A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.
TRANSPORT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
21 February 2001
ARRIVE ALIVE CAMPAIGN; DEPARTMENT PROGRAMME 2001
Road Traffic Management (See Appendix 1)
Chairperson: Mr J Cronin
The committee was briefed about the progress of the Arrive Alive campaign over the festive period (December 2000/January 2001). The committee did not show particular interest in the statistics rather their focus was on the campaign's funding.
The Department presented their strategies for 2001 for the various facets of transport: air, road, rail and ports. Specific attention was being given to the improvement of public transport. Concern was raised about the delays in the recapitalisation of the minibus-taxi industry. The Minister alleviated these concerns by stating that even though the process is difficult, it is ongoing. The Minister highlighted that much more emphasis would be placed on resurrecting the railway system as Cabinet had endorsed this focus on railway transport.
Arrive Alive Campaign
Mr Gerry Botha presented an update of the campaign, specifically the achievements over the Dec 2000-Jan 2001 period. Their theme for December had been alcohol and speed and for January it had been road signs and traffic control. Their aim is have the Arrive Alive campaign become an ongoing year-round programme. Mr Botha stressed that their achievements would not have been possible without the co-operation of various role-players such as provincial and local authorities, traffic authorities, SAPS, CSIR and the media.
He pointed out that emphasis had to be placed on certain functional areas, that is, traffic law enforcement, communication as well as collection and analysis of information. It was a challenge to perform within the constraints of a total budget of R40m that had to be allocated to various provinces. The following are some of the allocations: Gauteng-R6m; Kwazulu-Natal-R3.5m; Western Cape-R3.6m; Eastern Cape-R2.2m and the Free State-R2.3m.
Mr Botha proceeded to quote statistics collected for the Dec 2000-Jan 2001 period. Most accidents involved motor cars (40%), next in line was bakkies (20%) and the rest was comprised of buses (5%) and minibus-taxis (14%). Looking at types of accidents, 40% involved pedestrians; 20% were overturned vehicles; 10% were head-on collisions and 5% were hit and runs.
Surprisingly, the distribution figures for accidents in rural and urban areas varied from year to year. In the period 1998-1999, rural accidents increased and urban accidents decreased. However for the 1999-2000 period, rural accidents decreased while urban accidents increased.
There are many contributory factors causing accidents. Amongst them are jaywalking, speed and alcohol. However not too much faith must be placed on the reliability of statisitcs relating to contributory factors as police officers must still be properly trained in this type of data capturing.
Their vision of expanding the campaign's activities is well on course. Their National Business Plan has been approved and their Provincial Business Plans are in the process of being approved. They have to intensify their efforts during holiday periods.
At present their focus is on decreasing the amount of pedestrian accidents. Their strategy is to identify hazardous locations where accidents frequently occur.
Mr Botha was confident that the Arrive Alive campaign is here to stay. It forms part of the Minister's broader strategy. The need is to create public awareness and to get provinces to work together.
Mr Ainslie (ANC) asked if the budget of R40.5m is sufficient. Is the campaign not going to be underfinanced? Much money is needed to pay for equipment, overtime for traffic officers and so on? As much of the funds are allocated to provinces, how is the expenditure of the provincial funds monitored? Further, if speed is a problem, why are there not compulsory governing devices fitted on motor cars?
Mr Botha explained that they are allocated funds based on a percentage of the Road Accident Fund (RAF). At present the figure is at 2% but the RAF feels that this figure could increase to 5 or 10 percent if many claims are not made against the RAF. The Auditor-General apparently did not approve of such increases as the legislation does not allow for it. Therefore legislation is to be amended to allow for the RAF to make these increased contributions.
He added that some of the bigger provinces (Gauteng, KZN and the Western Cape) provide their own funds for Arrive Alive programmes. National only contributes two cents for every rand that the provinces contribute and these funds are mainly used to make up for any shortfalls that may occur. He added that they have considered ways of reducing accidents caused by speeding. Speed control devices is an option.
Mr S Farrow (DP) asked what portion of the R40million budget is allocated towards overtime costs. He suggested that the funds used for overtime costs could be used to hire permanent personnel.
Mr Botha replied that the latest labour law provisions put limits on the amount of overtime an employee might claim. Therefore officers do not put in much overtime. He did make the point that very little of the funds are available for overtime claims.
Mr J Slabbert (IFP) asked if communication is taking place between Arrive Alive and law enforcement.
Mr Botha replied that they have had joint meetings with law enforcement in formulating the National and Provincial Business Plans. They are also participating with traffic people and local authorities in provinces. Unfortunately not all the provinces are forthcoming with their co-operation. Some of the major provinces (Gauteng and Western Cape) have special provincial committees that deal with traffic problems. These committees are comprised of traffic officers and community leaders.
Ms S Mnumzana (ANC) pointed out that the Department had only referred to statistics and programmes in the major provinces. What information does the Department receive from the smaller provinces? Is it not true that the Department also funds these smaller provinces?
Mr Botha stated that the smaller provinces are also required to furnish the Department with reports. Many of them do not fulfill this requirement but it is being followed up. He added that a province is penalised by a reduction of two percent in its monthly allocation of funds for non-submission of reports.
Department Strategy for 2001
The Director-General of Transport, Mr Sipho Msikinya, stated that they had had R4.6 billion in their budget for the previous year. He felt that this amount was inadequate to deal with both national and provincial problems. He stated that it is difficult to make plans for infrastructural development if they have no idea of what the next budget is going to be like. Mr Msikinya gave a broad overview of their plans in the various sectors:
They aim to promote tourism and exports whilst at the same time reducing airfares. The trend lately has been a decrease in the number of flights into South Africa. The Director-General explained that airlines are optimising their services by decreasing the number of flights. Mr Msikinya also stated that a firm decision has to be taken on whether the development of the King Shaka Airport is to go ahead.
High on their priority list is the completion of the Regulatory Framework for the efficient management of ports (policy and legislation). It was noted that drafting policy for port management is highly complex and that for now they would only be focussing on commercial ports.
Mr Msikinya stated that in the near future a model must be adopted for Spoornet. He added that a Rail Safety Regulation System has to be implemented. The Director- General was pleased to inform the committee that funds have been allocated for the upgrading of commuter rail stock. This has been a sore point for many years.
A priority of the Department is the upgrading of border road sections as they have been neglected for years. The Department, in conjunction with the Department of Public Works, has embarked on a process of road infrastructure development concentrating on the rural areas.
Other issues identified are increasing transport safety in rural areas as well as improving the rural transport infrastructure and transport services. For urban areas, the focus is on improving public transport as well as developing a model for inter-modal transport.
Mr Msikinya stated that they face great difficulties in dealing with the road transport issues. For example, there has been a request to increase bus subsidies even though the majority of the population (60%) uses mini-bus taxis. He added that it is difficult to satisfy everyone.
Mr Ainslie asked why the number of flights into South Africa were decreasing. He stated that Virgin Airlines has for years tried to increase the number of their flights into South Africa. What seems to be the problem? He also asked why there was a delay in the development of the King Shaka Airport. Having direct flights into Durban would greatly boost the tourism industry in Kwazulu-Natal.
The Director-General explained that bi-lateral agreements exist between Great Britain and South Africa. The number of flights between the two countries is limited to 30 flights either way. The problem that Virgin Airlines is having is that Britain has already filled its quota of 30 flights to South Africa.
Mr Msikinya said that a political decision is required with regard to the King Shaka airport. He added that they have even reduced the budget for the airport by 40% to make the project more viable. The aim is to make the project sustainable, so that the local communities could benefit from the creation of jobs.
Mr Slabbert commented that he felt that there was a hidden agenda linked to the King Shaka Airport development. He asked how the Abrahams case is progressing.
The Director-General assured the committee that there was no hidden agenda. He stated that the courts have dragged out the case against Mr Abrahams. They can only discuss the matter once the courts have made their decision.
Public Transport System
Mr Makokwane, head of Public Passenger Transport, outlined their plans to improve the public transport system. He added that he was well aware of the criticism from overseas visitors and locally about the pathetic state of the public transport system. Public Passenger Transport comprises three main categories:
(i) Rail transport
Mr Makokwane stated that R510m had been allocated towards the refurbishing of coaches. A major concern was the safety aspect of rail transport and a draft Safety Rail Regulator Bill is being formulated to address the problem. Additionally, plans are being made to optimise the utilisation of existing assets such as the intention to extend the Khayalitsha line.
(ii) Bus transport
There is a problem in the fact that only 35% of commuters use trains and buses whereas 65% use mini-bus taxis. The reality is that the bus service is being greatly subsidised even though the return on investment does not justify it. The problem is exaccerbated by fuel price increases. He pointed out that the escalation cost factor is currently at ten percent whereas the budgetary escalation factor is only at four percent. The resultant shortfall has to be made up somehow. The only option available is to enter into public-private partnerships. The aim is to have small to medium-sized enterprises involved in the bus system.
(iii) Mini-bus transport
Mr Makokwane stated that they are trying to democratise and formalise the taxi industry.
Progress has been made in seven provinces to establish provincial councils for the democratisation and formalisation of routes. The aim is to set up a structure at national level. However he stressed that much of their focus has been on recapitalising the taxi industry. The Department of Transport is trying to ensure that the Department of Trade and Industry is putting feasible projects in place so as facilitate their work. He added that they are also trying to combat the large numbers of illegal, unregistered taxis on the road. Mr Makokwane conceded that the battle seems never-ending. On a lighter note, the committee was informed of a pilot project started in Kwazulu-Natal involving the use of non-motorised transport in rural areas. Apparently 15 000 bicycles are being earmarked for distribution in the area.
The Department is also engaged in projects to meet the transport needs of disabled persons. Pilot projects have been started in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg. The service provides transport to disabled persons when needed.
Mr Slabbert was concerned about the safety of children using bicycles in Kwazulu-Natal.
Mr Makokwane replied that in Kwazulu-Natal children often have to travel up to 40km to get to school. He added that they have realised that many of the roads are not tarred but that it is a matter that they are looking into. The bicycle, even though not a perfect means of transport, is still better than walking.
Mr Farrow asked what constructive plans are on the table for dealing with rail and road subsidies. He also asked if funds for upgrading in the provinces should be ring-fenced.
Mr Makokwane replied that they have had discussions with the National Treasury on the subject. Provinces have been asked to set aside 40% of their budgets for road infrastructure. He added that improvement of service levels is also being looked at.
The Director-General noted that ring fencing is taking place to a certain extent but that it should be extended to funds used for road maintenance.
Ms Munumzana asked whether the Departments of Trade and Industry and Transport are working together on the recapitalisation of the taxi industry. Why are there delays?
Mr Msikinya replied that they have formed a joint steering committee of which he is the chairperson. His department is awaiting the delivery of vehicles from Trade and Industry. He stated that the problem seems to be the high cost of the vehicles.
Mr G Scheemann (ANC) asked if people are moving back to rail or further away from it.
Mr Makokwane replied that they are currently facing problems with safety and maintenance of rail transport. Further problems are the unreliability of trains and the outdated technology that is used. He conceded that these are all problems that need to be addressed before rail can be restored to its former glory.
Mr Farrow commented that the solution is simple: upgrade the current rail system because the infrastructure is already in place. The costs of setting up a structure for road development would be far more.
The Minister of Transport, Mr Dullah Omar, stated that the answer to the freight transport issue does not lie with subsidisation. The answer lies with efficient law enforcement to prevent overloading which would in turn reduce the number of accidents on the roads. The Minister stated that weigh bridges must operate all the time so as to promote consistency. Many trucks try to dodge these weigh bridges to escape paying toll fees. He strongly felt that an end must be put to this practice.
Minister Omar stated that this was the first year that Cabinet has stated that they want to see a shift from road to rail. The Minister added that there is renewed focus on dealing with problems of safety and fare-evasion on rail. There is a commitment from both Metrorail and Spoornet to improve management. Discussions are also ongoing on ways and means of making rail travel more attractive.
He felt that if the recapitalisation process is to work, they need the co-operation of the taxi industry. Progress has been made by means of the formation of taxi councils in seven of the provinces. Mr Omar explained that a conference would be held shortly where these councils would have to elect national leadership. The fact that the taxi industry would have a national representative body would greatly facilitate discussions. The Minister however stressed the need for much work to be done.
The Chair added that much debate would still take place on the rail issue. The need to explore a variety of possibilities should be encouraged.
Mr Slabbert felt that the rail issue should be handled by the Department of Trade and Industry and not by the Department of Transport.
Mr Niemann (NNP) stated that all political parties would like to see the problems of the taxi industry being taken care of once and for all. He asked the Minister to invite all parties to the national conference and not only members of the ANC.
Road Traffic Management
Mr Hennie van Tonder, head of Road Traffic Management, informed the committee on their plans for 2001. The following are some of the issues that he touched on:
-Traffic legislation is being developed to have better control over the tow-trucking industry.
- The Department of Education has been asked to include road traffic education as part of their curriculum from preschool to Grade 12.
- The recording of information on accidents must also become more accurate.
- Uniformity in the giving of fines and combating of corruption are issues that require closer scrutiny.
In trying to attain their goals, they had to overcome the challenges of capacity problems within their department and communication with other stakeholders. He noted that like any other department they also suffer from budgetary constraints.
Mr Slabbert asked what is being done about bribery and corruption.
Mr van Tonder felt that they have not applied their minds properly to address the problem. He was confident that if certain strict management principles were to be applied it would alleviate the problem. The problem is worsened by the fact that as traffic penalties become harsher, the likelihood of a bribe being offered becomes greater.
The meeting was adjourned.
ROAD TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT
21 February 2001
What Is Our Business
Traffic safety and quality on our road and street network
Road Traffic Management System
-Accident investigation and recording
-Traffic law enforcement
-Vehicle and driver testing
-Vehicle and driver licensing
Road Traffic Management Corporation Act (RTMC) implementation
Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act (AARTO) implementation
Road to safety
Traffic Legislation Plans for 2001/2002
-Tow truck bill
-Amend National Road Traffic legislation
Communication Plans for 2000/2001
-Intense support for law enforcement
Education Plans for 2001/2002
-Road safety curriculum
-Training of trainers
-Education material for schools
-Pedestrian education: support materials
-Training of communities
Traffic Information Plans for 2001/2002
-upgrading National Traffic Information System (NaTIS)
-New NaTIS contract awarded
-Establishment of national call centre
Accident Investigation & Recording Plans for 2001/2002
Investigation into at least 12 serious accidents
Traffic Law Enforcement Plans for 2001/2002
-Updating of training modules
-Overloading control strategy
Adjudication Plans for 2001/2002
-Implementing of Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act (AARTO).
-More appropriate fines and penalties
Infrastructure Plans for 2001/2002
-Further promotion of road signs manual and education of authorities
-Promotion of road safety manual and education of authorities
-Use of intelligent transport systems to be investigated
Vehicle and Driver Testing Plans for 2001/2002
Vehicle and Driver Licensing Plans for 2001/2002
New requirements PrDP
-Road safety (short term projects)
- Road Traffic Management Corporation
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