Kempton Park Petition on refuse collection; DEA Quarter 3 performance; Isimangaliso Wetland Park Authority performance

Environmental Affairs

19 March 2019
Chairperson: Mr P Mapulane (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs received a briefing on the petition from residents of Kempton Park calling  for the investigation of the enforcement of the National Environmental Management: Waste Act, 2008 (Act No. 59 of 2008) in the Ekurhuleni Metro to ensure regular and reliable refuse collection. The Committee heard that according to the Gauteng Province, Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, refuse collection is done according to a fixed calendar schedule that shows which areas are serviced on what day of the week and this is communicated to the residents. These are also shared through Customer Care Centres.

The Committee was concerned to hear that unaccounted intra-growth within existing suburbs as a result of illegal sub-letting from property owners made targeted planning even more complex, and inadequate funding for the growing demand for zero-rated services is compounded by the increasing number of informal settlements and population density in these areas tended to stifle the provision of quality and predictable services.

During this presentation Members asked that the responses be relayed to the petitioners who had petitioned Parliament on the matter and were not present at the current session

Members asked if the City was looking for alternative landfill sites because there has been a shortage; if the matter in the petition had been sorted out; what the City does when there is a backlog of trash and people are having to put waste in black plastic bags; what is the timeline for the collection of those bags; and how the separation at the source was done practically.

The Committee was briefed on the 3rd Quarter Performance of the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA).  The Committee heard that income exceeded the budget by R6.4 million for the period April to December 2018, and this difference was due to differences in the basis of preparation of the budget on a modified cash basis as required by GRAP (Generally Recognised Accounting Practice) and the PFMA (Public Finance Management Act). Members were pleased to hear that expenditure was below budget by R5 million and that 97 learners had participated in an Environment Leadership Programme and graduated from the programme in August 2018. Members were pleased to hear that with the funds available from the fiscal allocation, the DEA recruited 100 students on a Work Integrated Programme which required far less funds than the learnership programme.

The Committee was briefed on the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority on the assumption of the conservation functions from Ezemvelo KZN (KwaZulu Natal) Wildlife. This place offers game drives and guided walks through the uMkhuze section of iSimangaliso; and visitors  have the option to join a guided walk to the fig forests with experienced guides with extensive knowledge of the birds, animals, plants and cultural traditions of the area.

The Committee heard that there were delays in the finalisation of the draft Rhino Research Strategy due to the complexity of the matters that were dealt with during the development of the Strategy. Approval has been initiated on the EDMS (Electronic Document Management Systems) and expected to be approved before the end of this financial year.

Members asked for clarity on the Wetlands rehabilitation targets and said that the Programme 4 record did not indicate how many people were importing. The Committee issued a caution about the number of wetlands set for rehabilitation (56 in number) as it seemed to be too optimistic. They added that it was far better to have fewer hectares and do them properly than target more hectares and “do a shoddy job”. Members asked further whether the introduction of the Modified Cash Standards affected any of the Programmes and whether progress was being made in implementing the Court of Appeal decision.

Meeting report

Opening remarks by the Chairperson

The Chairperson welcomed the Members and the guests and commented that there was a likelihood of the session being interrupted due to load shedding. He termed the load shedding as “very disruptive”, particularly to small businesses. He added that he was confident that the Government was working very hard on a solution.

 

He gave the apologies of the Minister for Environmental Affairs Ms Nomvula Mokonyane who had urgent engagements at her office as well as those of the Deputy Minister Ms Barbara Thomson who was attending a Cabinet Committee meeting at the same time.

 

Joint Presentation: Response to matters raised in the petition from residents of Kempton Park

Ms Ndosi Shongwe, MMC (Member of the Mayoral Committee): Environmental and Waste Services, Ekurhuleni, apologised on behalf of the City of Gauteng for not attending a prior session with the Committee in November of the previous year and attributed that to the fact that they had received the invitation only two days before the session. The reason for that was that the invitation had been sent to the previous Chairperson who was no longer in the office.

She proceeded to introduce her delegation and said that this would be a joint presentation from the City and Province of Gauteng.

Mr Loyiso Mkwana, Chief Director: Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development told the Committee that the City of Ekurhuleni has 1198 personnel that performed waste management functions. It is the best performing of the 12 Gauteng Municipalities in natural resource management and has so far registered 53 waste management cooperatives.

Refuse collection is done according to a fixed calendar schedule that shows which areas are serviced on what day of the week and this is communicated to the residents. These are shared through Customer Care Centres, as follows:

Ward 25 is scheduled for Fridays, every week. The backlog has been addressed and the area is serviced according to schedule.

Ward 104 is scheduled for Thursdays, every week. The backlog has been addressed and the area is serviced according to schedule.

Mr Mkwana said that there is a skewed distribution of resources between and amongst depots which can be attributed to the fact that Waste Management System depots are still located according to the old town council structures. The biggest concern is that the profile of most of the traditional catchment areas linked to the traditional depots has changed significantly over time. The varying growth rates amongst the city's various towns continues to create an imbalance amongst and within depots, both in terms of resource allocation and service point balancing.

Unaccounted intra-growth within existing suburbs as a result of illegal sub-letting from property owners makes targeted planning even more complex, and inadequate funding for the growing demand for zero-rated services is compounded by the increasing number of informal settlements and population density in these areas which stifle the provision of quality and predictable services.

Mr Mkwana said that the current City owned waste collection fleet is not always available at full capacity due to a high rate of breakdowns and longer repair and maintenance turn-around times. This results in the existing roadworthy fleet being over-utilised creating the excessive repairs and a barely manageable maintenance budget. For instance, the catchment area for the Kempton Park depot has over 58 332 service points, which ideally requires twelve 19m 3-Rear End Loaders (RELs) to service five routes with an average of 11 000 service points each. Currently, only seven Rear End Loaders (RELs) are available due to breakdowns.

The downtime is around 63% against the required norm of at least 85% for the whole City. The 22% shortfall translates into sustained backlogs if no extra measures are taken and it results in collection outside the publicised schedules for most affected depots.

Mr Mkwana said that resistance and refusal by some residents of Kempton Park to convert from a plastic bag system to a Bin system also added to the disruption in service delivery in the area — it takes longer to load plastic bags and it is unsafe for employees to load onto the compactors because as many as 10 bags of waste is generated per residential property.

Discussion

Ms J Edwards (DA) asked if the City is looking for alternative landfill sites because there has been a shortage. She also asked if the matter in the petition had been sorted out and  what the City does when there is a backlog of trash and people have to put waste in black plastic bags, and what is the timeline for the collection of those bags.

Mr Mkwana replied that after analysing the landfill sites and their availability, there is indeed a shortage but the different cities in Gauteng differ because Johannesburg had the biggest problem while some other cities in Gauteng did not. The Province is also working on source separation of waste to promote recycling. A recent study in Johannesburg found that it costs the City of Johannesburg seven times as much to deal with illegal dumping.

The Chairperson asked how the separation at the source was done practically.  

Mr Mkwana responded that they encourage households to separate their waste into recyclables and non-recyclables or organic and non-organic wastes.

Ms Faith Mabindisa, Head of Department: Environmental Resource and Waste Management, City of Ekurhuleni, confirmed to the Members that the entire waste backlog in Kempton Park has been cleared.

The Chairperson asked that the responses be relayed to the petitioners who had petitioned Parliament on the matter and were not present at the current session. They had however been present at the aborted session in November. He told the Gauteng City and Provincial representatives that they were now free to leave the session if they so wished. 

Department of Environmental Affairs 2018/19 3rd Quarter Performance Report

Ms Nosipho Ngcaba, Director-General (DG), Department of Environmental Affairs, introduced her delegation and handed over to the next presenter.

Mr Ishaam Abader Deputy Director General: Legal, Authorisation, Compliance and Enforcement, DEA Department of Environmental Affairs), took the Committee through the report highlighting the areas in Programme 2 on Transformation that the DEA had challenges with. The strategic objective of this programme was to optimise the empowerment in all activities of the Park in a way that will improve the livelihoods of previously disadvantaged people.

Programme Three (Tourism/Commercial) had the strategic objective to optimise the Park's revenue generation in a commercially- and environmentally-sustainable manner, that fosters job creation and empowerment of historically-disadvantaged communities.

Programme Four (Corporate Governance) had the strategic objective to ensure that iSimangaliso's operations are properly funded and cost-effectively managed while maintaining an appropriate system of internal control and reporting of accounting, management, and statutory information.

Mr Abader said that income exceeds the budget by R6.4 million for the period April to December 2018. This difference is due to differences in the basis of preparation of the budget (modified cash basis as required by the PFMA) and the financial statements (GRAP as required by the PFMA and the application of GRAP23).

Sundry income increased as a result of funds that have also been re-allocated from the community levies to sundry income for the bursary programme — the expenditure is reflected under training.

The fees related to administration and management received is below budget as a result of delays in the funding for the land rehabilitation project. The tranche payment was received on 22 August. This will even itself out by the end of the financial year.

Park revenue increased due to above average annual accommodation concession fees received.

Mr Abader said that expenditure is below budget by R5 million. The repairs and maintenance costs increased as a result of the fence maintenance on the new fences erected in the Park. A maintenance plan is to be included in the infrastructure allocation from the DEA. Personnel costs are below budget as a result of the finalisation of the new structure and approval of appointments and critical posts to be filled. Certain critical posts have been advertised and recruitment would be finalised in the 4th quarter.

The depreciation is below budget due to the delay in the award of the final completion certificate as a result of the snags not being completed and additional work requested. This includes the gate entrance, Sugarloaf bus turning circle, the walkway and the meet & greet. 

Professional and technical fees are below budget. This is a cost containment saving due to staff taking on some of the responsibilities.

Accounting revenue for the period ended 31 December is R94.8 million. This is non-cash revenue and is the result of the accounting policies relating to grants (GRAP23). In other words, R44.9 million has been recognised into income in respect of capital expenditure. The reciprocal expense reflects in the balance sheet under the fixed assets.

Briefing on iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Quarter 2 & 3 -2018/19 Progress Report

Mr Satish Roopa, Non-Executive Director, iSimangaliso Wetlands Park Authority, gave the apologies of the CEO of iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority who could not make it to the session.

The Chairperson interrupted and added that he must send a formal apology to the Committee through the Committee Secretary.

Mr Satish announced to the Members that the former CEO had passed away three weeks ago.

A moment of silence was held in his honour.

A management agreement between the iSimangaliso Authority and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife ensures that the day-to-day management of wildlife and natural systems in the Park will continue to be undertaken by the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. Ezemvelo KZN (KwaZulu Natal) Wildlife offers game drives and guided walks through the uMkhuze section of iSimangaliso. Visitors have the option to join a guided walk to the fig forests with experienced guides with extensive knowledge of the birds, animals, plants and cultural traditions of the area. Conservation in KZN has a proud record of accomplishment and the agreement with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife ensures this expertise is carried into the management of the Park.

The iSimangaliso Authority has also already launched a major programme to support and build the existing tourism market, to attract new investment into a range of lodges and hotels in the area, and to create opportunities for new nature tourism activities such as boat concessions, game drives and other appropriate tourism services. The new tourism projects are designed to create jobs, stimulate economic growth and generate revenues that will reduce conservation’s reliance on the government’s fiscus – while conforming to strict environmental guidelines through an Integrated Management Plan, and Park Regulations prevent over-exploitation of the area and ensure the universal values of the Wetlands are enhanced.

Mr Satish said that 97 learners participated in an Environment Leadership Programme and graduated from the programme in August 2018 (100 learners recruited and dropped out of the programme). No new intake of 100 learners could be undertaken after the graduation of the August 2018 group as no further funding was secured from Local Government SETA which has been funding the programme.

With the funds available from the fiscal allocation, the DEA recruited 100 students on a Work Integrated Programme which required far less funds than the learnership programme.

Mr Satish said that a Rhino Lab Action Plan was implemented with key interventions implemented in 2017/18 focusing on the following five identified areas of the Rhino Implementation Plan as per the Rhino Lab Outcomes:

• Law enforcement

• Community development

• Management of the rhino population (Biological interventions to improve population numbers)

• Responsive legislative framework and

• Demand Management

There were delays in the finalisation of the draft Rhino Research Strategy due to the complexity of the matters that were dealt with during the development of the Strategy. Approval has been initiated on EDMS and expected to be approved before the end of this financial year. Technical input has been provided on the development of the Terms of Reference for the establishment of a Technical Task Team on Disaster Risk Reduction and Planning during a workshop which was held on the 30 October 2018.

Technical Assessment/evaluations of proposals for the Expression of Interest on the appointment of a service provider were conducted on 06 November 2018. There was a lack of suitable service providers during the assessment which led to a delay in the appointment of a service provider. Other options are being explored for procurement options to appoint a service provider.

There were also contractual problems with one company which used to have a huge uptake. The supply to this company stopped and as such the figures dropped. Companies also generally close during the December holidays thereby dropping their production figures for the quarter.

Corrective measures have been put in place with the company that had contractual challenges. The company should be back on-line in due course. Some of the contracted new companies will commence operations at a later stage thereby increasing the production capacity.

Finally Mr Satish said that it is unlikely that iSimangaliso will implement any activities related to the MPA extension, as declaration on the extension is still in process in the DEA. Approval to revise the target has already been requested.

Discussion

Mr S Makhubele (ANC) asked for clarity on the Wetlands rehabilitation targets.

Mr R Purdon (DA) said that the Programme 4 record did not indicate how many were importing. He told Dr Preston that the number of wetlands set for rehabilitation (56 in number) seems to be too optimistic. He added that it was far better to have fewer hectares and do them properly than target more hectares and “do a shoddy job”. He enquired where the bailout mentioned would be obtained from.

The Chairperson asked whether the introduction of the Modified Cash Standards affected any of the Programmes. He also asked whether progress was being made in implementing the Court of Appeal decision. He emphasised that South Africa is a unitary State and not a federal republic and therefore the management of a national park, which is a natural asset, is a responsibility of the National Government and not the Provincial Governments.

Ms Ngcaba responded that the Climate Change Bill will not lapse because it had not been introduced to Parliament. It is legally allowed out of a political process for the provincial government to manage these natural assets for example, the Cradle of mankind is being managed by the provincial government. 121 of the 125 entities are reporting on all criteria of pollutants for climate change. The Department will fully comply with the Modified Cash Standards going forward. The targets will however, unfortunately, go down due to the compliance with the Modified Cash Standards.

Ms Ngcaba continued and said that the Department had a meeting with the National Treasury to map out how the Department will be able to comply with the Economic Reporting Framework and Modified Cash Standards, and how the Department is performing relative to other Departments.

The Chairperson thanked the Members and guests and announced that the Minister would not be present at the next session the following day (Wednesday).

The meeting was adjourned.

 

 

 

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