National Land Transport Transition Amendment Draft Bill: briefing; Road Accident Fund Amendment Bill & Airports Company Amendmen

NCOP Public Services

18 June 2001
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Meeting report

PUBLIC SERVICES SELECT COMMITTEE

PUBLIC SERVICES SELECT COMMITTEE
19 June 2001
NATIONAL LAND TRANSPORT TRANSITION AMENDMENT DRAFT BILL: BRIEFING; ROAD ACCIDENT FUND AMENDMENT BILL & AIRPORTS COMPANY AMENDMENT BILL: ADOPTION

Chairperson: Ms Majodina

Documents handed out:
Presentation on the National Land Transport Transition Amendment Bill
National Land Transport Transition Amendment Bill, 2001 (Draft)
Road Accident Fund Amendment Bill [B21- 2001]

Airports Company Amendment Bill [B20 -2001]
Committee Report on Provincial Visit to the Eastern Cape

SUMMARY
The Committee passed the Road Accident Fund Amendment Bill and the Airports Company Amendment Bill.

The Department will give the Committee a second briefing on the National Land Transport Transition Amendment Bill.

The Committee is to embark on a trip to Umtata to attend a meeting with various stakeholders on the issue of taxi violence in that area.

MINUTES
National Land Transport Transition Amendment Bill
The representatives from the Department of Transport were Mr Pillay, Mr van Tonder, Ms Britz, and Ms Nothnagal. Mr Pillay presented the Bill to the Committee.

Background to Amendments
- The Principal Act was brought into operation on 1 December 2000. However not everything in the Act is operational.
- The planning provisions of the Act are not yet operational. Plans are needed for operating licenses, contracts and the conversion of permits.
- There is an urgency to proceed, especially in respect of the minibus-taxi processes.
- The remuneration of the Operating License Board members has not been addressed in the original Act.
- Taxi’s need permits or operating licenses for registration. This must be addressed.
- Transitional provisions include provisions to proceed with processes before plans are finalised. The provisions allow the Minister and the MEC’s determine dates for preparing plans.
- There are also transitional arrangements for provinces without Operating License Boards.

Proposed amendments
These include the following:
- the definition of ''long distance service'' to include rail.
- s 47(1) deals with bus contracts. It is being amended to ensure that there is no disruption of subsidised services. The Department wants to allow for the extension of interim and current tendered contracts.
- s 49(3) provides for the payment of parastatal and municipal operators on negotiated contracts. It will allow the Minister to make payment to such operators and tendered contracts.
- s 112 - Licenses are taking longer than expected. Therefore the registration of new members of taxi associations will include permit holders. It will also include those who have applied for operating licenses but have not yet been issued with these licenses.
- s 113 - non members holding permits can be registered.
- s 134 - this is also a transitional provision. This is to minimise disruption to activities of the due transport plans which are not in operation. It is to provide for continuity.

Discussion
Operating Licenses
Ms Mamagodi pointed out that some provinces still do not have operating licenses. She asked how the Department will ensure that this matter is taken seriously. Further, she asked if temporary permits would flood the already congested market.

Ms Nothnag replied that the Department wants to change the existing Board. All the provinces will have the old system in place until the transformation is complete. The MEC will either re-advertise the current Board or appoint new members.

Ms Nothnag, referring to the comment that the market could be flooded further, replied that permits can only be issued for specific special events. They have to amend this Act to give Operating License Boards (OLBs) the opportunity to issue their permits. They are working on a mechanism to deal with this.

Transport Plans
A Committee member commented that there is an absence of transport plans in the country. Many municipalities are far behind with the IDP (Integrated Development Plan) plans. He asked how the Department envisaged taking the process forward in light of this.

Ms Nothnag replied that there is a problem in terms of provincial planning. The Integrated Development Plan is a new way of dealing with plans. It is not only a Transport problem. All Departments are experiencing it. Currently there are demand driven plans. In the past the plans were supply driven. Most urban areas do have some plans in place. They are addressing the plan problem. They are in the process of finalising the regulations for planning to be published for comment. There will not be a formal transport plan passed by the local council in place.

S 113 - Non-Members Holding Permits can be Registered
Mr Raju (DP) asked for clarity in respect of section 113. He asked if the amendment meant that if people do not become members they will not going to be given the opportunity to register.

In respect of sections 112 and 113 Ms Nothnag explained that when a member of an association is registered he must have an operating license. The amendment has been introduced because the provinces are behind with transferring to operating licenses. Non-members have the ability to be registered but are not up to date with conversions. Because the Department is behind with conversions it must allow those with permits (legal permits which have not been converted) to be registered. This is not new it is already in the Act.

The Chairperson referred to s 113 and asked what will happen to people who are prevented from joining an organization because of high amounts to be paid.

Ms Nothnag replied that there are two kinds of taxi operators. Those who belong to an association and those who do not belong to an association. Members with exorbitant fees can apply to the Registrar. They must still register but do not need to belong to an association.

Ms Mamagodi said that despite the progress made in some areas, the registration of individuals is a problem, especially in taxi areas. There is a need for a mechanism to deal with registration in taxi areas to ensure safety. She said that giants in the bus industry will exclude emerging companies from accessing the market unless the law offers assistance. For example, legislation may indicate that a particular percentage must go to a previously disadvantaged community. Finally she said that the old boards are still in place and this is very problematic. She insisted that the Department establish a national mechanism to control this problem.

Ms Nothnag replied that all tender contracts must go through the provincial tender boards. The Provincial tender boards have their own criteria. The Department of Transport cannot prescribe these criteria, it is the provinces decision. Ms Nothnag added that the Department notes the Committee's concerns with respects to boards.

The Chairperson asked about the extension of contracts. She asked if the Department was saying that those who already received subsidies should continue to receive subsidies until the Department finishes its plans.

Ms Nothnag replied that if a contract lapses before the amendment is in place then they will not be able to provide services to the community. The Department must amend the Act to give them time to complete the tenders. They need the amendments to extend the current contracts while putting out the services to tender.

In conclusion Ms Mamagodi said that they should stop at this point. She explained that the Committee must still go to the provinces and hold public hearings. She added that the Committee needs national guidelines and that the presentation was not intended to be a formal briefing.

The Chairperson said that the Bill must be passed on 12 September.

Mr Sulliman (ANC, Northern Cape) said that if the provinces decide on public hearings then the date will change.

The Chairperson told the Department that the Committee wants a second briefing on the Amendment Bill.

Road Accident Fund Amendment Bill
Mr van Tonder presented the Bill to the Committee.

In essence, the Road Accident Fund (RAF) tries to reduce the number of accidents on the road. There is a partnership between the RAF and the Department of Transport that has been in place since 1997. The partnership is beneficial to both the Department and the RAF.

The 1998 Arrive Alive campaign reduced fatalities by 6,4%. The figures for 1999 and 2000 will be available soon.

The problem is that the existing Act does not provide for the RAF to contribute to these types of campaigns. Therefore they are introducing an amendment. The amendment will enable the Fund to make financial contributions to safety projects and programmes approved by the Minister.

They consulted the Board and the CEO of the RAF. No problems have been raised. There is no negative implication for the provinces.

Discussion

Mr Sulliman (ANC, Northern Cape) said that he saw no problem with supporting the Bill.

Ms Mamagodi suggested that they insert the words ''after consultation with the provinces''.

Mr van Tonder replied that in terms of the normal process officials develop the business plan. The Minister chairs a meeting with provinces and the Department presents the plan. The business plan is submitted to the Ministerial Committee. They amend the business plans. In practice the provinces are therefore involved.

Dr Nel (NNP, Free State) asked whether the RAF is in a financial position to contribute towards the campaign.

Mr van Tonder replied that the Transport Department does not have access to information on the RAF’s financial position.

Dr Nel said that it is a fact that the RAF is operating at a deficit. If there is a forced contribution then that will increase the deficit. That means that the legal contribution of legal owners will have to be increased.

In response to a question from Mr Maloyi (ANC, North-West) Mr van Tonder replied that if the Minister approves a road safety project then money may be made available to projects. The Board is not compelled to give money for the business plan approved by the Minister. The Board decides if the project has merit. The State Law Advisor agreed that the Board has the final decision and not the Minister.

Mr Raju asked if contributions to the RAF depends on the fluctuation of petrol prices or if the amount remains constant.

Mr van Tonder replied that the levy which the RAF receives does not increase if the fuel price increases. The amount of the levy is tied to the quantity of fuel sold. If more fuel is sold the RAF receives more money. In this respect the amount of the levy fluctuates.

Mr Mokoena (ANC, Northern Province) made the following summary:
The Minister goes to the Department with a program. The RAF is not obliged to contribute to the Departments programs. However in terms of the Act (without this amendment) they cannot contribute because this will be a violation of the Act. The amendment allows the RAF to provide financial assistance to the Arrive Alive campaign if they want to.

The Committee agreed to the Bill.

Airports Company Amendment Bill
Ms Britz presented the Bill to the Committee. The National Assembly has passed the Bill already. The amendment is small but necessary. The company is a monopoly and has to be regulated to ensure that it does not abuse its monopoly position.

An airport company can only levy charges with valid permission. The regulatory Committee issues permission every five years. One must apply every three years. Thus there is a review over the last two years to determine if a new permission should be issued or not. Currently (in terms of s 12 of the Airport Companies Act) the regulating Committee can amend any condition mentioned in terms of ss 7 of the Permission to Levy Airport Charges issued to the Airports Company of SA. There can be an amendment during the last two years of the permission.

The problem is that the approval of the company is required in addition to the approval of the Minister. Thus there is an anomaly in that the airport company can veto the Regulatory Authority's decision.

The proposed amendment will remove this anomaly. The regulatory authority must still consult the airports company but it need not obtain the company's approval. It will only have to obtain the approval of the Minister.

Discussion
Ms Mamagodi commented that it is imperative to have such provisions. She suggested that the Committee approve the Bill. Mr Maloyi agreed.

The Committee passed the Bill.

Umtata Visit
The Chairperson said that the Committee wants to visit Umtata. She said that she spoke with the MEC of the Eastern Cape. He said that he would have a meeting with the taxi-owners.
Contralesa and local government have also called a meeting of all stakeholders. The Committee must be part of that meeting. They have made an application for 9 people to attend. There is a possibility that only 5 people will be allowed to attend. This meeting will take place on Thursday (21 June 2001) at 10:00 am.

The Committee can also meet separately with the taxi owners. The MEC is unaware of the Thursday meeting. He has a meeting planned for the Wednesday (20 June 2001).

The Chairperson said that the Committee would also like to visit the hospital where the injured are being treated.

Ms Mamagodi commented that this is the right step. The Committee must discuss the role that it will play. They must come up with mechanisms to stop the violence or it will continue indefinitely.

The Chairperson said that they will meet with the fighting factions and try to determine what the problem is. (The Committee picked the names of those who would go).

Committee’s Mid-Year Report
The Committee has compiled a mid-year report from January to June 2001. It has not been adopted yet.

Thailand Visit
A delegation of 4 people will represent the Committee on a visit to Thailand. This is the only international tour for the year. The Committee's budget for the year is only R 150 000.

Eastern Cape Report
The Committee discussed how to deal with the report on their visit to the Eastern Cape.

Briefing from SAA on Safety of Flights
Ms Mamagodi said that she would like the CEO of SAA to brief the Committee on the safety of flights. She wanted to know how old the aircraft were and if people using them were at risk.

The Committee noted that there is uncertainty as to whether this falls within the mandate of Public Services or Public Enterprises. They said they would check with the Committee on Public Enterprises on who deals with what.

The meeting was adjourned.

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