Marine Pollution (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) A/B: WWF Submission & Department response to public submissions; Luxembourg Protocol on Railway Rolling Stock

NCOP Transport, Public Service and Administration, Public Works and Infrastructure

27 March 2024
Chairperson: Mr M Mmoiemang (ANC, Northern Cape)
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Meeting Summary


The Select Committee convened virtually to consider written submissions from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) on the Marine Pollution (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Amendment Bill and the responses from the Department of Transport to the submissions received.

The WWF's main focus was on issues of anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, noise pollution and light pollution from ships. Noting these, the Committee questioned whether the issues raised had not been dealt with under the Climate Change Bill.

The Department welcomed the comments by the WWF, acknowledging their importance, but urged the Committee to prioritise the proposed amendments in the present Bill in its current form, considering the fact that the aim was to incorporate treaties that South Africa had already ratified.

The Committee also considered the Luxembourg Protocol to the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment on Matters Specific to Railway Rolling Stock, and adopted the report on the protocol unanimously. 

Meeting report

The Chairperson welcomed everyone to the meeting and invited the Committee Content Advisor to present the Marine Pollution (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Amendment Bill [B5—2022].

WWF submission on Marine Pollution (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Amendment Bill

Dr Anneke Clarke, Committee Content Advisor, said that on 2 February, an advertisement had been placed in the national media calling for written submissions on the Marine Pollution (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Amendment Bill [B5—2022]. Only one written submission had been submitted, which was from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

The submission by the WWF essentially had four areas of input. The first was the inclusion of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the definition of pollutants (emissions) associated with shipping. Anthropogenic GHGs from activities such as shipping was known to cause global warming and climate change, leading to “substantial damage, and increasingly irreversible losses, in terrestrial, freshwater, cryosphere, and coastal and open ocean ecosystems." (GHGs) from shipping were mainly in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the combustion engine.

The second was the need for the Bill to address noise pollution emanating from ships, particularly when traversing through sensitive habitats -- for example, the core foraging grounds for African penguins. The third was that other forms of pollution from ships also needed to be better regulated, such as hyper-saline water and warm water discharged from ships emanating through alternative gas-generated energy. The fourth was that light pollution from ships needed attention so as to mitigate the negative impacts on the environment.

See attached for full submission


Mr M Rayi (ANC, Eastern Cape) said that the focus of the presentation by the WWF was on GHG emissions. He therefore wondered whether the issues being raised were not already covered by the provisions of the Climate Change Bill, which had a whole chapter focusing on GHGs.

Marine Pollution (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) A/B: Department response to public submissions

Mr Dumisani Ntuli, Chief Director: Legislation and Policy Development, Department of Transport, said that they had prepared a set of responses in advance to the matters raised. This had been shared with the Department, as well as the Secretariat of the Committee.

He welcomed the comments from the WWF, and expressed thanks for the matters raised. He noted that the WWF was represented as an observer non-governmental organisation (NGO) at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). Due to that, they would be aware of the status of negotiations that were currently under the care of the IMO.

He said anthropogenic greenhouse gases formed the issues being considered by the IMO's marine environment protection committee as it reviewed the present GHG strategy. Until the negotiations are concluded, it would be premature for South Arica to unilaterally impose measures that may be preemptive. He confirmed that the negotiations were at a delicate stage, but the IMO had made great progress with the strategy adopted. The Department therefore recommended that South Africa continue working with the IMO in the development of future regulations aimed at giving full effect to the IMO GHG strategy.

Mr Ntuli emphasised that the priority at the moment should be to focus on incorporating Annex IV and Annex VI. He added that they had created a mechanism within the amendments that ensured that if there were any changes to the global regulations, the Minister would be able to update the legislation in the form of regulations giving effect to the changes that the IMO would have made.

In response to Mr Rayi, he replied that all sectors had to contribute to the reduction of GHG emissions, and the Bill currently being considered would help the shipping industry to ensure South Africa was able to enforce what the IMO had agreed to.

Responding to the second issue raised by the WWF, he said that there were currently no international agreements regulating noise pollution from international shipping. However, from a safety of shipping point of view, there was an IMO code on noise levels emanating on board ships calling at South Africa ports, which the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) checked for compliance. There was no internationally accepted treaty that South Africa was a party to, on the basis of which they could draft domestic legislation. The Department therefore recommended that issues regarding outside noise from ships not be considered, because the aim of the amendments in the Bill for consideration was to incorporate treaties that South Africa had ratified.

On the third issue, of better regulation of other pollution forms from ships, he responded that although the proposal made a lot of sense, it required a global instrument for measures to be globally applied to ensure effectiveness and impact. Furthermore, South Africa working on its own in a globally regulated industry might have unintended consequences in the form of a lack of enforcement capacity, as well as a nonexistent technical capacity. It was for those reasons that the Department recommended that such activity not be regulated at the moment, but that the Department continue working with international organisations to study and build the necessary technical capacity needed to understand and regulate the matter in the distant future.

On the last proposal regarding light pollution, he responded that pollution that emanated from light had to be considered by the approving or licensing authority, of that activity attracting light pollution so that it was incorporated in the approved methods used in squid fishery licensing/agreements. The Department agreed that to regulate matters raised on light pollution, more scientific research and investigations needed to be carried out. The Department therefore recommended that the proposed amendments in the present Bill in its current form be given priority, considering the fact that the aim was to incorporate treaties that South Africa had already ratified.

Further discussion

Mr Rayi said he welcomed the response, but he had not received the response just presented by the Department.

The Chairperson said that none of the members seemed to have received the Department’s response to the submissions by the WWF. He asked the Committee secretariat to check whether they had received it.

The Secretariat replied that they had not received the response from the Department, and asked the presenter to forward the Department’s response again.

The Chairperson asked the Secretariat to confirm the programme -- that the negotiating mandate was on 24 April, the consideration was on 3 May, and the adoption of the report would be on 8 May.

The Secretariat replied that due to the limited time left, the Committee needed to finish its work by 3 May, but the programme as captured by the Chairperson was correct.

The Chairperson asked the Secretariat to share the responses from the Department as soon as they received it, as there might be issues that Members may want to canvass.

Presentation on the Luxembourg Report

Mr Ngwako Makaepea, Deputy Director-General (DDG): Rail, DoT, said the Luxembourg Protocol was a Protocol to the Convention on International Interest in Mobile Equipment (Cape Town Convention) of 2001. South Africa was already a party to the Cape Town Convention and the Aircraft Protocol, and both the Convention and the Aircraft Protocol had been incorporated into South African law through the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment Act, 2007 (Act No. 4 of 2007). A Presidential minute had been obtained from the Office of the President authorising the Minister of Transport to sign the protocol on 22 March 2022. Cabinet approved the protocol on 21 June 2023, but it still had to be ratified since the protocol fell within the scope of section 231(2) of the South African Constitution, so it required Parliamentary approval before it was ratified.

He said the protocol would benefit South Africa by improving availability and reducing the cost of private financing for rolling stock. This was aligned with the recommendations of the National Development Plan (NDP) and the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP), which directs greater private sector participation. The Luxembourg Protocol also advances the private sector’s financing appetite for rolling stock, and would play a vital role in implementing the private sector participation envisaged in the March 2022 national rail policy. The protocol provides for a new system of rights for creditors whose interests would be registered and searchable 24/7, at an international registry to be based in Luxembourg. It would also facilitate more affordable finance from the private sector to support new rolling stock procurement and finance existing fleets. The protocol would also apply to the financing of rolling stock operating domestically  and internationally, and introduce a unique and permanent new global numbering system for rolling stock -- the Unique Rail Vehicle Identification System (URVIS).

(See presentation)

The Department therefore recommends that the Select Committee grant permission for approval of the Luxembourg Protocol to the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment on Matters Specific to Railway Rolling Stock by the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), for ratification in terms of section 231(2) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996.


Mr M Dangor (ANC, Gauteng) asked whether the Committee was required to ratify the protocol. If that was the case, he asked it to consider the recommendation made by the Department.

The Chairperson asked what the implication of the protocol was on some of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa's (PRASA's) existing agreements, such as with Gibela. He asked what factors could be taken into consideration in determining whether freight rolling stock was of public importance. Were entities like the South African Railways Safety Regulator and the cross border transport authority required to have access to the unique rail vehicle identification system? If so, how would that access be facilitated? He asked whether the implementation of the protocol allowed the Department of Transport to increase its targeted transfer of freight from road to rail over the medium term expenditure framework (MTEF) period, and what the revised figures were anticipated to look like, compared to the current estimate of 10%.

Department's response

Mr Makaepea replied that the protocol, as it was, did not apply to the Department, as the Gibela agreement involved a special purpose vehicle established by PRASA to be able to deliver the trains. The state was going to honour the contract because the contract had been gazetted by the Minister of Transport. The protocol would apply only to the new initiatives that would happen beyond the country ratifying the protocol. He explained that once they obtained approval and ratification by both Houses of Parliament on the protocol, what would follow would be the deposit of the instrument of intention as a country. South Africa, through the Department of Transport, would be part of the supervisory authority already in force, which would then determine the rules of engagement to guide the industry on compliance measures.

Upon ratification, the Department would work with the industry to provide feedback, because the Railway Safety Regulator gives permits in terms of the rolling stock applicable to their internal standards. He said that the protocol would help in the movement from road to rail, and the inclusion of the kind of tonnages that they wanted to have. One of the challenges they were experiencing currently was the drop from 254 million tonnes in freight due to the unavailability of rolling stock. However, if they had more operators on board, they would be able to bring their rolling stock within the open access framework, and the private sector participation in line with the policy. Through this, the Department could move some of the commodities situated at the mines. This would also be important in helping to protect jobs in the mining sector.

Regarding projections, he reminded the Committee that there was a national logistics crisis committee which dealt with the operational element, working closely with Transnet and the rail industry. They had been able to see some increases and changes. Transnet's projection now for the next financial year was around 170 million tonnes, and with more rolling stock they would be able to achieve more. The Department believed that the protocol could assist them with their policy mandate and the direction that government wanted to take.

In further response to the Chairperson, Mr Makaepea said that the factors that would be taken into consideration would be issues of public interest. When they discussed details of the supervisory authority and the kind of elements and the ratification that they wanted as a country, they would be able to deal with those conditions. He was certain that as government, they would be able to make sure that the interests of the country were really taken into consideration.

The Chairperson thanked the Department for the presentation, and noted that the Members seemed comfortable with the Luxembourg Protocol.

Report of the Select Committee on Transport, Public Service and Administration, Public Works and Infrastructure on the Luxembourg Protocol to the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment on Matters Specific to Railway Rolling Stock

The Chairperson called for the adoption of the report, asking Members to indicate their support.

Mr Dangor, Ms S Boshoff (DA, Mpumalanga), Mr Rayi, Ms M Moshodi (ANC, Free State), Mr T Brauteseth (DA, KZN) and the Chairperson supported the adoption of the report. No Members opposed its adoption or abstained from voting.

The Chairperson declared that the Committee had unanimously adopted the report and it would be tabled in the House for adoption.

See report here

Adoption of minutes

Mr Rayi moved the adoption of the Committee's minutes of 20 March. Mr Dangor seconded, and the minutes were adopted without any amendments.

The Chairperson confirmed that the next meeting would be held on 17 April.

The meeting was adjourned.


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