Road Accident Fund, Airports Company, National Land Transport Transition Amendment Bills: Briefing

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Transport

16 May 2001
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Meeting report

TRANSPORT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
16 May 2001
ROAD ACCIDENT FUND AMENDMENT BILL; AIRPORTS COMPANY AMENDMENT BILL; NATIONAL LAND TRANSPORT TRANSITION AMENDMENT BILL: BRIEFING

Chairperson: Mr J. Cronin (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Road Traffic Amendment Bill [B21-01]
Airports Company Amendment Bill [B22-01]
National Land Transport Transition Amendment Bill
Presentation on National Land Transport Transition Amendment Bill

SUMMARY
The Committee were briefed on three amendment bills. The Road Accident Fund Amendment Bill seeks to amend the Act in order to authorise the Fund to make financial contributions to road safety projects such as the Arrive Alive Campaign.
The Airports Company Amendment Bill involves a minor change that would place no additional burden on the State and rids the legislation of an anomaly.

The National Land Transport Transition Amendment Bill proposes a host of amendments both substantive and procedural. Most important is to change the Act so it could provide for the extension of interim contracts.

The Department conceded that many necessary aspects of implementation of this Act had not yet occurred. The planning provisions of the Act are not yet in place. Further only one provincial Operating Licence Board has been established so far which is due to a "lack of capacity" within the ranks of those meant to establish the boards.

MINUTES
Road Traffic Amendment Bill
Mr Van Tonder of the Department of Transport outlined the reason for the proposed change as well as the consequences of that change.

The Road Accident Amendment Bill seeks to amend the Road Accident Fund Act in order to authorise the Fund to make financial contributions to road safety projects and programmes approved by the Minister. This change would then enable the Fund to make contributions to the Arrive Alive Campaign.

Mr Van Tonder said that the Arrive Alive Campaign and the Road Accident Fund (RAF) are in partnership. The RAF makes contributions to the Arrive Alive Campaign, which in turn uses these funds to encourage motorists and pedestrians to observe all road traffic safety measures. The Arrive Alive Campaign was initially confined to festive seasons but has now moved to be a national year-round campaign.

Mr Van Tonder said that the Campaign had indeed yielded positive results and has reduced the number of claims brought before the RAF considerably. The amendment was necessary to make it possible for the RAF's Board to make much needed funds available to the Arrive Alive Campaign. Both the CEOs of the RAF and the Arrive Alive Campaign had been consulted with all parties agreeing to the proposed amendment. The amendment would have no negative effect on Government, and in fact the amendment would instead create positive consequences for the administration.

Discussion
The Chairperson commented that there had indeed been problems with the RAF, as well as there being a new Board in power for the last year. He went on to remind that South Africa had a serious road accident problem and that in light of this, the work done by the RAF and the Arrive Alive Campaign was indispensable. The positive effects of both these organisations have been proven and thus money spent on these institutions is not money wasted.

Mr Ainslie (ANC) asked if the Campaign was in serious jeopardy in light of the fact that it owed its existence to funding from the RAF.

Mr Van Tonder replied that the Campaign was indeed in jeopardy as it relied heavily on funds provided by the RAF. The Campaign was set to receive an amount R50 000 000 less than what it is accustomed to receiving and would not be able to stay afloat with such greatly reduced funding.

The Committee asked to what degree the individual provinces are involved in the activities that the RAF and the Campaign carry out.

Mr Van Tonder answered that the individual provinces are highly involved throughout the process. The Arrive Alive Campaign consults with each of the provinces and discusses the manner in which each province will try to control traffic related matters. Matters such as law enforcement methods are discussed and the two then try to coordinate their efforts. The end product of these consultations is a business plan, which is presented to the RAF for approval. These business plans are set into action and after each term the Campaign must report to the RAF and detail its achievements as well as account for expenditure.

The response to Mr T Abrahams (UDM) asking if the Arrive Alive Campaign would be in jeopardy if the amendment was not done, was a very definite yes.

Mr J Niemann (NNP) asked if the business plans were tabled in Parliament. Mr Van Tonder noted that although these plans were public documents they were not tabled in Parliament, instead they could be found in the RAF's annual report.

Airports Company Amendment Bill
This Bill also proposed only a minor change that would place no additional burden on the State. The Bill was proposed to rid the legislation of what appeared to be an anomaly.

Ms Suzanne Britts, a representative of the Department of Transport, outlined why the legislation needed to be changed. In terms of the Act the airports company, ACSA, is granted a five-year permission to levy charges related to airport core activities. Core activities include activities essential to airports function such as runway fees and exclude incidental matters such as the commercial businesses located at the airport. ACSA is a monopoly and thus the need for close regulation is obvious. Therefore in the last two years of the permission a process of consultation is initiated whereby ACSA consults with the Minister of Transport and the Airport Committee. Section 12 (11) (a) of the original Act places the validity of the permission enjoyed by ACSA in the hands of the Airport Committee. The problem arises due to the fact that ACSA is responsible for the regulation of that very same Committee. The construction of the Act thus led to an anomaly that reared its head only in the last two years of the permission, with the regulator, ACSA, becoming subject to the whims of a body which it ordinarily regulates over, the Airport Committee. The need to change the legislation to bring it into line with the tenets of law is thus obvious.

Discussion
The Committee asked why the consultations over levy charges were initiated only in the last two years of the permission period.

Ms Britts said that this matter was a complicated one. The Airport Committee was authorised to establish the exact amount of the levies in respect of which the permission is granted. In reality all the industry players are consulted and she named these as ACSA, the actual airlines involved as well as the Airport Committee. These consultations occur to establish the levies that would be charged over the next five-year permission period. An array of market factors are entered into the equation in establishing these new levies and as a result the levies reflect the true operational costs within the industry. These new levies are then phased in over the last two years of the permission to provide some form of continuity.

National Land Transport Transition Amendment Bill
Mr K Pillay presented a Powerpoint presentation on this Bill. The amendments are numerous and include matters ranging from the changing of definitions to the correction of spelling.

This Act was promulgated in June 2000 and brought into operation on 1 December 2000. There are a number of problems with the Act and the need to proceed with the amendments is obvious. Key issues include definitions which need to be realigned, the planning provisions of the Act are not yet operational and the Act needs to be changed to allow subsidised services to be concluded without transport plans.

The reasons for these amendments are numerous. The Golden Arrow Bus Company court case is one such reason. The Act presently does not provide for the extension of interim contracts. The Act also provided that from 1 December 2000 contracts were to be awarded on the basis of planning. However, as the planning provisions of the Act are not yet in place, Golden Arrow argued in court that new contracts could therefore not be granted. Mr Pillay pointed out that many of these contracts will expire shortly and it would thus be necessary to change the Act in two ways. One would be to change the Act so it could provide for the extension of interim contracts and secondly to bring the planning provisions into force. These changes would be necessary to ensure uninterrupted bus services.

Discussion
Mr Cronin (ANC) agreed that amendment bill was necessary but enquired as to what time frame was involved.

Ms A Nothnagel of the Department of Transport, replied that the longer these amendments took, the longer the Department would have to extend the interim contracts (which would cost the Government serious amounts of money).

Mr Ainslie (ANC) interjected that these amendments were quite numerous and that the whole process was getting "messy".

At this point the Committee raised the question as to why the Operating Licence Boards had not been established. These boards were to be located in each province and charged with the duty of considering applications for the new operating licences which taxi drivers would need to acquire. The Committee pointed out that despite their importance in the whole process of transformation to the new system, these boards had not been established.

Mr Pillay pointed out that such a board had indeed been established in Gauteng and that positions on the Western Cape Licencing Board had recently been advertised in the press. He did however admit that these boards were meant to have been established a long time ago and attributed the problem to a "lack of capacity" within the ranks of those meant to establish the boards.

The meeting was adjourned.

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