One of the provisions of Clause 43 was that it clarified the sizes of vehicles for the purposes of replacement vehicles. Clause 44 allowed for a vehicle to be replaced temporarily as well as when the existing vehicle had been sold, stolen or destroyed. Clause 45 deleted a provision that contained a presumption that where passengers were loaded within 2km of an international border the operator was undertaking cross-border transport. Clause 46 provided for the amendment of criteria for withdrawing operating licences to include contravention of legislation and contravention of a code of conduct.
Tourist Transport - Clauses 47, 48 and 49
Clause 47 provided that applications for accreditation of tour operators had to be published for comment. The purpose of Clause 48 was to bring about improvements to and clarify the accreditation system. Clause 49 was a consequential amendment.
General Amendments - Clauses 50, 51, 52 and 53
Clause 50 was a consequential amendment. Clause 51 clarified and broadened who may appeal to the Transport Appeal Tribunal (TAT). Clause 52 brought in an amendment on the provision that existing transport authorities had to be collapsed into the municipality’s administration after the date by the Minister of Transport for the demise of the relevant authority. In order to avoid legal challenges Clause 53 provided that the Minister of Transport may delay the implementation of the Act or exempt the NPTR, provinces, municipalities, PREs or MREs from implementing provisions of the Act for set times where practicalities or lack of capacity prevented it.
Arrangements between District and Local Municipalities - Clause 53
Clause 53 clarified section 84(1)(g) of the Municipal Structures Act 117 of 1998 as regards to the split of public transport functions between district and local municipalities.
Transitional Provision - Clause 54
Clause 54 provided that existing contracts concluded by municipalities under the amended section 11 would remain valid until they were cancelled or lapsed.
Amendment of other Acts - Clause 55
The purpose of Clause 55 was to clean up legislation and to implement current policy.
In conclusion members were provided with a list of institutions that had been consulted on the Bill.
The Acting Chairperson said that he hoped the legislation would have a positive impact on persons who used public transport.
Mr W Faber (DA, Northern Cape) referred to Clause 7 (c) which called upon municipalities to do financial planning for land transport in consultation with state owned rail operators like the Public Rail Agency of SA (PRASA) and Metrorail and asked whether it would not be best to place state owned entities like the PRASA and Transnet under one roof since there was a great deal of integration. He was glad things between Uber and metered taxis were being sorted as there had been a great deal of violence not too long ago.
Mr Faber pointed out that the taxi recapitalisation programme was started in 2004. It had been 14 years since it had started. The Department was asked what was happening on scrapping allowances. He was concerned that government kept on subsidising the programme. Was there a plan that was in place to deal with the issue? He felt that owners of taxis needed to take some responsibility instead of relying on the government subsidy.
Mr Patel replied that the taxi recapitalisation programme had started in 2006. He explained that the taxi recapitalisation subsidy was a capital subsidy and not an operational subsidy. On buses and trains there was an operational subsidy. On the safety of passengers in taxis he said that the taxi could not be older than ten years old. The taxi recapitalisation capital subsidy started at R50 000, now it sat at R94 000.The R50 000 was 30% of the replacement value of the vehicle. Today the R94 000 was 20% of the replacement value of the vehicle. Only PRASA was mentioned because it involved passengers. Transnet was about rail.
Mr Neville Dingle, Consultant, Department of Transport, added that PRASA and Transnet were different entities ie rail. It was decided that it was better for monitoring to have separate entities. Their subsidies also came from National Treasury.
Mr Mafika Mgcina, Chairperson of the Gauteng Provincial Committee on Roads and Transport, referred to the matter of electronic e-hailing services and pointed out that Gauteng had seen a great deal of violence between Uber, meter taxis and Taxify. He welcomed the amendments that aimed to deal with the phenomenon of e-hailing. These types of technological advances were important with the coming of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Legislation needed to clarify whether an application or a meter should be used. According to the Department the driver of the motor vehicle taxi had the option of using both. The problem came in on how one would classify Uber and Taxify per se. One operator could not use both application and meter as they would be infringing on each other’s terrain. Another concern was that the legislation stated that taxi drivers should stick to their routes. He explained that for instance where Uber used an application they did not have limited routes but could pick up customers on the routes of other types of taxi drivers. How were things to be regulated? He felt that on the issue of routes for Uber and Taxify clarity was needed. Operating licences needed to state what the routes were.
Mr Patel responded that if a motor vehicle taxi driver used both an application and a meter it would simplify things. Everyone had been consulted. The meter taxi groups were fragmented and were very volatile. There were meter taxi drivers who were willing to use both an application and a meter system. It would enable them to make their businesses more sustainable. Both Uber and Taxify had been consulted. The matter had been discussed with the MEC of Transport in Gauteng, Mr Ismail Vadi.
Mr Takalani Nndanduleni, Deputy Director, Department of Transport, addressed the issue on e-hailing versus meter taxis. The Act stipulated that the meter taxis had to wait for passengers at a rank. E-hailing taxis could pick up passengers anywhere. The Bill now allowed meter taxis to pick up passengers anywhere.
Mr Wally Mbatha, ANC Member of the Gauteng Provincial Committee on Roads and Transport, stated that municipalities were required to constitute regulatory authorities. Would municipalities have the capacity and funds to do so? He asked how these types of municipalities were expected to audit routes.
Mr Mbatha asked the Department to give an indication of what it put in place to ensure that municipalities had the necessary capacity. He asked at what level planning was supposed to happen. Was it to be at national, provincial of municipal level? Human settlements were taking place all the time so continuous planning was needed. He pointed out that it could become a problem to renew operating licenses every three years.
Mr Patel responded that planning was done at national, provincial and local level. There was a national transport framework and the provincial transport framework but that the main level of planning was at municipal level. At municipal level there were Integrated Transport Plans (ITPs). These had detailed operational plans. For large metros there were complex and comprehensive integrated transport plans. District municipalities, which lacked capacity and resources, had less onerous plans. The local ITP was the basic plan. At present, the renewal of operating licenses had be done every seven years. The proposal was for it to be done every three years. Capacity to do this was a major challenge at all spheres. From a practical point of view a proper feasibility study had to be done with a proper business plan. It had to make sense in order for the Minister of Transport to approve it. It had to be shown that there was sustainable funding for the period. Adequate capacity was also needed. The Department also used Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs’ (COGTA) guidelines. He added that it was a policy concept that planning was from the medium to the long term. The handing over of regulating authority at municipal level would not happen overnight.
Ms M Dikgale (ANC, Limpopo), on the issue of consultation, said that rural areas had frustrations around transport. She did not hear about the Congress of Traditional Leaders of SA (Contralesa) and the House of Traditional Leaders being consulted on the Bill. On Clause 22 which dealt with negotiated contracts and stopgap contracts she was concerned that on an oversight visit to the Eastern Cape Province buses of operators were seen gathering dust and not in operation. The owner of these buses still received payment even though no service was rendered.
Ms Dikgale asked whether the Department had a monitoring tool in place to check on these types of things. It seemed that rural people were always the most disadvantaged. She said that Clause 7 covered the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system which Limpopo did not even have. On complaints received on public transport especially from rural persons the Department was asked whether they would reach the Minister of Transport.
Mr Patel responded that complaints received would reach the Minister of Transport. On consultations he explained that there were three spheres of government ie national, provincial and local government. He noted that the Department was a bit out of touch with people at grassroots level. The Department did consultations through its provincial counterparts. Consultations took place with government, with operators and with broader stakeholders. The Department instructed provinces to carry through whatever needed to be consulted on to relevant stakeholders. He stated that departments and stakeholders had asked for one on one engagement.
Ms B Mathevula (EFF, Limpopo) said that the briefing had not said anything around safety in the public transport system. She pointed out that women were being raped on buses. The Department was asked how it monitored the speed with which the processing of operating licences was done. Complaints were received that the Department took too long hence operators were forced to operate illegally.
Mr Patel explained that the processing of operating licences could take 6 months, one year or even up to eighteen months. The National Transport Information System was in place but it was run down. The Department was in the process of appointing a service provider for the redesign and re-engineer of the System. It would be done within a month or two. Hopefully once the upgrade was complete the speed of processing would be so much faster. Resource issues also played its part in hampering processing of applications. He said that the Minister of Transport would publish regulations that would cover the safety of passengers and pedestrians. The Department was currently doing a study on safety.
Mr Nndanduleni stated that the Department tried its best to process operating licences within 60 days. He conceded that there were challenges. He urged members to read the Bill together with the principle Act. He said that the monitoring of public transport safety was the responsibility of the provinces.
Ms Sarah Moleleki, Chairperson of the Free State Provincial Committee on Roads and Transport, pointed out that scholar transport was a problem in her province. The Department was asked whether it would be assisting provincial departments.
Mr Patel responded that on scholar transport the truth of the matter was that there was limited budget. The Department was doing a review of scholar transport. Work was being done with the Presidency and the Department of Basic Education. The review had started in 2017 and was not yet completed. Once completed it would be brought to parliament. The intention of the review was to look at how the coverage of scholar transport could be expanded.
Ms Khibi Manana, Acting Deputy Director General: Public Transport, on scholar transport said that the possibility of a grant would be considered. In some provinces scholar transport was under the Department of Basic Education whilst in other provinces it was under the Department of Transport. Pedestrian safety would also be looked at.
Ms Dikgale said that members still had to listen to the complaints of people even though transport was the responsibility of provinces. She was disappointed that the Department could not be at grassroots level. Transport was a frustrating issue for people in rural areas. She noted that if the Minister of Transport was to promote safety why rural areas could not be covered.
Mr Patel responded that the Department as national was not on the frontline of delivery. It was impossible for the Department to reach every corner of SA. The concerns about rural areas and traditional leaders were noted.
Mr M Mhlanga (ANC, Mpumalanga) on the National Transport Framework felt it not good enough for the Department to say that it was the responsibility of provinces to monitor. He felt it to be the responsibility of the Department at local and provincial level too.
Mr Mhlanga referred to planning and regulation and asked who was placed first, was it the technocrats or the people who were affected. He insisted that those who were affected had to be consulted. Communities should own the regulations that the Minister of Transport was to issue. More consultation needed to be done. He asked for clarity on Clause 3(b) which provided powers to make regulations to set fees. There had been an omission in the Act.
Mr Dingle said that provision was made for the Minister of Transport to make regulations for the setting of fees. He pointed out that the State Law Advisers Office had said that a specific provision was needed, hence the inclusion.
The Acting Chairperson explained that it was also the responsibility of members to hold public hearings on the Bill in the provinces. Consultation would therefore take place. Traditional leaders had to be brought on board. It was too late for traditional leaders to hold consultations. He understood that the Department did not have as much power as members did to consult with provinces and local government. Especially with municipalities there was a functional difficulty as there were more than 200 municipalities. Consultation had to take place with users of transport and with municipalities. He asked the Department to provide the Committee with a list of municipalities that it had consulted with. The Committee as part of the NCOP could bring the three spheres of government together. Members should apply their minds.
Mr Mhlanga noted that the Department had said that it was up to the Minister to come up with regulation on the safety of passengers. He felt it ought to be included in the Bill. Members represented provinces and local municipalities. Provision should be made for those who were directly affected.
The Chairperson added that the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) had ten seats in the NCOP. The Committee took a political responsibility to bring in other spheres of government.
Ms Dikgale said that she would never stop raising the issue of consultations with traditional leaders.
Ms Manana said that the concerns of members over consultations were noted. In the future the Department would ensure that it consulted with the House of Traditional Leaders and with the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA).
The Acting Chairperson pointed out to the Department that it might find that the SALGA had already consulted with the House of Traditional Leaders. On provincial transport authorities he stated that the Member of the Executive Council (MEC) for Transport in the Gauteng Province had made a request which the National Assembly had accepted. The request had been about specific transport functions to be performed at provincial level. In the Gauteng Province there was more talk on the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) System. He noted that provinces might have specific transport functions and for instance in rural areas things might be different.
The Acting Chairperson said that the Bill made provision for provincial transport authorities. He was concerned that in some provinces scholar transport involved the use of bakkies to transport school kids.
The issue was around whether the South African Police Services (SAPS) and metro police was performing their functions. He pointed out that it was hoped that the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) Bill would address the issue. Was SAPS doing their work? In 2018 30% of the persons who had died over the Easter Weekend were pedestrians. He was also concerned about farm workers being transported on the backs of trucks during harvesting season. Section 53 of the Act attempted to look at the matter. The Committee needed to check if the AARTO Bill covered farm workers during harvesting season. Were these trucks roadworthy? The legislation before the Committee made a statement that members were serious as legislators. The numbers of people who were injured and died on roads had to be drastically reduced.
Mr Mhlanga, on provincial transport authorities, said that what was being said was that conditions at provinces would be taken into consideration. How could laws and regulations vary from province to province? Laws and regulations should be uniform.
The Acting Chairperson stated that the Committee would consult with whips on holding hearings in the provinces. The AARTO Bill was already in the provinces. He hoped that the legislation would be finalised before the end of 2018.
The meeting was adjourned.
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