Department of Transport: briefing

Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report

15 February 2000

Documents handed out:
Auditor-General’s report on financial statements of vote 2 (Deputy President and National Youth Commission) for year ended 31 March 1999
Youth Manifesto for 21st Century
ILO Convention 182
Department of Transport strategy development plan for special needs and disabled customers

Chairperson: Ms H Bogopane

The Chairperson stated that since the number of committee members present did not form a quorum, it would not be able to finalise the ILO Convention 182, the Youth Manifesto and Auditor-General’s report. Members were asked to go through the report so that they could make contributions when it was considered on Friday, 17 March 2000.

Presentation by Department of Transport
Mr Union Tembo, Deputy-Director and Policy Advisor in the Department of Transport gave the Department’s presentation (see Appendix 1).

The Chairperson indicated that the Committee had requested the Department of Transport in its presentation to talk on:
- its policies regarding the children, youth and disabled;
- programmes the Department has put in place;
- programmes that the Department anticipates to improve the quality of life of children, youth and disabled;
- how much of the total budget allocation to the Department would be used for children , youth and disabled; and
- any hiccups the Department has met in this regard in order to enable the Committee to get a sense of the real issues affecting children, youth and the disabled.

Mr Tembo stated that the Department of Transport has the following definitions of special needs passengers, namely, lifecycle passengers (which include young children), impaired passengers (which include people that have speech impairment and those mentally disabled), signage passengers (including old people and tourists).

(Q) The Chairperson wanted to know how the dial-a-ride project would be accessible to disadvantaged communities in townships, as it seems more geared toward suburb/urban. Would the Department give a background on the initial stages to this pilot project? What was the motivation behind the project?

(A) Mr Tembo said that the dial-a-ride project is too expensive to be accessible to disadvantaged communities in townships. It has not been a community-based project in its initiation. The intention is not to have a bus but a vehicle that would be accessible to all.

(Q) Regarding the tender for the data collection of disabled persons and special needs category, will it be plain data collecting? What is the thinking behind it? Is it to inform policy?

(A) Mr Tembo stated that data collection is done in order to look at problems on the ground. It will give an overview of some of the problems.

(Q) Mr CM Morkel (NNP) asked if the Department has heard of the Buddy Programme in New Zealand. According to this Programme, when a group of people go out to drink, they are accompanied by one individual who is offered free soft drinks and who would drive the other group members around. It encourages sober driving because drunken driving has become a serious problem.

(A) Mr Tembo stated that the Department would take this as input and consider it in revising policy.

(Q) Has the Department approached Telkom and the cellular phone service providers to assist in making services assessible to people with special needs in disadvantaged areas.

(A) The dial-a-ride project is expensive, if there is any other alternative, the Department would be happy to look at it. That is the reason why the pilot audit was taken; to see exactly the area of coverage.

(Q) Regarding the so called "taxi queens", is the Department of Transport aware of the problem. This phenomenon is prevalent in the South Peninsula constituency where taxi drivers pick up schoolgirls and abuse them, sometimes giving them rides in exchange for sexual favours. Would the Department consider looking at accreditation of taxis in this regard and a permit system to take this issue into consideration?

(A) This is not the problem of Government alone. The community should come together and this should be addressed in a consolidated approach, as even taxi drivers are parents.

Mr T Setona (Free State) asked what is the policy position of the Department in respect of rural children.

(A) Mr Tembo indicated that on his visit to Canada he learnt that communities there addressed issues regarding their children by themselves without waiting for government's initiative. He believes the communities should sit down and deal with issues affecting children, such as transport. He is against encouraging parents to look up to Government to solve all their problems.

(Q) Could the Department give an outline of what the targets of the data collection are and when the process of audits would actually be finalised.

(A) The CSIR had completed the audit and submitted a report. Since then Mr Tembo had attended a workshop on the disabled and he felt that the report left out some important issues relating to this area. He had referred the report back to the CSIR with instructions to look at the omitted recommendations. As soon as the report is completed it will be made available to the members.

(Q) Mr M Moss (ANC) pointed out that the Department’s input was very short. Relating to the projects in places like Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town, were the statistics for the year or per month.

(A) The 470 number for Cape Town relates to daily statistics. Mr Tembo stated that he is not satisfied with these numbers as the disabled organisations decided who should go into the buses. These organisations are the ones who come up with the statistics, and he questioned the validity thereof.

(Q) Regarding the new taxis, how suitable would they be for the disabled? Has the Department taken any decisions regarding the accessibility of these to people with disabilities?

(A) The Department is looking at revision of specifications for these taxis.

(Q) A pilot project in the Western Cape was carried out on the Golden Arrow Bus Service, which is viewed to be very accessible to the disabled. Were the disabled approached when the project had been initiated, because the disabled access the bus in front and there are no seatbelts where they sit? Research has shown that the back is safer when accidents occur and not wearing seatbelts cause fatalities.

(A) The Department is of the view that everyone in the bus should be wearing a seat belt.

(Q) Ms O Mndende (UDM) said in some rural areas there are no buses and children have to walk for more than ten kilometres to school. What is the plan of the Department regarding this, and how long does it think it would take them to address the issue. Also in the rural areas, regarding the old and disabled there are people who travel in wheelbarrows and on ox wagons, has the Department any programmes to deal with this.

(A) Mr Tembo stated that he participated in a pilot project done in Venda in 1994 on the mobility of people in rural areas. The Department is now looking at guidelines to develop a plan for transport in rural areas. It is looking at norms and standards of designing what the community wants.

(Q) Mr N Raju (DP, KZN) said there is a need for clarification of terminology. South Africa no longer has a hierarchical order of government as the emphasis is on equality. Reference should be to local spheres of government rather than lower tiers thereof.

(A) Mr Tembo pointed out that the use of the term "lower tier" was merely to indicate that planning and spending is at the lowest sphere of government and not dictated from national level.

(Q) Mr Raju commented that people should not treat the disabled as some "rare quality of curiosity" but with understanding and respect. An example was made of the ill treatment and ridicule the disabled suffer at the hands of some bus and taxi drivers.

(A) The Department is looking at carrying out population education through the Arrive Alive Campaign to change people's attitude in this regard.

(Q) Ms W Newhoudt-Druchen (ANC) asked, regarding the new taxis, whether driver training would be undertaken to sensitise them regarding disabled.

(A) When awarding tenders for bus routing and manufacture, the requirement would include training to prospective drivers on these issues.

(Q) Mr L Nzimande (ANC) wanted to hear what the Department thinks about the provision of public transport. Whether the Department could make a pronouncement on subsidy around public transport.

(A) The Department has found that bus subsidies are very exorbitant. All departments are looking at spending their budgets in a reasonable and accountable manner. Bus companies should seek ways to fund their operations.

(Q) Mr V Gore (DP) also emphasised that the Department of Transport’s presentation was very short. He pointed out that he has been trying to assist in one area where children cannot get to school because they cannot afford transport. The Departments of Public Works and Education are involved in efforts to make buildings and schools accessible to disabled people; the view is that Department of Transport should undertake similar initiatives regarding transport accessibility and availability. A point was made of trains being inaccessible because of the distance of Metrorail stations.

(A) The Department is looking at the issue of accessibility of trains. Mr Tembo said he had returned documents tabled by Metrorail planners back to them to include plans on building of accessible stations.

(Q) Mr Gore indicated an interest in getting copies of the audit the Department intends finalising by the end of March 2000. He said the next step would be inputting such data to development of policy. The Department would have to look at accessibility of new public transport before tenders are actually put out.

(A) The Department would look at requiring the bidder in the final specifications to offer training to drivers of the new taxis.

(Q) Ms Mndende emphasised that she would like to emphasise the seriousness of the problem of transport in rural areas, especially regarding children. In most instances people in those areas use vans, which are too expensive and are unavailable when it is raining. Sometimes it becomes impossible for parents to arrange transport. The thinking is that the Department should take the initiative to help those people.

(A) Mr Tembo said he has experienced that areas such as the Eastern Cape, Umtata and Venda have problems of accessibility where the infrastructure is very bad. The plan is to look and learn from our neighbours in Africa how to provide a better service to the community.

(Q) Ms Mbuyase asked whether the Department of Transport has had any consultations with the Department of Environment and Tourism. The Department stated that it is difficult for disabled people to tour the country.

(A) The Department would look at taking up the issue of tourism.

(Q) Mr Setona asked if the Department views any particular role in bringing about an overhaul in equality of rural/urban disparities in respect of government guidelines.

(A) The Department has developed a strategy on this and it is to be audited, piloted and monitored and then implemented.

(Q) The State cannot abdicate its role of assisting poor communities. The problem of "taxi queens" is more complex that alluded to by Mr Morkel. In rural communities around nine and eleven o’clock in the morning, young boys who should be at school, are working in taxis for about R10 a day. This surely affects issues of child labour and the right to education. This is a problem the Departments of Safety and Security, Justice and Constitutional Development, Education and the South African Police Services should collectively look at. In addition the Department of Transport has a crucial role to play as formulators of policy in the provision of public transport.

(A) Mr Tembo said that at times this points to the negligence on the side of parents. The community would need to work with Government in a consolidated approach to deal with the problem.

The Chairperson indicated that she would like to sum up by requesting Mr Tembo to pass on to the Director-General of Transport that the Department needs to do more work in terms of co-ordinating its programmes. What the Committee has heard is on one unit and not a broader contribution. The "Moving South Africa" document does not come out clearly how it will be implemented and what programmes come out of that. The Department should provide the Committee the following:
- A definition of concepts and programmes to be implemented.
- What happened to the Land Transport Regulation? What are the processes?
- An Indication of the budget of the Department.
- Output of youth programmes, youth participation and anticipated programmes. The Department has to look at strategies aimed at the elderly and pregnant women.
- Regarding legislative practices, there is a lack of consolidated approach. - How the Department links with other departments.
- How the National Department interacts with provincial departments, since the Committee functions as a joint team, they would be interested in provincial relationships as well.
- What the role of the Department would be in the coming local elections.
- What the Department is doing in relation to implementation of legislation.
The Department is requested to forward to the Committee written submissions on the issues raised.

Auditor-General’s Report on financial statements of Vote 2 (Deputy President and National Youth Commission) for year ended 31/3/99
A Committee member pointed out that under the heading, Unauthorised Expenditure Previously Reported on; the lack of adherence to tender board regulations came up before the Portfolio Committee on Public Accounts and the issue is still not dealt with satisfactorily. The Committee should note this with some concern and highlight it as a concern when the Youth Commission does make its presentation before the Committee.

The meeting was adjourned.

Appendix 1:

This presentation is an overview of current policy direction and initiative with respect to special needs issues by the Department of Transport. It is in certain respect specifically targeted towards special category of customers who were transport disadvantaged. The task is currently conducted by a study team or teams appointed by the Department of Transport.

One of the more profound policy positions of the new political dispensation is that issues relating to persons with disabled persons and children, such as the provision of transport for them is now a human rights issue as provided for in Chapter 2, section 9(3) of the South African Constitution, 1996. The state may not unfairly discriminate on the grounds of disability and age. This means that the provision of transport for special needs customers is an obligation that the various levels of government have to fulfil. Resources should therefore be allocated equitably, albeit in a way as they are limited. Therefore there is need for enactment and guidelines development.

- Auditing of current municipal department of transport funded projects.
- the collection of data with respect to the disabled persons and special needs category of public transport.
- Arrive alive campaign.
- Awareness training in schools" child in traffic practical guide".
- DoT initiative on mainstreaming (special needs passenger strategy)
Nation Programme of Action encourages government to think about WHO they deliver to, and not just WHAT they deliver. Children require, and receive, services from every department.
The department is responsible for roads in the country. What the department is delivering seems unconnected to children. But in order for a child to get to school or to hospital, she/he requires the use of the roads.
Therefore, issues to consider, along are:
- Transport availability for that child to use;
- whether the public transport is affordable and safe.

Main streaming incorporates children's issues into their respective portfolio. With this approach children1s issues are part of the Department's budget. Services delivery as above clearly illustrates that children are served by the Department of Transport.
Our department seats in the steering committee structures of NPA which was approved by government . The next phase for NPA is the establishment of Office of Status for the Child (OSC)

Notwithstanding that the Department of Transport is in constant co-ordination and consultation with other government departments and OSDP in particular on the development of their policy/strategies; in the 1996 White paper on National Transport Policy [DoT, 1996] states official NDoT policy with regard to special needs passengers as follows:
The needs of the community and customers will be determined and provided for by a transparent, consultative, co-ordinated and accountable process based on comprehensive information. Special customer groups will include the poor and the disabled The white paper further states that the needs of special categories ofpassen9ers should be identified by the transport authorities, especially at metropolitan and local level, and these should be addressed by their passenger transport plans.

Accessible Transport Pilot Projects (ATTPs) budgets
1) Cape Town, dial-a-ride:- Contract Amount R2.3million, +/-470 users
2)Durban, Fixed route and fixed schedule:- Contract Amount R1million, +/- 200 to 400 users
3)Johannesburg, dial-a-ride:- R2.4miIlion, 66 users

- the prioritisation of provision strategies for special needs passenger
- the setting and possible regulation of certain norms and standards for the provision of infrastructure and the facilities available on certain vehicles
- the promotion of funding approach which prioritise the needs of special needs customers, including the disabled persons. The final judgement about which areas to fund will however remain the responsibility of the lower tiers of government.
- the development of institutions and planning and delivery processes which are more in touch with the needs of all transport customers and which actively seek to create an integrated public transport for the broader needs of users than is presently the case

Act of parliament to confirm on the establishment of structures in the lower tier of government passed.
Mincom confirmation of the set guidelines and norms as the case may be.
the funding of selected demonstration projects to test elements of our strategy or illustrate to others that certain elements of nationally derived strategies are workable.


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