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TRANSPORT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
17 September 2003
MAPUTO REPORT AND TAXI RECAPITALISATION REPORT
Chairperson: Mr J Cronin (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Transport Portfolio Committee Report on Maputo Development Corridor oversight visit
Report of the Portfolio Committee on the Taxi Transformation Process
A report was presented on the Committee's visit to the Maputo Development Corridor, where members assessed progress and challenges in terms of the transport sector. Members indicated that clarity was required regarding which department was in charge at the border post. Possible ways of addressing congestion at the post were suggested. A report on taxi transformation was also presented and concerns were raised about the 2006 completion deadline, and the affordability of, conversion for the average taxi operator. It was suggested that the latter issue be investigated through sociological research.
Transport Portfolio Committee Report on Maputo Development Corridor Oversight Visit
The Chair presented a report on the Committee's recent oversight visit to the Maputo Development Corridor (MDC), which he described as the first major Nepad development (see document "Transport Portfolio Committee Report on Maputo Development Corridor oversight visit"). He said the aim of the visit was to familiarise the Committee with the major institutional and infrastructural transport developments and to assess progress and challenges. The report focussed on the N4 road link, the rail link and the Maputo port. It identified the need for transport infrastructure and operations to be integrated into wider developmental structures directed at more balanced and sustainable development. The report also mentioned that Mozambique's equivalent of Transnet, Portos e Caminhos de Ferro de Mozambique (CFM), raised very serious concerns around new visa requirements imposed by South Africa and the treatment of rail passengers at the border post. The Committee recommended that the Department of Transport should engage with the Department of Home Affairs and South African Customs in order to facilitate an effective resolution to the problems encountered at the Ressano Garcia/Lebombo border.
Mr A Ainslie (ANC) said it appeared as if nobody was in charge at the border post, because about five different departments were administering it. He said the report needed to also address concerns about passenger trains being stopped at the border and passengers having to disembark in order to cross the border on foot before being allowed back onto the train.
Prince N Zulu (IFP) stated there would be less congestion if the two countries could agree to facilitate one checkpoint instead of only the current situation where each country had its own checkpoint.
Mr S Farrow (DP) said the visa process had to be liberalised. It was easier for a South African to go overseas than to Mozambique. A pre-clearance facility was needed for trucks in order to reduce congestion. Mr Farrow added that the Committee should recommend that one department take the lead at the border, because nobody knew who was in charge there. Regarding the need for balanced development, he said the N4 ran through very poor areas in Mozambique with no peripheral development. The Mozambican side could also have stalls like the South African side.
Ms T Nwamitwa-Shilubana (ANC) pointed out that corrupt people were using the congested conditions to ask commuters for money to get them across the border faster. The two countries needed to work together to put an end to such unlawful practices.
Prince Zulu said the Department of Home Affairs should be in charge at the border post.
The Chair replied that it was not up to the Committee to appoint someone to take charge of the border post. All the Committee could do was to report the problem and raise its concerns at the Cabinet level. They would recommend that various remedies be considered for the highlighted problems, including a bilateral agreement between South Africa and Mozambique to allow for one immigration control point instead of two. The possibility of a pre-clearance facility for trucks and the erection of stalls on the Mozambican side of the N4 should also be addressed. The Committee would also recommend that urgent attention be paid to the upgrading of public facilities, especially the ablution units.
Report of the Portfolio Committee on the Taxi Transformation Process
The Chair presented a report on the transformation of the minibus industry, highlighting progress made in terms of regulation, legalisation, formalisation and democratisation (see document "Report of the Portfolio Committee on the Taxi Transformation Process"). He outlined the difficult recapitalisation process, touching on the envisaged introduction of 18- and 35-seater buses, as well as the scrapping allowance government would pay taxi operators to financially assist them in the conversion process. The report stated that the 2006 deadline for the completion of the process might have to be amended to allow for more time. It also urged Government to carefully reassess the affordability of the new vehicles, because many taxi operators might find them too expensive. If the latter proved to be the case, alternative approaches to recapitalisation should be canvassed in consultation with stakeholders.
The Chair said he was of the opinion that the new taxi vehicles would be out of the financial reach of a large number of operators. Government should not spend R4 billion on a process that many operators might not be able to participate in due to limited funds.
Mr J Niemann (NNP) said to counter impressions created by the media, the Committee should send out a clear message that the recapitalisation process would not be abandoned.
Ms Nwamitwa-Shilubana (ANC) said that as soon as there was clarity about the costs, Government and Santaco could put their heads together to find a way forward.
The Chair suggested that some sociological research could be conducted to get a profile of an average taxi operator and to see whether he/she could afford converting to the new vehicles. It had to be borne in mind that the people in Santaco structures where probably more upwardly mobile and better resourced than an average taxi operator.
Mr G Schneemann (ANC) added that the Committee would fail if it did not make a contribution on the impact that recapitalisation would have on survivalist type drivers in rural areas. A recommendation for a social impact study should be added to the report.
Mr Farrow (DP) said the Committee also needed to establish how Santaco was going to use its 25,1% equity stake to put something back into its membership base.
The Chair said he was of the view that part of the problem with recapitalisation stemmed from the fact that it was globally designed top - down, instead of being built from the bottom up. He said more consultation was needed in order to achieve the objectives of recapitalisation.
The meeting was adjourned.
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