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PUBLIC SERVICES SELECT COMMITTEE
22 February 2000
NATIONAL ROAD TRANSPORTATION BILL; REPORT BACK ON SABOA CONFERENCE & PROVINCIAL SITE VISITS; HOUSING CONFERENCE
The Department promised to supply the Committee and the provinces with a summary of the Bill highlighting the important points.
The Committee condemned the actions by NATDO (registered association representing taxi drivers) who in protesting against the Bill, were disrespectful towards the President.
Members who attended the SABOA conference reported it to be a success.
The members from Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, Free State and Eastern Cape provinces reported back on the provincial site visits.
A multi party delegation from the Committee will attend the housing conference on the 27 March 2000 in Midrand, Johannesburg
National Road Transportation Bill
A delegation from the Department pointed out that they do not think there should be public hearings on the National Road Transportation Bill. They believe there had been sufficient consultation in the past. Should the Committee decide in favour of public hearings, the Department asked they be structured in a way that would not cause conflict. Mr M Sulliman (ANC, Northern Cape) said the decision whether or not to have public hearings must be left to the provinces. The Departments' delegation welcomed the idea and called for the Committee to give dates when they are going to the provinces so that the Department could accompany the members.
Overview of the consultation process
The Department said it had issued the working document in December 1996. Further, since 1996 they had consulted with the various provinces and debated the proposed law. In addition, the draft Bill was published in January 1999. The final Bill had been published this month and copies of the Bill are being distributed to all people concerned. Road shows had been done. SALGA will be briefed again on 25 February 2000.
As a result of the above scenario the Department felt sufficient consultation had been conducted.
Briefings to the provinces
Ms P Majodina (Chairperson, ANC, Eastern Cape) proposed that the briefings to the provinces should be in provincial week from the 13 to the 17 March 2000. She called for immediate arrangements with the provinces. Members indicated which days were not suitable for their various provinces. The Committee concluded that provinces will decide whether or not briefings are needed.
The Department promised to supply the Committee and the provinces with a summary of the Bill highlighting the main and important points.
March by National Taxi Drivers Organisation (NATDO)
Ms P Majodina (Chairperson, ANC, Eastern Cape) expressed concern that some parliamentarians who have vested interests in the taxi industry are trying to derail the work of the Government as far as the recapitalisation project is concerned. Comments by some parliamentarians to the media after the taxi drivers represented by NATDO threatened to render the country ungovernable, left much to be desired.
Mr A Marais (ANC, Free State) described the march by the taxi association in Pretoria as rude and insulting. He said it was very disrespectful of them to give the President an ultimatum. He called for the Committee to issue a press statement denouncing the action.
Mr N Raju (DP, KwaZulu - Natal) concurred with Ms Majodina and Mr Marais. He went on to say that once one is a legislator, he is obliged to prioritise his interests. The work of a legislator comes first and any personal vested interests must be put on a lower shelf. He said he would be surprised if some members are antagonistic towards the spirit of the Bill. He did not believe that the Government would legislate to the detriment of its citizens.
Mr M Mokoena (ANC, Northern Province) questioned whether the timing is correct for the issuing of a press statement. He suggested that the statement not be issued as yet because the Committee is not in possession of all the facts. He pointed out that there are negotiations going on with the taxi organisations and so the stage of the negotiations must first be established.
Mr Marais objected and said the statement would have nothing to do with the on-going negotiations about the recapitalisation of the taxi industry but will denounce specifically the unbecoming behaviour in Pretoria towards the President.
Mr P Maloyi (ANC, North West) disagreed and pointed out that the Committee is still not well versed with the provisions of the Bill to an extent that it could go to the media and release statements. He suggested that the taxi association concerned must be called to Parliament and be made to answer.
Dr P Nel (NNP, Free State) objected to NATDO coming to Parliament. He said the provinces must decide if they want to have hearings and if so, the taxi organisations must go to them.
Mr N Raju (DP, KwaZulu Natal) reminded the members about the right to freedom of speech which everybody has including the taxi organisations. He said that what NATDO had said in referring to the President may not be palatable to the members but the association was within its rights to say it nonetheless.
Mr M Sulliman (ANC, Northern Cape) said the matter must be left in the hands of the President and the Minister, as they are capable of dealing with it.
Mr N Raju (DP KwaZulu Natal) agreed and added that the President and the Minister must know how deeply the Committee feels about the whole issue.
SABOA Conference briefing
Dr P Nel (NNP, Free State) described the conference as 'fruitful'. He commended the input made by the President. He also referred to the input by Dr Swanepoel on insufficient medical examinations resulting in unfit people being allowed to drive.
Mr B Mkhaliphi (ANC, Mpumalanga) said the requirement to ensure that taxi drivers and their vehicles are both fit was stressed. Mr N Raju agreed with these sentiments. He added that the Department of Transport is serious about implementation of the Bill so as to ensure maximum safety. He said what was most encouraging at the conference was the focus on drivers and health. Mr M Sulliman asked members that in future, written reports should be supplied to the Committee.
Report back on provincial sites visits
Mr M Mkhaliphi (ANC, Mpumalanga) announced that in his province they were mostly involved in field work. There is a comprehensive report accompanied by a video that is presently with the National Assembly.
Mr M Mokoena (ANC, Northern Cape) said a report about his province is ready. Copies will be supplied at the next meeting.
Dr P Nel (NNP, Free State) said that in his province one life had been lost. The extent of the damage was not much. Here and there damage occurred on roads because of sub-standard maintenance or no maintenance at all.
Ms P Majodina (Chairperson, ANC, Eastern Cape) said areas where damage had been caused have been identified especially in the former Transkei. Joint visits will be planned.
A multi-party delegation from the Committee will attend the housing conference on the 27 March 2000 in Midrand, Johannesburg.
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