National Road Traffic A/B & Economic Regulation of Transport Bill: consideration

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13 September 2022
Chairperson: Mr M Zwane (ANC)
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Meeting Summary


Tabled Committee Reports

In a virtual meeting, the Portfolio Committee on Transport was due to do clause-by-clause deliberations on the National Road Traffic Amendment Bill and the Economic Regulation of Transport Bill. However, this could not be done. The Bills had not been printed due to loadshedding and the additional amendments had not been made. The Department of Transport and the Office of State Law Adviser did however go over the primarily drafted amendments for both Bills with the Committee.

The Committee was not satisfied and requested a clean document with a report to be discussed on Friday, 16 September 2022.

Meeting report

The Chairperson informed the Committee that the clause-by-clause deliberations on the National Road Traffic Amendment Bill and the Economic Regulation of Transport Bill could not go ahead because the Bills could not be printed due to loadshedding. Secondly, amendments were made after the Committee had dealt with these Bills. There were additions beyond what had already been done. These amendments must be dealt with to ensure that the Bills are ready to be adopted. After what was agreed to in this meeting, the Department of Transport (DOT) officials must do what was necessary to ensure that the Bills were brought to the Committee for further processing.

Mr T Mabhena (DA) agreed with the Chairperson.

Mr C Hunsinger (DA) also agreed with the Chairperson. He said that he understood that the documents could not be printed, but a different arrangement should have been made. There are notifications on when loadshedding will occur. It was disappointing to hear this especially from a legal department.

Ms Thiloshini Gangen, Parliamentary Legal Advisor, said they encountered some difficulties. The State Law Advisor had been ill, making it difficult to finalise the amendments. They function as a team, and difficulties occur with one person being ill.

Ms Ayesha Johaar, Deputy Chief State Law Advisor, Office of State Law Advisor, apologised for the delays and said that the illness of the State Law Advisor was not an excuse for non-performance. Other people had been placed on the team to assist and meet the demands of the Committee to finalise the Bills. There has been consultation with both the Parliamentary Legal Advisor and the DOT. The DOT had indicated that there were proposals that they wanted the Committee to entertain. The Office of State Law Advisor had considered the proposals. It was of the view that they were not unconstitutional and not unlawful in any way, but that the final decision on their desirability was up to the Committee. The Economic Regulation of Transport Bill had been considered. The corrections and improvements had been worked on and the Office of State Law Adviser wanted to ensure that this was reflected on a clean document that was ready to be printed and supplied to the Committee. The queries from the Committee Content Advisor, Adv Alma Nel, have been considered and responses have been prepared.

The Chairperson invited the DOT to raise their issues now with the Committee. The Committee did not agree with what they were hearing and said that such excuses would not be entertained in the future.

Ms Phumulele Ngema, Parliamentary Legal Advisor, apologised to the Committee and said that difficulties were sometimes faced. There were electronic versions of the main changes made to the Bill. She asked if the Committee would allow them to read them because most issues were on the reshuffling of technical changes and clauses being rejected. Certain clauses had to move around to ensure they were in the correct space.

Mr L Mangcu (ANC) observed that it was very strange that the Acting Director-General (DG) of the DOT was not available for this meeting and had not sent an apology. He asked what the reason was.

Ms Rirhandzu Mashava, Deputy Director-General (DDG): Integrated Transport Planning, DOT, said that the acting DG was attending a meeting with the Portfolio Committee on Tourism and that she had been asked to represent him in this meeting.

The Chairperson said that the DOT must not think that this Committee could not hold them accountable.

Mr L McDonald (ANC) agreed with the Chairperson. He said that the DOT was making amendments that the Committee knew nothing about. The Committee had not been consulted on these amendments. It could not be like this. The DOT did not appear to trust the Committee to do its work.

Mr Hunsinger said a process needed to be followed before the finalisation of these Bills. There were implications if documents were not provided. He said it was unnecessary to have deliberations today because the discussion would be senseless.

Ms Mashava apologised for the confusion and said that the DOT appreciated the work that the Committee had done. The Committee’s concerns were noted.

National Road Traffic Amendment Bill

Ms Valerie Carelse, Secretary, Portfolio Committee on Transport, said that corrections were made to the National Road Traffic Amendment Bill. It would be valuable for the Committee to see those technical changes and corrections in anticipation of the finalisation of the Bill.

Ms Ngema showed the Committee the technical corrections that had to be made. These included removing or adding commas, full stops and words. Certain titles did not read the same as the actual Bill, and this would cause confusion, so it had to be corrected.

Mr Hunsinger said that it was difficult to follow what should and has been done regarding the National Road Traffic Amendment Bill.

The Chairperson said there had to be a clean document with a report submitted to the Committee.

Mr Mangcu agreed with Mr Hunsinger. The programme of this Committee was already tight, but there was still a willingness to push this legislation forward. He asked whether it would be possible to receive a clean document with a report and schedule an extra meeting on Friday to consider it.

Mr McDonald agreed with both the suggestion of the Chairperson and Mr Mangcu.

The Chairperson said that a meeting would be scheduled for this Friday.

Mr Hunsinger agreed.

Mr I Seitlholo (DA) said he would not be available this Friday but agreed that the meeting should still be held.

Mr Mabhena said he would attend the meeting this Friday but would have to leave early.

The Chairperson said that the meeting would be on Friday at 09h00.

Economic Regulation of Transport Bill

Ms Johaar said that corrections, such as inserting definitions in alphabetical order, rearranging paragraphs, inserting subsections, and adding or removing words, had to be made. It also had to be explained why there were no brackets or underlined words because this was a new Bill and not amendments made to an existing Bill.

Mr Mangcu asked for clarity on whether the DOT must still confirm the proposals made by the Committee. If so, what would the rationale be for referring to the DOT after the Committee has deliberated and the legal team has confirmed the legal soundness of the proposals?

Mr McDonald said it was disturbing that the DOT wanted to add a clause on selling an aerodrome that had not even been brought to the Committee.

Adv Nel explained that this was not something new. It was already in the Bill; it was just suggested that the word “Minister” be changed to “Regulator.”

Ms Mashava said that this was done to ensure it aligned with the current Airports Act.

Mr Moeketsi Sikhudo, Director, DOT apologised to the Committee for the delay. He said that changing the word “Minister” to “Regulator” was just an administrative change.

Mr Mangcu said that he believed that his clarity-seeking question had not been answered.

Ms Johaar explained that the role of the State Law Advisor was only to give effect to the instructions of the Committee, apart from drafting errors, substantive errors and corrections. When the DOT had indicated these changes to clause 56, for example, it was received as something that, if not amended, would be irregular. It is on this basis that the Office of State Law Advisor was persuaded that it is something that has not expressly been omitted by the Committee but did fall within the purview of the corrections that were required to ensure the implementability and workability of the Bill.

The Chairperson asked Ms Johaar if a clean document with a report could be provided.

Ms Johaar confirmed that this could be done.

Ms Carelse asked if the members of the Committee agreed.

Mr Mangcu said that this would only be decided once the clean document with the report has been received and reviewed.

Ms Carelse said that there should be a copy for a debate. However, if there is no agreement on Friday, the Committee might not be able to do a clause-by-clause deliberation and report on the Bill.

Mr M Chabangu (EFF) agreed with Mr Mangcu and said the matter should end here.

Closing remarks

Mr McDonald raised an additional issue of fuel being refused to Russian aircraft. There was no reason to refuse if this was done for business.

Mr Mahbena raised the issue of the devastating fire at OR Tambo Airport. He said that the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) should provide a report on it to the Committee.

The Chairperson accepted the suggestion. A report should be submitted to the Committee on the issue of OR Tambo.

Mr Hunsinger asked about processing the National Land Transport Amendment Bill that had been returned because of a constitutional conflict. He wanted to know how this should be dealt with. Would there be a joint meeting with the Select Committee at which the DOT would explain the changes and the improvements along with a legal advisory panel? He said that a joint meeting would just be duplication.

Ms Carelse said that such an issue would be dealt with in terms of the Joint Rules and that she would provide the Committee with a copy of these rules.

The meeting was adjourned.


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