National Transport Transition Amendment Bill: briefing by Department of Transport

NCOP Public Services

08 November 2005
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Meeting report

ARTS AND CULTURE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

PUBLIC SERVICES SELECT COMMITTEE
9 November 2005
NATIONAL TRANSPORT TRANSITION AMENDMENT BILL: BRIEFING BY DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT

Chairperson:
Mr R Tau (ANC)

Documents handed out:
National Land Transport Transition Amendment Bill [B38-2005]
National Land Transport Transition Act [No 22 of 2000]
National Department of Transport Presentation

SUMMARY
Delegates from the National Department of Transport briefed the Committee on the National Transport Transition Amendment Bill (NLTTA). The main purpose of Amendments was to provide for additional definitions, to simplify the transport planning regime, to make provision for new taxi vehicle sizes, to extend certain time limits and to extend the responsibilities of holders of operating licences. The Committee expressed concern over the use of light delivery vehicles for public transport, transformation of the tourist industry and licensing of unroadworthy vehicles. The Committee would need to discuss the Bill with the provinces.

MINUTES
National Transport Transition Amendment Bill briefing
Mr M Mokonyama, Chief Director: Integrated Planning and Inter-sphere Implementation, from the Department of Transport briefed the Committee on the National Transport Transition Amendment Bill (NLTTA). The NLTTA came into operation on 1 December 2000. Part Seven of the Act, which included planning requirements, came into effect on 1 June 2002. Challenges to the implementation of the Act were the capacity of Municipalities especially regarding planning, and the time frames of operating licences.

An independent study had been commissioned to assess the progress made in implementation. The study showed serious capacity problems. The planning requirements in the Act were too complicated for some municipalities. Hearings were held with stakeholders, the key issue was the time taken to for licensing. The review of the Act led to the Amendment Bill.

The main purpose of amendments was to provide for additional definitions, to simplify the transport planning regime, to make provision for new taxi vehicle sizes, to extend certain time limits and to extend the responsibilities of holders of operating licences. The Amendment Bill would clarify definitions in the principle Act, simplify planning requirements and extend the duties of the MECs, the Minister of Transport and the Operating Licensing Board. It would regulate the meter taxi and tourist services and the conveyance of passengers by Light Delivery Vehicles (LDVs) and trucks.

The proposed amendments would have the following purposes. In Section One the definition of an Association would be expanded to include other modes. It would provide for the definition of an adapted LDV. It would provide contextual meaning and clarity on municipal public transport.

In Section Five the functions of the Minister would be expanded. The Minister would set targets for transformation of the land based public transport sector for Black Economic Empowerment. The Minister would set standards and specifications for sealed meters for metered taxis to ensure metered taxi fare was determined fairly.

Sections 19 to 22 revised the principles of transport planning. It would provide clarity on the frequency and procedures to be followed in preparing the National Land Transport Strategic Framework. It would ensure that a Travel Demand Management strategy was prepared by all provinces and require that lift clubs be dealt with as part of the Travel Demand Management Strategy. Section 23 to 25 would be removed.

Section 29 would be amended to extend the time from 30 to 90 days requirement for the notification of the relevant planning authority prior to taking any action that may affect the quantity or availability of land transport. It would extend the time from 28 to 90 days in which the relevant planning authority must respond regarding the application for change or intensification in land use or development.

Section 31 dealt with types of vehicles that may be used for public transport. Vehicle categories would be redefined. Special cases would be provided for the use of LDVs in areas where no appropriate land based public transport was available.

Section 38 would prohibit examiners of testing centres from holding operating licences to prevent corruption. Section 43 would require holders of operating licences to inform the board when the licensed vehicle changed ownership. It would prevent operators from operating illegally if they were refused a licence.

Section 47 would extend the maximum contract period from five to seven years to support new businesses. Section 47(3)(f) would be removed.

Section 63 would extend the functions of the MECs to include increasing accessibility to public transport and assisting in the reduction of adverse environmental effects.

Section 78 extended the function of the Operating Licence Board to include the registration of LDVs.

Section 91 would make provisions for metered taxis. It would prescribe the maximum number of passengers to be conveyed in them, ensure fair fares and expand the functions of the Minister to include setting specifications and standards for sealed meters. It would allow the Operating Licence Board to prescribe pick up points for passengers, routes and times of operation.

Section 92 would provide for tourist service operations. Tourist service operators would have to register with the accredited Tourism Authority to prevent illegal tourist service operators. It would restrict the use of tourist services to leisure purposes only. A registered Tour Guide would have to accompany tourists. The Operating Licensing Board could prescribe the maximum number of passengers to be conveyed by tourist services. It would provide a means to prevent the over-saturation of the tourist services industry.

Section 123 would extend the powers of the MEC to designate municipal officials as transport inspectors. Section 127 would provide conditions under which a penalty may be imposed for offences relating to illegal operation of LDVs.

Discussion
Mr M Mzizi (IFP, Gauteng) asked what the specification for LDVs would include so that these vehicles could not be used by just anyone for public transport. Ms M Oliphant (ANC, Kwazulu-Natal) expressed concern about LDVs used to take children to school. She said many transported too many children and thus were dangerous.

Mr Mokonyama agreed that LDVs were controversial. The purpose of the amendments was to deal with the mushrooming of LDVs. The definition "adapted LDVs" means that the LDV must be adapted to make them safe. The Road Traffic Act provides for standards for LDVs to be used for public transport. It was not ordinary LDVs. LDVs did not need an operating licence but the Department was investigating operating licences for adapted LDVs.

Rev P Moatshe (ANC, North-West) asked the Department to elaborate on how LDVs had to be adapted to make them safer. Mr Mokonyama said the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) require seats, a canopy, seatbelts and specific tyres. Mr Moishe, Director of the Department of Transport, added that the SABS would test a vehicle to ensure that it is designed for the purpose it is used for. The SABS needed to certify adapted LDVs to ensure they meet the required standards for the use of the vehicle. Vehicles have to be adapted by a registered vehicle technician.

Mr Mzizi asked how bus lines would be regulated. Mr Mokonyama said buses would require operating licences. In most cases the licences were issued for five years. Many of them would have long distance permits but if not, they would not be allowed to be used for long distance travel.

Mr Mzizi asked how marginalised groups could compete with those who have the means or access to provide tourist services. Mr Mokonyama said he could not answer about access to finance. The government did not subsidise tourists, operators charged market related prices.

Mr F Adams (NNP, Western Cape) asked if the amendment to Section 123 to extend the powers of MECs would create room for corruption. Mr Mokonyama replied that officials would not be included but municipal workers, who were not required to enforce traffic law.

Mr Adams asked if tour guide vehicles would have special specification standards. Mr Mokonyama replied that tour guide operators do get operating licences. Previously they had been lifelong but now an expiry date was set.

Mr Adams asked what the Department of Transport, the police and the Traffic Department doing to stop dangerous pirate taxis. Mr Mokonyama said law enforcement was increasing.

Ms H Matlanyane (ANC, Limpopo) asked how lift clubs would be regulated; stressing that pubic transport was not always near one’s house. Mr Mokonyama replied that the NLTTA was not designed to regulate private transport. Lift clubs had been discussed but not much ground was gained.

In reply to Ms Matlanyane asked if shuttle services fell under tourism, Mr Mokonyama said that where shuttle services had meters, they would be standardised.

Ms Matlanyane expressed concern over taxi licensing and how to prevent taxis that were not roadworthy. Mr Mokonyama explained that licences would not be issued if the vehicle was not roadworthy. Mr Moishe said that in terms of the taxi recapitalisation process, the Department had issued a moratorium on new licences and was regularising the permit application process for operating licences.

Mr Moishe said the National Transport Register had only legally working taxi operators on its database. Safety requirements were published in the Government Gazette No 871 in September 2005. By 1 January 2006 no new permits would be issued until safety regulations had been fulfilled. From June 2006 the safety requirements would be enforced. The Department was in the process of publishing terms of reference for scrapping vehicles that should not be on the road.

Mr K Pillay (Chief Director: Public Transport Subsidy Management) said the issue of lift clubs was mentioned in the Road Accident Fund Act. Lift clubs should not be a service provided for a reward. Rotation must occur. The problem was that payment does not always mean a reward but to cover expenses. This should be amended. Travel Demand Strategy did not aim to regulate lift clubs but to encourage them.

The Chairperson said stability was greatly needed for transport but bureaucratising the system would become complicated. Provinces needed to be briefed and the processing of this Bill would be affected by Parliament rising on 16 November 2005. Ms Olifant said consultation with the provinces was needed.

Mr Mzizi noted that engine and chassis numbers had often been filed away. He asked what the Department would do about this in relation to taxi recapitalisation. He asked about the tyres of recapitalised vehicles and also about the removal of inspectors.

Mr Mokonyama replied that there were provincial, local traffic and board inspectors. Other agencies could also enforce the Act, which would increase capacity. Mr Moishe added there was no way to get more money out of the taxi recapitalisation project than an owner was meant to. If vehicles had new engines, it should be authorised. The verification process was strict in terms of authentication of the person and the vehicle. Only those in the system would be able to benefit.

Mr Mokonyama said Integrated Transport Planning included everything under transport, both infrastructure and operations. Since the promulgation of the Act most municipalities had provided Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) but there were some areas of concern. Implementation of plans and resources were problematic. The Department would like to consult with the Portfolio Committee on how to implement the legislation. Legal experts would guide the Committee on the passage the legislation should follow.

Mr Moatshe asked about families owning combis and how this would be affected by the law. Mr Pillay replied that combis for private use would not be affected. Taxis from 1 January 2006 had to comply with the new rules, while private vehicles could still use their current licence.

The Chairperson said the Committee would be guided on how to proceed with deliberations on the Bill by the timetable of the provinces. This would determine whether the Bill would go forward this year or in 2006.

The meeting was adjourned.


 

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