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PUBLIC SERVICES SELECT COMMITTEE
13 April 2005
TRANSPORT STRATEGIC PLAN AND BUDGET: DEPARTMENT BRIEFING
Documents handed out:
Transport Department PowerPoint budget presentation
The Department of Transport presented their Strategic Plan, Medium-term Budget and expenditure trends. Their key functions were policy and strategy formulation, and providing transport infrastructure. Key challenges were providing an efficient public transport system and ‘unblocking’ freight flow.
The Department’s key deliverables were taxi recapitalisation; public transport infrastructure; public transport subsidies and land transport safety. The latter included R50 million for the Arrive Alive campaign and R88 million for the operation of the Road Traffic Management Corporation. Another key priority was the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), for which R438 million had been set aside.
Members raised questions about the Department’s contribution to poverty alleviation; improvements in road safety; road infrastructure maintenance; corruption, and an improved public transport system.
Mr J Makopane, Chief Operating Officer, said the Strategic Plan had been guided by the President’s State of the Nation Address and the Finance Minister’s Budget Speech. They had thus focussed on issues such as poverty eradication; improving social and economic inclusion; preparation for the 2010 Soccer World Cup, and safety and security in all modes of transport. The Department’s core objectives were providing an efficient and affordable transport system and unblocking freight flows. The attainment of these objectives could be measured by competitive transport rates, safety improvements, reduction of infrastructure backlogs, improved accessibility, and reduction in times of transit.
Mr D Pretorius, Chief Financial Officer, took Members through the key deliverables and budget of the Department. Freight Logistics included an allocation of R1.753 billion for a Strategic Road Network, which had been taken over by the SA National Roads Agency. The Roads Infrastructure Development Plan would curb the deterioration of roads. A new mobile overload control unit would enhance this function.
Public Transport service provision had budgeted for a National Transport Survey. Rail capital would be used for refurbishing coaches to the amount of R688 million and R4.3 billion would be spent on bus and rail subsidies. Taxi recapitalisation accounted for R260 million.
Land transport safety would include a special investigating unit to curb corruption and abuse of the system. Other key priorities were the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) for which R438 million was allocated and the development of a National Transport Plan.
The Medium-term Budget and expenditure trends saw a steady increase in allocations to roads infrastructure. Additional allocations in the 2005 MTEF were for taxi recapitalisation, which would increase from R250 million to R320 million. Significant increases would continue in roads infrastructure up to R500 million in 2007/08 and Passenger Rail Infrastructure. Mr Pretorius showed graphic representation of expenditure trends in taxi, roads, bus and rail transport, showing their growth patterns from 2000 to 2008. The budget included R111 million for compensation of employees and R93.6 million for the Road Traffic Management Corporation. The latter included an amount of R56.2 million for the National Traffic Information System (NaTIS). The Arrive Alive campaign accounted for R50 million. Other components were for oil pollution, watch keeping and agencies.
Discrepancies in the budget related to plans that had not been implemented for various reasons. These related to the Ports Regulator and the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC). Land Transport Regulation included the establishment of a National Accident Bureau. Other outputs were transport policy and regional integration, integrated planning and inter-sphere co-ordination, freight logistics and corridor development and public transport.
Rev P Moatshe (ANC) said the presentation document was substantial and Members were expected to absorb a lot in little time. He asked how the Department had contributed towards eradicating poverty and how it had improved safety. He asked if there had been a reduction in fatalities and what the situation was regarding taxi recapitalisation. He asked for further elaboration on the review of subsidies.
Ms B Dlulane (ANC) asked whether the Department had any plans for school transport in rural areas. She asked how the amount of R69.53 million was split between buses and taxis.
Mr G Krumbock (DA) said that he could not get a real sense of what the Department was doing and how they were going to achieve their aims and if they were succeeding on any front. He said the media had made much of the poor condition of South Africa’s roads and that the cost of repairing a road increased exponentially the longer repair was neglected. Was there any truth in this and did the Department intend tackling this matter?
Mr Makwopane acknowledged Members’ concerns. The two key issues of poverty alleviation and socio-economic inclusion would be addressed by the rural transport strategy, which was in the process of consolidation. A draft document had been presented at the January Cabinet legotla. This was a tangible programme that rolled out infrastructure platforms, making use of manual labour as much as possible. It sought to look at alternative modes of transport, including animal drawn transport.
Road accident statistics varied between provinces and had to be linked to traffic volumes, which were by far the highest in Gauteng. Therefore statistics had to be viewed in relation to volumes in order to accurately assess whether fatalities were decreasing. He said R50 million had been distributed to the provinces by the Road Accident Fund for the purposes of ensuring greater road safety. Every life lost was one too many, but numbers had to be looked at in context. The press always focussed on bus accidents. Road accidents had come down by two percent over the Easter period in 2004, but in December 2004 the figures had not really improved in relation to the previous year. The asset forfeiture unit had been called in to start seizing vehicles from repeat offenders. Fraudulent licensing was also being tackled and corrupt traffic officers were being prosecuted. Initiatives like this all contributed towards making the roads safer.
The specifications for taxi recapitalisation had been gazetted. A tender had gone out to provide vehicles according to government requirements. The tender had been terminated when it had been concluded that this was not affordable. They had invited manufacturers to submit quotes for different size vehicles in order to cater for different traffic needs. Permits would only be issued for the appropriate vehicle for a particular route. He said that thus far the taxi industry had been supply driven. It needed to change in order to fulfil demand. Manufacturers would only be selling these new vehicles and permits for them would only be issued until 1 January 2006. New vehicles would have to comply with the new specifications. He said R7.7 billion would be spent over the next seven years. Their first allocation was R250 million and the Department was attempting to have the years reduced.
Transport subsidies for buses and taxis were under review. The SA Rail Commuter Corporation (SARCC) was responsible for buying rail coaches, lights and fixed signals. The SARCC was a Transnet subsidiary. Security was the responsibility of the SAPS. They would be increasing their presence on rail, especially in the Western Cape, where rail use was at its highest.
Metrorail was in the process of being "collapsed" into the SARCC. There were several challenges around this, especially the transfer of workers and their pensions. Negotiations were still ongoing. The executive management would have to be reduced, as they could not have two management teams. Implementation of the merger would start by the end of June and be finalized by December.
Ms H Matlanyane (ANC) asked whether the Department had rollovers in its budget and what had happened to the plans for non-motorized transport such as bicycles, donkey carts, etc. This was supposed to have been launched in the provinces. She suggested that bus transport be increased and improved, as traffic was becoming increasingly congested, especially when it rained in Cape Town. She asked what would happen in 2010, when the number of commuters would greatly increase. She commented that everyone wanted a car, but that this was causing the problems of congestion, whereas if there were a decent and reliable public transport system, this would not be a problem. She asked what emphasis was being placed on skills training and development and whether the Department was recruiting students and providing learnerships. She commented that corruption seemed to be rife in driving schools and traffic departments, as one never received a driver’s licence the first time around and certainly not if you had not attended a driving school.
Mr Tau said that although time did not allow further discussion, this was not the end of their interaction, as the Department would be answering these questions in writing and they would be meeting again closer to the budget vote. The meeting was adjourned.
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