Transport Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report

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24 October 2018
Chairperson: Ms D Magadza (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

BRRR available once published: 2018 Budget Review & Recommendations Reports – BRRR

The Portfolio Committee on Transport deliberated on the Department’s BRRR report.

There was some debate about the structure of the report, with one Member asking why it went back four years. Another pointed out that the detailed report will serve as a useful legacy handover to the next Parliament and serve as a record for the last four years. It was also pointed out that previous recommendations were cross-referenced in this report.

Members decided to focus on the recommendations section due to the length of the report.

Some of the suggested recommendations included;

  • The report should highlight the scholar transport challenges faced by rural learners
  • The report should highlight that there is a reduction in the number of locomotives, coaches, revenue collection and passengers at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa. Further, the assertion by the Railway Safety Regulator that PRASA is not complying with the prescripts of their license to operate and placing rail passengers in harm’s way by the growing manual signaling and the increased arson in the trains should be captured.
  • There was a suggestion the President be urged to sign the Public Audit Amendment Bill into law
  • There was a suggestion recommending the stabilisation of all entities

The report was adopted with amendments. 

Meeting report

The Chairperson welcomed Members of the committee and guests present.

She indicated that the committee will be looking at the Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR) of the Department of Transport and see if Members can agree on the contents.

The Chairperson said she will be subject to the guidance and leadership of the members during the course of this meeting.  She hoped that Members read the report beforehand and will contribute meaningfully to this document. The critical issues are in the observations and recommendations part of the document.

Two options were put forward: it is assumed the report has been read by Members or to go through it page by page. After debating the options proposed, members agreed that they would begin to deal with the report beginning with the observations section because of the extraordinarily length of the document and other commitments of members today. References could also be made to earlier pages should members deem it fit. 

Transport Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR)

Adv Alma Nel, Committee Content Adviser, then led the Committee in the discussions. She said the reason why the document is lengthy is because they tried to incorporate issues from the last four years, as well as the mandate of the Committee and Department, the Minister’s contract with the President and the priorities of the Department.


Mr C Hunsinger (DA) noted that there are about 23 references dating back to 2013/14 to present in this document. He acknowledged that it is a huge task to compile a document of this magnitude and must be exhausting for the authors. What is the purpose and reasons for referencing back from 2013/14 to the present in particular? From experience BRRR always focuses on the current financial year in terms of review and recommendations and never that far back. In addition, there are no linkages in the current recommendations picking up issues from 2013/14 to present. Why only from 2013/14 when there are track records also dating back longer?

The Chairperson replied that looking at the present recommendations it does not include everything but highlights issues that were raised in the previous BRRRs that had not been addressed. The recommendations might have been an overarching response stating that since the present Parliament began, these were the issues raised and not addressed to date by the Department dating back to 2013/14.

Adv Nel further clarified that it was dating back to 2013/14 because 2013/14 was the first report before this Committee. The reason it is added is because it makes reference to the expenditure and transfers regarding the provincial road management grant and the Shamasonke road projects that the Committee has oversight functions, which has been a concern for the Committee for quite some time. It gives an indication of the amount of money that has been transferred and the oversight that the Committee has requested over the years.  It could be taken out too if the Committee requests so.  

Mr Hunsinger asked why it was not linked up to previous terms because there has been a longer history of particular failures. The general impression is that this Committee has been very kind in terms of recommendations and following through on proposed measures to correct these repetitive failures in many entities. It is appreciated that they found it appropriate and necessary to summarise but there remains the question as to what happened to the report of the previous term and why did the Committee not pick up from there? Or is this a new innovative approach? 

Mr K Sithole (IFP) noted that in flipping through the recommendations, he did not see the challenges faced by rural learners anywhere in the document. Just this past weekend, he saw the transport difficulties faced by learners in KZN first hand. Transport was operated by the Department of Basic Education and not by the Department of Transport. Scholar transport is a huge problem.

Mr T Mpanza (ANC) apologised for arriving late and thanked the Chairperson for holding the fort. He did not find anywhere in the document speaking of the termination of the Werksmans contract at a time the Committee is constantly complaining of endless investigations going on which are very costly. On the last page of the document, the Committee should include an appreciation of the good working relationship existing with the executive arm of government.

The Chairperson reminded the last speaker that in his absence last week, the Committee had requested PRASA to - within 48 working hours which expired on Monday - to furnish the Committee with the service level agreement, contracts and terms of reference of how it ended up appointing Werksmans to execute that contract. Up until now, nothing has come from the Department. This Committee has being making recommendations with time frames but yet nothing has happened.

Mr L Ramatlakane (ANC) agreed with the report’s structure saying that it will serve as a useful legacy handover to the next Parliament. It will serve as a record for the last four years. From the Committee’s standpoint, the Werkmans contract was irregular and was not contested which was made clear by the Chair of the board that Werksmans was taken from the roster of lawyers which was untrue.

The Chairperson told committee members that there is now another company that was recently similarly appointed just like Werksmans was. That has to be taken into cognizance as well. It has to be highlighted that at PRASA, there is reduction in the number of locomotives, coaches, revenue collection and passengers. There is not yet a clear and concise answer on how they intend to deal with these challenges. This also has to be highlighted in the report. The Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) has now said that for the third year running, PRASA does not comply with the prescripts of their license to operate. There is a sustained case of non and malicious compliance by PRASA.  This should form the bulk of recommendations that should be addressed by the next Parliament. RSR also complained that manual signaling and arson is increasing which is constantly compromising the safety of rail passengers. There was an issue of the centralisation of powers within PRASA which ensures that regional managers do not even have the powers to fix a broken train. It should be reflected in the recommendations too.

Ms S Xego (ANC) suggested the Committee make a recommendation to put some pressure on the President to sign the Bill that will give additional powers to the Auditor-General, moving that office away from merely just an advisory role. The Committee must continue to put out recommendations even though some members felt the language used is too soft. The paragraph that stated less use of consultants is in order. A recommendation that speaks to the stabilisation of the entities would be welcome because of the amount of chaos existing in the entities.

Adv Nel surmised that before she joined Parliament, previous recommendations were not cross-referenced. This was discussed and it has now become a feature of BRRR report here. On the challenges of the transportation of rural learners, the Department has projects existing in the rural areas. There is also a rural access project that is running but it is within the education portfolio. What can be done is to add that the Department should work with sister Department of Education to ensure that the scholar transport function optimally.

The report was then adopted with the amendments.

The meeting was adjourned.


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