Railway Safety Bill: public hearings day 1

This premium content has been made freely available


23 August 2022
Chairperson: Mr M Zwane (ANC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary


The Committee received public submissions on the Railway Safety Bill from the Bombela Concession Company, the Gautrain Management Agency, the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). The Bill intends to regulate railway safety, provide for railway safety permits, and repeal the National Railway Safety Regulator Act, 2002; inter alia.

Bombela Concession Company argued that the word "reasonably" should be inserted in section 39(3) of the Railway Safety Bill, just before "a specified time." The time to provide information should be subject to a level of reasonableness. It proposed that an inspector should be permitted to enter a premise only if it was safe to do so. The Committee said that "reasonableness" allowed one to consider matters that might not ordinarily be within the law. If an inspector entered a premise only when it was safe to do so, this would allow people to hide and get rid of evidence.

Gautrain Management Agency commented that it was absurd that the board should elect an acting chairperson if the chairperson him/herself, or his or her deputy, remained available to discharge chairing responsibilities. The Members were not happy that the word "absurd" was used, and explained that the selection of a board was an intense process. These arrangements seemed the same as those for this Committee -- when the Chairperson was unavailable, the Members elected an acting Chairperson.

PRASA said there should be a timeline for the outcome of an application for safety permits. There should be railway police to ensure the safety of railway crossings. It also recommended that less harsh sanctions should be imposed in instances where there was a failure to report a crime or incident. The Committee asked PRASA to expand on their submission regarding the railway police. It said that introducing a timeline for the outcome of applications for safety permits could undermine their effectiveness, as there might be issues identified that the Regulator had to address and resolve. Safety had to come first.

COSATU was happy with the introduction of the Bill, and supported many of its clauses. However, it was disappointed that organised labour was not represented on the board. Legislation should be clear, and say who was responsible for the safety of railway crossings. The Committee suggested that a conflict of interest might arise if organised labour became part of the board.

Meeting report

Opening remarks

Mr L McDonald (ANC) asked for clarity on whether it had not been decided earlier that the Railway Safety Bill public hearings would be held in person.

The Chairperson said that the Committee was not at that stage yet. These were submissions in the beginning stage. The public hearings of the Railway Safety Bill would be held in person at a later stage.

The Secretary of the Committee agreed that the Chairperson was correct, and these public hearings would be held later on.

Mr M Chabangu (EFF) also asked about the clarity of the public hearings, which the Chairperson had already answered.

Mr K Sithole (IFP) asked that the Department of Transport (DOT) address the filling of potholes.

Railway Safety Bill submissions

Bombela Concession Company

Mr Tawanda Shamu, Head of Legal and Commercial Department, Bombela Concession Company, took the Committee through its submission of the Railway Safety Bill. He clarified that Bombela Concession Company was a private company.

He said section 30(1) stated only that any person who wanted to undertake any railway or railway operation must apply to the Regulator, in the prescribed manner, for a safety permit. The rest of this subsection should be removed.

He referred to several definitions in the Bill. There was a particular focus on "safety permit", "operator" and "network operator". The safety permit should be defined as a permit licence issued to a concession network operator, a network operator, or a station operator -- or any combination thereof -- to construct, operate or maintain a railway operation. There was a further explanation of the definitions of "concession network operator" and "public-private partnership arrangement." There should be a new definition for all of these. The wording of "operator" should be amended, and an operator is defined as a network operator, train operator, station operator, or any combination thereof. In the wording of the network operator, the word "ultimately" should be removed. The word created confusion.

In section 7(1)(a) of the Bill, the word "reasonable" should be inserted after the word "efficient." This would help to advance the general objectives of the Bill. In section 39(3), the word "reasonably" should be inserted before "a specified time." The time to provide information should be subject to a level of reasonableness.

Mr Shamu said that a railway safety inspector may enter and search any premises provided it was safe to do so. He suggested that this be inserted into section 44(3)(a) of the Bill. When developing guidelines for safe railways and railway operators, this should be done in consultation with the operators (section 7(1)(d)(i) of the Bill. In section 31(2), the words "after consultation with the affected network operator" should be inserted before the word "impose." The words "justifiable circumstances" in this section were also vague. What constituted justifiable circumstances?

Section 30(5)(a)(i) was vague. It did not set out the measures that the Regulator would use to determine the duration of the permit.

Sections 27(b), 30(2) and 66 dealt with the fees paid to the Regulator as determined by the Minister. How the fees were determined was not specified. It was suggested that annual increases be subjected to a reasonable cap.

The words "at the cost of the Regulator" should be inserted in section 30(4), just after the word "review." This must be done to identify who should pay for the review costs because, currently, it is unclear. He proposed that the power to suspend or revoke a safety permit, as in section 33(2), should sit with the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), provided that the CEO had board approval to take such action. Given the extreme consequences of such an action, it was preferable for this power to sit with a higher decision-making body.

(See the presentation for more details)


Mr McDonald said that reasonableness allowed one to consider things that might not ordinarily be within the law. He disagreed with including "reasonable" in sections 7(1)(a) and 39(2) of the Bill, and also expressed his disagreement with adding "provided that it was safe to do so." The purpose was to enter the premises and take things, such as documents, when an accident had occurred or an incident was being investigated. It could not state when it was safe to do so, as this allowed people to hide things.

He agreed with the statement that how fees were determined should be specified, and the annual increases should be capped. The poor could not have another huge increase in railway service costs. Requiring approval from the CEO to suspend or revoke a safety permit could not happen. There could not be a situation where an operator was operating unsafely on the lines, and he or she had to wait for the board to decide.

Mr Sithole asked why Bombela Concession Company had not included their suggested wording for sections 27(b), 30(2) and 66. What were their thoughts?

Mr C Hunsinger (DA) said that the presentation had been well aligned. It identified uncertainties and risks in the structure of the Bombela Concession Company and the Gauteng Provincial Government. In Bombela's current experience, were there any additional risks and uncertainties in this structure, and how would this new Bill then introduce these particular uncertainties and risks? Were these the only risks and uncertainties, or were there more? Did the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) adequately cover the potential risks that interfaced between the public and private sectors? Did they consider the PFMA in its current form adequate to deal with all the potential things that could go wrong in this relationship? In the current circumstances, and taking into consideration all their years of experience, how would they define "reasonableness," and how could it be improved in its suggested form?

Concerning sections 27(b), 30(2) and 66, he asked what conditions of checks and balances the Bombela Concession Company would suggest that could improve the conditions, where it was suggested in its original wording that the Minister should determine the fees paid to the Regulator? What other checks and balances might be of consideration? Maybe the Tribunal or Parliament?

Bombela Concession Company's response

Mr Shamu said that the definition of reasonableness would always be a contentious one. Reasonableness did give the Rail Safety Regulator (RSR) some flexibility in terms of how to execute their particular functions, while at the same time giving operators the protection that they needed in terms of the RSR Act. It added a level of balance between the rights of the Regulator and the various rights of the operators. To enter the premises if it was safe did not mean that the operator would be able to decide whether it was safe to enter the premises or not. This was not the intention at all. It was to protect the actual inspector him/herself, and the various parties involved.

The determination of fees, and the suggestion of the Bombela Concession Company, had been left blank intentionally. It was difficult to impose how these fees were supposed to be determined, because many factors had to be considered. It would come down to what would be reasonable in the circumstances and the funding to execute their functions.

The risk and uncertainties identified in the presentation were those of Bombela Concession Company. There might be additional risks and uncertainties that the Gauteng Provincial Government had identified.

Regarding the PFMA, the submission was made only in the context of the definitions, and was not aimed at the broader discussion, such as its effectiveness. It was difficult for a private sector party to try and dictate checks and balances, state functions and how fees should be calculated. However, there should be transparency.

Gautrain Management Agency

Mr Tshepo Kgobe, Chief Operating Officer (COO), Gautrain Management Agency, said that a concession agreement between Bombela Concession Company and the Agency had been concluded. He explained the Gautrain public-private partnership.

The Gautrain Management Agency welcomed the clauses such as sections 7(1) (a), 13(d), 30(3), and 30(5), read with 30(10), 30(6) and 31(2) of the Railway Safety Bill.

He noted that the definitions of station operator, train operator and network operator seemed to be included only to clarify the meaning of "operator." It was recommended that the definition of operator be made with express reference to a safety permit holder or its assignee. It was recommended that the phrase "the position of chairperson or deputy chairperson becomes" in clause 12(4) be replaced with the phrase "both the positions of chairperson and deputy chairperson become" in clause 12(4). It was absurd for the board to elect an acting chairperson. The term of office and conditions of service of board members in clause 13(1)(c) should be rephrased, so that its objective was explicitly clear as to whether or not it was informed by a need to regularly rotate board members or to enable the Minister to lay off up to one-third of poorly-performing non-executive members, subject to an annual board evaluation.

The delegation of the board in clause 20(1) was suggested to ensure that delegations did not derogate from a multi-disciplinary approach to decision-making envisaged by the composition of the board, to prevent sweeping delegation of the board's authority, and to introduce checks and balances that facilitate natural rules of justice relating to impartiality and conflict of interests, and that parameters within which a function, duty or power of the board would be delegated, would be outlined in the Bill. It would also be useful to specify functions or powers which the board was precluded from delegating, even to a committee of the board.

In conclusion, the Bill was welcomed by the Gautrain Management Agency, and it recommended that the Committee consider effecting the changes as proposed.

(See the presentation for more details)


Mr Hunsinger asked what the Gautrain Management Agency regarded as unreasonable in the current Railway Safety Regulator Act. Reference had been made to development fees, but what other elements were unreasonable? It was suggested that the competency level of board members be improved concerning the poor performance of board members. It was said that the board should function properly. What did the Agency see as a properly functioning board? What functions did they expect from the board members?

Mr P Mey (FF+) said that buses were operated by Unitrans. He was unaware of Unitrans, and wanted to know more about it.

Mr T Mabhena (DA) said that he had an issue with the suggestion for clause 12(4). It seemed that the Gautrain Management Agency had an issue with the chairperson and deputy chairperson of the board. The Agency had commented that it was absurd that the board should elect an acting chairperson if the chairperson him/herself, or his or her deputy, remained available to discharge chairing responsibilities. These arrangements seemed the same as this Committee -- when the Chairperson was unavailable, the Members would elect an Acting Chairperson. Why had they said it was absurd for the board to select an acting chairperson? The appointment of the board itself was an intense process. The board should be able to perform its duties.

The Chairperson agreed with Mr Mabhena.

Gautrain Management Agency's response

Mr Kgobe said that the issue of reasonableness was related to issues of development fees that he had raised earlier. The development fees were for anyone who wanted to change their system, additional rolling stock or additional plans for buildings and railway lines. Attached to these fees was a very complicated table where one could not be clear about how much one would have to pay. It was not a question of unreasonableness, but that it was arbitrarily designed. The Agency had had no input, and it became challenging when they were asked how the fee was determined and when it would be charged. The development fee for the Gautrain Management Agency had been charged immediately, three to four years from when the RSR would be doing any work. Why did the fee have to be paid immediately?

In general, the other provisions were functional and focused on the development fees here. How fees were linked to any particular application for a permit must be in line in such a manner that it identified when the activities of the RSR would occur. This would allow them to budget accordingly for projects and future planning.

The board comprised a multi-disciplinary team of people with engineering and operating skills. Those skills mirrored the development of the railways themselves. The Gautrain Management Agency was just suggesting that more people with financial and professional skills, for instance, be considered. Unitrans was a company that was still all Bombela and Gautrain -- it was just a sub-contractor operating the buses.

He said that their comments were just suggestions, and that "absurd" might not have been the correct word -- that is, without adding the word "temporary" to Clause 12(4). This was not intended as a temporary measure while certain processes were still occurring. The clause might be misconstrued to mean that the board had the right to appoint their own setups going forward, instead of the Minister and the Department. The Minister was the one who made the appointments, without adding them as a temporary measure. The board made temporary appointments until the final appointments had been made. This clarified the issue, and the word "absurd" was withdrawn. If a reader did not understand that it was a temporary measure, it might be misconstrued, and therefore it had been submitted as one of the issues.

Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA)

An official of PRASA identified several issues from rail infrastructure security and the common safety standard in its submission.

In section 30(5)(b), PRASA made several recommendations, such as that the Bill should consider prescribing a timeline for communicating the outcome of the safety permit application. The period for consideration of an application should be extended by operation of law to a defined and stated period in the Bill, amongst other things.

Section 33(6) relating to the suspension of a safety permit for reasons unrelated to safety concerns, was undesirable. The suspension/revocation of duly issued safety permits should be orders of the last resort, as they had the effect of stopping an operator's business, many of which were per legislative mandates. It was undesirable and unnecessary for the Board or the Regulator, in their instance, to review or amend the conditions of a safety permit during its operations.

Section 20 of the Bill proposed a wholesale assignment/delegation by the board of its powers and obligations, even to the CEO and other operational functionaries. The difficulty this brought was that it obfuscates the separation of the Board and the Regulator, which the CEO and other key operational functionaries were. It was suggested that certain roles of the board should not be delegated, other than to a committee of the board.

PRASA said that it was undesirable for the Regulator to deal with matters that were within the remit of an operator in the manner expressed in section 40(1)(e). Consequently, any residual application under section 40(2) should be deleted.

Section 35(2) impelled the board to develop such a policy. Yet, in sections 68(c) and (d), it appeared that this would be encapsulated in a regulation to be issued by the Minister, and therefore be a ministerial prerogative. It was suggested that the Bill should clarify whether the Board or the Minister had the authority or the overlap of the respective authorities regarding setting the criteria for the registration of training institutions.

Sections 54, 55 and 56 dealt with the appeal process, but did not indicate what the effect of an appeal process was. To accord with known / common procedural rules, the Bill should provide for the suspension of the decision pending the prosecution of the appeal, especially those decisions that had the effect of stopping a regulated activity -- for example, operations. To avoid abuse of the appeal process, it was suggested that the Bill may specify/provide the grounds for appeal.

The Bill created a plethora of new crimes where the sanction may not fit the crime or be appropriate. PRASA suggested that a maximum of 12 months imprisonment with an alternative of a fine should be implemented if the sanctions matched the particular crime. The failure to report a crime or incident had strict liability. The Bill proposed a maximum of five years imprisonment -- the sanction should be at least 12 months imprisonment.

The Bill should clarify under what circumstances a single director would be held individually liable. Section 59 of the Bill expected a director to take "all steps" reasonable to ensure that the entity did not commit a crime. It was at odds with the business judgment rule and expectation that the Board should have a mix of skills and expertise. The phrase "..all steps.." may raise the difficulty of interpretation. It was undesirable to make a quantitative requirement on a matter intended to be qualitative. The offences created under this Bill should require purposeful / "wilful" intent on the part of the accused. Lack of conduct by an operator or its employees should not attract criminal liability merely for failure to conduct oneself, or through one's employees, in a manner that drew non-compliance. It was not competent for liability for criminal conduct, or at least the offences created in this Bill, to be attributable to a person on a principal agency or vicarious liability. It was recommended that section 58 of the Bill be deleted.

(See the presentation for more details)


Mr Hunsinger asked for clarity on PRASA's position concerning the timelines for permits and the fee structure. What was the balance necessary between the business plan of an RSR vs safety? There had been a decline in safety, especially in the metro rail environment. Could they comment on that? PRASA's solution to the failure to report transgressions was to have less harsh sanctions. What was PRASA's position on safety elements and less harsh sanctions?

Referring to section 59, the issue around all steps that should be taken and the particular interpretation of "all steps", he said that there was a contrast between an undesirable requirement and qualitative and quantitative matters in the solutions. He asked for an explanation of why PRASA found it necessary to include the King IV report in this. How did it relate to this?

Mr Mabhena asked what action PRASA wanted from the Committee regarding the railway police. Did PRASA not have their own internal security? Should the railway police be a specific South African Police Service (SAPS) unit? PRASA was asking the government to intervene. It was as if it wanted to avoid responsibility and requested that SAPS do it.

PRASA had suggested that the Bill should engender and encourage interface and interoperability between the major operators, and all state-owned enterprises (SOEs). What was stopping PRASA from collaborating with other SOEs to ensure the security of the railway network? Why should a directive be issued to force collaboration? Why should the Bill require the South African National Standards (SANS) 3000 series to be adopted? What stopped PRASA from doing this? Why should legislation force this? Why did PRASA not approach the Regulator? What steps had been taken? Has anything been done so far?

It had been suggested that the Bill should consider prescribing a timeline for communicating the outcome of safety permit applications. It should preferably be not less than 15 days before the expiry of the current permit if an operator was applying for a renewal. What was the current timeline, and what exactly was wrong with the current timeline?

The period for consideration of an application should be extended by operation of law to a defined and stated period in the Bill -- for example, a fixed time period, failing which the Regulator should be obligated to pronounce on the application or be deemed to have made a stated pronouncement. This was problematic. If the Regulator did not return to an operator within the time they wanted them to, their work would become obsolete, especially if material findings were made. What if the Regulator was still busy addressing the issues they had discovered?

The suspension of duly issued safety permits should be orders of last resort, as this had the effect of stopping an operator's business, many of which were per legislative mandates. This was problematic. What if there was a failure to pay fees or levies? The Regulator had to collect all of these fees. If an operator failed to pay them, what mechanisms did the Regulator have to hold them accountable? If the Regulator did not issue a safety permit based on the non-payment of fees or levies, that would encourage the operator to honour the agreements and duties due to the Regulator. The incident reported indicated the issue of accountability. PRASA had stated that an individual could not be held personally liable. What did they mean by that?

He asked for clarity on what PRASA was doing about soliciting funds. Many people were desperate and had paid for permanent employment, and someone had scammed them and run away with the funds. What was PRASA doing about this?

PRASA's response

An official said the railway police should be a branch of their own. This would just be a reaction to the acts of vandalism and issues on the ground. PRASA did not want to avoid responsibility. There had been steps taken to collaborate and cooperate with other operators. Safety and security plans had also been provided. For example, there had been an interface with Transnet and Gauteng on critical infrastructure. PRASA did not want legislation to force collaboration. It should just allow the Regulator to call upon all operators and create a forum to discuss all safety issues.

Common safety standards could be adapted to fit the environment. For purposes of legality, it was recommended that the Bill address the adoption of the SANS 3000 series. The current timeline for the outcome of the safety permit was 90 days before the expiration. There might be issues that an operator wanted to discuss with the Regulator, but at the end of the 90 days, a determination may not have been made whether the operator was entitled to a safety permit or not. There were circumstances where the Regulator would extend the permit in the current legislation, and the Bill did not propose an extension of an expired permit. So, instead of creating difficulties for the Regulator, it should make a provision that an extension could be given, subject to certain conditions. It was not forcing the Regulator to do so; it was just to create certainty, because if operators carried on with a lack of clarity about the safety permit, they might face criminal charges or lose their insurance coverage.

A Regulator could prohibit an operator from operating if there was non-compliance. When there was a failure to pay levies or fees, the Regulator had the means to recover the fees, and penalties should be paid. If a person was going to be held criminally liable, there must be a measure that showed that the person had intentionally failed to do what was supposed to have been done. PRASA did not propose that the person be held criminally liable. The crime should be based on a demonstrable and wilful intention to avoid reporting. Therefore, the intention must be the basis for such an offence. The offences created under this Bill should require purposeful /wilful intent on the part of the accused.

The phrase "all steps" could be misinterpreted. The board had members, all of whom had different skill sets. Requiring them to do "all steps" reasonable to ensure that the entity did not commit a crime was requiring too much of them and overstepping their requirements. The King IV report must be applied, because it was good for a board that was not ordinarily manageable.

The Chairperson asked PRASA to revert back to the Committee on the issue of soliciting funds.

Congress of South African Trade Unions

Mr Matthew Parks, Deputy Parliamentary Coordinator, Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), welcomed the long overdue Railway Safety Bill. COSATU supported the progressive provisions in the Bill, but was concerned that many of the key clauses in the Bill were silent, vague, or worrying in many important aspects. These included, but were not limited to, no fixed requirements of the board to meet annually, vagueness about the composition of the consultative forum, and denying employees the right to appeal to the CEO or Board's appeal committee.

Whilst COSATU supported the Bill, they were worried about the deafening silence on critical aspects. If they were not addressed, it would be a missed opportunity to address fundamental weaknesses in the Bill and the cancers threatening the very survival of Transnet and Metro Rail. This was something that workers and the economy simply could not afford. COSATU had hoped that Parliament would exercise its constitutional powers to amend and strengthen what was otherwise a progressive and critical bill.

COSATU was deeply disappointed that the Bill failed to provide for representation of organised labour on the Board (clause 10). Workers ran the railways. They had extensive experience in railway safety matters and would bring invaluable knowledge and expertise to the Board. Their inclusion would help ensure the collective buy-in of workers tasked with the safe running of rail networks. COSATU suggested a new sub-clause, 10 (1) (b), should be inserted, providing for not less than two representatives of organised labour reflective of passenger and freight rail to be selected by organised labour, and included on the Board.

Clause 15 (d) (I) and (II) prohibit the inclusion of any person in the employ of government, be it in the public service or any other organ of the state. This would prohibit any worker employed by Transnet or Metro Rail from serving on the Board. Sub-clause 15 (d) (II) should be extended to exclude organised labour representatives from Sub-Clauses 15 (d) (I) and (II).

Clause 17 was silent on the minimum requirement of board meetings to take place annually. This was contrary to the norm in legislation, which stipulates that boards should meet at least once per quarter. The Bill should be amended to require the Board to meet at least quarterly.

The Bill was silent on the constitutional right to collective bargaining, and for workers to be engaged in their conditions of service -- clause 23(2)(a), (3) and (4). Provisions in the Bill undermine collective bargaining and occur against a backdrop of government increasingly seeking to collapse or at least ignore collective bargaining and the voice of workers. It was suggested that sub-clauses 24 (2) (a) and (3) be amended to include "in consultation with organised labour and subject to any collective agreement," and sub-clause 24 (4) be amended to provide for employees of the Regulator to be included under the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) and the Government Employees Medical Scheme (GEMS).

Clause 38 provides for the establishment of consultative forums, yet it does not indicate or provide any criteria for who should be included in such a forum. This could undermine the very progressive intention of this clause. It was recommended that sub-clause 38 (4) should be amended to specify that such forums' makeup should depend on the circumstances and objectives of the forums, including representation from organised labour, commuters, businesses, civil society, communities and relevant government departments.

Sub-clause 44 (6) limited enforcement inspections to between 08h00 and 17h00 during workdays, unless authorised by a judge or magistrate. This was an unnecessary infringement upon the powers of inspectors -- an unnecessary limitation on inspectors' ability to fulfil their duties. It may aid those at fault and provide them advance time to dispose of incriminating evidence. Sub-clause 44 (6) should simply be deleted or amended to empower enforcement inspections to occur at any time or date, as the need arises.

Sub-clause 54 (1) denies employees of the Regulator the right to appeal to the CEO. This was an unconstitutional infringement on the right of such workers. The Bill provides no other recourse for such workers. This exclusion must simply be removed.

Sub-clause 55 (1) denies employees of the Regulator the right to appeal to the Board's appeals committee. This was an unconstitutional infringement on the right of such workers. The Bill provides no other recourse for such workers. This exclusion must simply be removed.

The Bill was silent on who was responsible for the safety of pedestrians and commuters at rail crossings and along rail lines. Many rail crossings, urban and rural, lack sufficient or any safety provisions and are completely unsecured. This resulted in the deaths of pedestrians and commuters. It was suggested that a new clause be inserted to indicate who was responsible for securing crossings and lines, and what the differing responsibilities of Transnet, Metro Rail, and provincial and local government were.

Millions of rands worth of copper cable were stolen monthly from Transnet and Metro Rail. This had caused delays in services and, at times, death in rail accidents. More than 100 metro rail carriages had been destroyed in arson attacks that had cost millions of rands and service delays. Only a few arrests had been made. This was rampant criminality and theft. With little effect, billions had been spent on what was often very inefficient private security for Metro Rail and Transnet. It was submitted that the South African Police Service should re-establish a dedicated railway policing unit, and that the South African National Defence Force be deployed to assist SAPS to re-establish the security and control of railway lines, particularly commuter lines.

(See the presentation for more details)


Mr Hunsinger asked what other ideas COSATU had to enhance railways, commuters, vehicles and pedestrians from a railway safety regulator point of view. How could the RSR enhance its efforts for railway safety in a legislative manner?

Mr Sithole asked how the issues of vandalism could be prevented. How many members should be included on the board?

Mr Mabhena said that COSATU wanted to insert a new clause in the Bill, specifically in clause 10, to include organised labour in the board that ran the Regulator. He said that this board was not a bargaining council but a board that looks into this sector. What was the solution that was being suggested, and what criteria would be used to include organised labour? The selection of a board was an elaborative process, and included people with experience. It was suggested that two people from organised labour be included on the board, the same board that made executive decisions that would impact the workforce. What about a conflict of interest? What would happen then? What would the contribution of organised labour be on such a board? If organised labour ran the board, there would be a serious breach.

COSATU's response

Mr Parks said that railway crossings were always a risk, so legislation should be clear about who was responsible for railway safety. This was not as complicated as it was made out to be. At some railway crossings in Johannesburg, Cape Town and other areas, there were no security guards at railway crossings. The state was at fault. COSATU had engaged with Metro Rail, the Department and other major stakeholders to identify where responsibilities lay. Inserting the clause would make it clear for people to report railway safety, especially those who did not know where to report such matters. Norms and standards should be included in the Bill. There had been an unfortunate event in which a taxi driver had crossed a railway crossing and innocent children had died. This would not have happened if security guards had been at the railway crossing.

In terms of vandalism, good efforts had been made by the government to deal with the theft of copper cables, and the involvement of scrap dealers. This was something that would take some time to deal with. There needed to be a defence force to protect the railway networks before they were destroyed. The SAPS railway unit had to be revived.

The criteria for organised labour should include people with expertise in the field -- the drivers, the conductors, security guards and all the other staff members. They were on the ground and the ones that lost their lives if something went wrong. They were the ones with experience. They should be able to raise their concerns and see how the challenges could be resolved. The board could not exist without people with experience in labour law and human resources. For example, in Japan, Germany and Sweden, worker representatives made contributions. There should be two people from organised labour, because the transfer of goods and the transport of passengers have different requirements. If there was a conflict of interest, they could be recused. This issue had been discussed before, specifically with the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) board. COSATU hoped the Committee would see the value of organised labour on the board.

Closing remarks

The Chairperson thanked everyone for their submissions, and informed the Committee that Bombela Operating Company wants to submit to the next meeting. He asked the Committee for their input.

Mr McDonald said that any input to the Bill would make it better, and agreed to Bombela Operating Company making its submission.

The meeting was adjourned.

Download as PDF

You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.

See detailed instructions for your browser here.

Share this page: