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TRANSPORT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
25 August 2004
COMMITTEE STRATEGIC PLAN: ADOPTION
Chairperson: Mr J Cronin (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Draft Committee Strategic Plan, 2004-2009
All Parliamentary Committees had been asked to draw up Strategic Five-Year Plans. The Chairperson presented the Strategic Plan he had prepared and asked Members for their inputs that were then added. Members' concerns related to transport safety, the taxi industry, monitoring and assessment of the Department and related transport agencies, transport for the Soccer World Cup in 2010, and the provision of infrastructure through the Expanded Public Works programme.
Related to the Parliamentary Budget process, there had been a call to all Parliamentary Committees to develop Five-year Strategic Plans. The Chairperson, Mr Cronin, presented the Strategic Plan that he had mapped out and which had been distributed to Committee Members.
Of the five strategic areas outlined in the proposed Plan, the key area of focus was public transport, followed by the economic dimension, freight logistics. A third area of concern was transport safety and enforcement, and the last area highlighted was job creation, training and black empowerment in the transport sector. Important activities in each of these areas were then described.
Public transport activities included the various modes of transport, special needs of commuters and public transport in rural areas. Financial and legislative aspects that related to public transport needed to be assessed. Time frames were set for these public transport activities. These were the development of a substantial report to Parliament by mid-2005, the proposal to convene a national public transport sectoral summit in the first half of 2005 and to amend and extend the National Land Transport Transition Act by the end of 2005. Mr Cronin proposed that an interim progress report on the provision of public transport for the 2010 World Cup Soccer be submitted to Parliament before the end of 2007.
Freight Logistics activities related to port, rail and aviation traffic. Safety and regulation in the freight sector also needed to be monitored by the Committee. The timeframe set for a comprehensive report to Parliament on these issues was the first quarter of 2006.
With regard to the third area of concern, Transport Safety, Mr Cronin proposed that the Committee monitor the performance of the Road Traffic Management Corporation and the Arrive Alive Campaign. He proposed that the Road Accident Fund Amendment Bill be completed before the end of 2004 and thereafter that the Committee should monitor the performance of the RAF. Mr Cronin said a clearer position on the long-term transformation of the RAF should be established before the end of 2005.
On the issue of job creation and Black Empowerment, Mr Cronin said that the Committee would need to engage with the Government's Expanded Public Works Programme. The Committee needed to assess the effectiveness of the Transport Education and Training Authority (TETA) programs and contribute to the ongoing assessment of progress towards Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) and its impact in the transport sector.
Mr S Farrow (DA) said his party had highlighted the same issues that had been mentioned in the proposed Strategic Plan but added his concern about funding for national and provincial roads. He felt the Committee could assist the Department in trying to find ways to ensure that monies were targeted towards alleviating the backlog here. Second was his concern about vehicle testing and licensing stations. He said the Committee should be overseeing these areas. In regard to safety, he felt the Department did not seem able to put a finger on new safety measures that were coming onto the market. He also felt that HIV/Aids had an impact in the transport sector and needed to be dealt with. He said the time frames presented meant that everything would come together at the same time in 2005 and that could be problematic for the Committee.
Mr A Ainslie (ANC) suggested there be a review of all the institutional arrangements that affect the transport sector. In particular, a review of all the independent agencies was needed to see if better co-ordination could be established between the agencies and the Department. He also felt a general review of legislation was needed, as there were some gaps where things were not being regulated.
An ANC Member agreed that the National Land Transport Transition Act needed to be amended very urgently. He was also concerned about public transport for the World Cup and proposed there be an earlier review of what transport infrastructure was needed for this event. He said that if these infrastructure needs were not part of local IDP's they would not be on the local government's programme.
Ms D Morobi (ANC) asked under which category the monitoring of the informal privately owned transport used to take children to care centres would fall and how this monitoring would take place?
Mr B Mashile (ANC) said all parastatals in the transport sector should be looked at to assess their relevance and effectiveness in connection with Traffic Safety. He also wanted the Committee to monitor the performance of driver license facilities. He proposed investigating how port authorities were transforming with regard to job creation. Mr Mashile suggested that some earlier hearings take place with institutions involved in the World Cup preparations to see how transport needed to be improved. Lastly, he asked whether tax relief for public transport operators could be considered.
An opposition Member, Mr Green, brought up the issue of safety on trains in the Western Cape. He said the impression had been created that the public had very little support and had thus gone to court with their problems. He said train safety was different to road safety and needed to be investigated. On the issue of taxis, he said there was nothing in between for taxis in the period before the taxi re-capitalisation process takes off. He asked if an amount could be set aside from the public transport budget of R5 billion per year to improve or check the existing taxis so as to make them safer. On the issue of the 2010 World Cup he supported meeting with the big players and felt a progress report was needed before 2007. Who are the big players and when would the Committee meet with them?
Mr Farrow suggested looking at some of the transport legislation that had been put in place and assessing how implementation had gone in terms of the time frames stipulated in this legislation.
Ms M Nxumalo (ANC) brought to the attention of the Committee the lack of public transport to Soweto late at night. Informal operators using sedan cars were filling the gap and were using seriously overloaded vehicles (12 people in a car). She asked where this type of transport fitted into the strategic plan and how it was being monitored.
Mr Farrow said that there was nothing less than the 36-seater taxis in the taxi re-capitalisation legislation. For an efficient service the Committee needed to look at smaller types of passenger carriers.
Mr V Mabuyakhuli (ANC) spoke about violence on trains and how this long distance mode of transport had been stopped in Kwazulu-Natal because the public was afraid to use this service. He said a deliberate effort must be made to ensure that the Department curtails the violence and that it re-instates this efficient and reliable mode of transport.
Ms B Thomson (ANC) asked if the strategic plan could include the issue of barriers and railings that are being stolen from roads and bridges and then sold to scrap dealers. She asked why the latter was not being regulated. As regards "metered taxis" she said no one knew what was happening there.
The Chairmen noted that there had been no disagreements concerning the inputs from Members and that these should all be added to the strategic plan.
Starting with the taxi industry he said Taxi Re-capitilisation should rather be called Taxi Transformation (2.1.2) in the proposed Strategic Plan because there were a number of changes that could be made here.
He said Rural Public Transport and other Special needs (2.1.5) was a "catch all" heading that covered issues mentioned by Members such as transport of toddlers, the elderly and students and provision of late night public transport. These issues were all linked to the building of sustainable communities and thus interaction with local government planning and social development was needed.
As regards financing, he said the issue of subsidies referred to all modes of transport and included tax relief for operators as well as other fiscal measures to curtail the use of private motor vehicles. Innovative best practice from other cities should be investigated.
He suggested changing the time frame for the amending of the National Land Transport Transition Act from 2005 to 2006. Mr Cronin said 2007 was a bit late to have the first hearings with the World Cup Soccer stakeholders and suggested this be brought forward to 2006 and thereafter produced annual reports. He introduced a fifth priority area (2.5), Transport Infrastructure that he had previously included under the Job Creation category whereas it should be a standalone issue. A preliminary time frame set for this was 2007.
Mr Mashile asked whether the Committee should not be holding hearings with the World Cup organisers in the second half of 2005. Mr Cronin agreed that it was too early to hold hearings immediately but it was probably a good idea to meet earlier to ensure that the transport infrastructure did not only service stadiums, airports and hotels but that broad empowerment would result.
Mr Farrow said the Committee should be careful that it did not replicate hearings that had been set up by the Department of Sport and Recreation. Mr Cronin agreed that liaison had to take place as they were not the lead Committee in this matter. Job creation would be included under ports as well.
In terms of Transport Safety, Mr Cronin said there was some constructive points that had been raised such as vehicle testing, the credit card system and licensing. He said security or issues of violence on all modes needed to be discussed. There had been a general acknowledgement that the South African Police Services (SAPS) were responsible for this and a rail police unit was under training for a pilot programme in Cape Town. This initiative needed to be monitored.
Mr Mabuyakhuli asked if a pilot project could not be run in Gauteng at the same time so that comparisons could be made.
Mr Cronin said the Committee had been pushing for a separate Transport Safety Section in SAPS. He said the railway service in Cape Town carried the highest volumes and that was why the pilot project was probably happening here. He said he would like to see the project expanded but the Committee had no control over this and could only lobby for more such projects. The project needed to be monitored by the Committee.
Another issue in the area of safety was that the Department had not been able to include new innovations in transport safety. The Committee would need to try to get the Department to respond to these.
Around the issue of Job Creation (2.4) he suggested adding the issue of HIV/Aids especially with long distance freight transporters and the long distance bus service. Transport did have a responsibility to run programs on HIV/AIDS.
Mr Mashile said the Committee should be engaging with the Department of Public Works and the South African Local Government Organisation. Mr Cronin agreed and added liaison with other Portfolio Committees and especially those with an interest in the Expanded Public Works programme.
A sixth area Mr Cronin wanted to introduce was the oversight of the Department in terms of its institutional role. It would include reviewing the appropriateness and effectiveness of the agencies that might have become "little monsters" and it was often difficult to get a handle on them. Related to this would be a legislative review and he suggested having a legislative audit. This would take place over a five-year period.
Mr Farrow asked whether licensing had been included and was informed that this had been put under safety along with the Road Transport Management.
Mr Cronin said it would be useful to establish benchmarks and key performance indicators and that the Strategic Plan should be an in-house document that is used to assess progress.
Mr Mashile suggested that the Department should continue its campaigns to encourage people to use Public Transport.
Mr Cronin said that long distance commuter rail was an area that had been severely neglected and wanted to highlight it under Commuter Rail (2.1.4).
A Member of the opposition raised a question about marches that are to take place mainly in Gauteng by members of the taxi industry. He wondered if they could be contacted to find out what the issues were.
Mr Cronin said the Committee had met with the South African Black Taxi Association (SABTA) on two previous occasions. Although he did not want a broad Strategic Plan to stand in the way of things that were happening on the ground, the Committee needed to assess whether there would be any useful purpose in meeting with SABTA again at this stage.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.
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