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TRANSPORT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
14 March 2006
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT, ROAD TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT CORPORATION AND SOUTH AFRICAN MARITIME SAFETY AUTHORITY: BUDGETS AND STRATEGIC PLANS
Chairperson: Mr J Cronin (ANC)
Documents handed out:
TRANSPORT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
Department of Transport presentation
Department of Transport Annual Report 2004/05 [available at www.transport.gov.za]
Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) RTMC presentation
South African Maritime Safety Authority SAMSA presentation
The Department of Transport, the Road Traffic Management Corporation and the South African Maritime Safety Authority presented their budgets and strategic plans to the Committee. Detail on transport policy, research and analysis was provided. Key challenges for public transport were outlined. Fraud in vehicle testing and licencing departments was being investigated. Detail was provided on expenditure trends. Road safety would be approached by means of partnerships with the private sector. Draft investment plans were also outlined.
Members asked numerous questions including appropriate strategies to address departmental challenges, poor levels of traffic enforcement, the effectiveness of the Arrive Alive campaign, the need for proper monitoring of expenditure at the provincial and local levels, resistance within the taxi industry to recapitalisation, how soon transfers for road infrastructure would be concluded, problems related to the standardisation of fines, rise in employee costs in relation to stagnant income levels and whether Annual Reports were compliant with accounting procedures.
The Chairperson noted the planned study tour to South America by certain Members in April and that dates would be confirmed shortly. He explained that the approval of R2, 7 billion to the Road Accident Fund [provided for in the Additional Adjustment Appropriation Bill] by the Finance Portfolio Committee had been done in consultation with the Chairperson. A report on budget votes would be completed by the end of March but might be delayed due to the Department’s need to complete the strategic report. The Minister of Transport and the Director-General would present the report in the middle of May.
Department of Transport presentation
Mr D Pretorius (Chief Financial Officer) presented detail on transport policy, research and analysis. Planning would be conducted in an integrated way with an emphasis on freight logistics and corridor development. Information was provided on the Department’s strategic overview and key policy developments. A Transport Action Agenda had been devised for 2010. Key challenges for public transport were outlined. A transport economic regulator would be established. The Gautrain had been endorsed by Cabinet. The Special Investigating Unit was involved in an investigation of driving licence and vehicle testing centers. An overloading control unit would also be established. Rollovers totaled R36 million and the recent allocation history was recounted. The budget had received an annual average increase of 18%. Expenditure trends were explained.
DiscussionThe Chairperson declared that the presentation provided a meaningful introduction to the budget vote debate. The expenditure framework for 2006 was of particular interest. The budget reflected the need for public entity oversight. Despite the commitment to increased expenditure, he asked whether the Department focused enough on appropriate strategies to address challenges. The rationale of certain programmes was not clearly understood. Transport challenges existed on all fronts with public transport and road safety of primary concern. National planning had to take local government plans into account. The budget did not place enough emphasis on the high number of road fatalities that endured an increase during the past festive season. Approximately 11 000 deaths were recorded in the last year. The establishment of the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) was welcomed but enforcement remained a main concern. Traffic police was a local government function although the Department had to follow up on performance levels. Poor communication characterized the taxi recapitalisation programme. Operators had to be incentivised to adhere to regulations. The Committee would carefully follow developments regarding the Gautrain. He questioned the extent of progress to the Khayalitsha rail extension.
Mr S Farrow (DA) asked whether the Arrive Alive campaign remained effective and questioned the increase in funds to the RTMC. He asserted that the Department should make a concerted effort to root out corruption at licencing and testing venues rather than involve the Special Investigating Unit (SIU). He asked whether operating permits to run bus services had been issued. Gautrain integration into the regional network was a point of contention.
Mr A Ainslie (ANC) raised a concern about the Department’s capacity to monitor spending that arose from transfers. A suitable mechanism was needed to monitor expenditure. Tangible examples of policy implementation was required to assist in oversight.
Mr Pretorius responded that the Arrive Alive campaign would be reevaluated completely in the near future. Patrol vehicles had been provided to local authorities to assist in law enforcement. Road safety was a major priority to be included in strategic plans. The taxi recapitalisation project had been integrated into provincial plans. The RTMC would monitor the implementation of legislation. The Public Transport Infrastructure Grant was a new sub-programme designed to oversee all infrastructure projects. All projects were evaluated by a committee applying specific criteria. Certain rail lines had been identified to be integrated into the freight logistics system. The Department was determined to put an end to the fraudulent issuing of licences. New contracts would be issued to transform the present bus subsidy system. Public transport subsidies would be utilized to replace specific subsidies such as the taxi recapitalisation programme.
Mr S Macozoma (Chief Director: Integrated Infrastructure Network Development) stated that the overload control enforcement responsibility would go to the RTMC. Decisions taken at the national level had to be driven by issues at the local government level. The challenge for the Department was to maintain a sound oversight function. The strategy was for local government to deliver while the Department monitored implementation. More detailed strategy plans would be presented to the Committee in future.
Mr T Vezi (IFP) referred to the high levels of resistance within the taxi industry to proposed legislative changes. New investments in bus fleets could not occur without addressing the hostile elements within the taxi industry.
Ms N Khunou (ANC) asked how much of the envisaged capital expenditure for infrastructure projects had been spent. She asked whether Arrive Alive was active throughout the year. Perceptions circulated of resistance within the trucking industry to affirmative action policy directives. She asked whether the upgrade of rural roads was included in the rural development budget. Pertinent information regarding the taxi recapitalisation project would be relayed in future.
Mr O Mogale (ANC) asked when road transfers would be concluded and when the scrapping agency would be established.
Mr L Mashile (ANC) asked why rollovers had occurred with regard to the Arrive Alive campaign as unpaid invoices existed. He questioned the level of capacity at the local level to implement projects devised at the national level.
Mr Pretorius declared that most of the R241.7million budgeted for infrastructure projects had been allocated and transfer agreements would be finalised. The Arrive Alive campaign functioned as a year-long campaign. The RTMC was in the process of reviewing the campaign. Detail on the affirmative action position within the trucking industry would be provided. Rural development plans included road upgrades and road extension. The Public Transport Infrastructure Grant (PTIG) would be placed with the Department. Envisaged projects would enhance public transport. Contracts would be drawn up with local government to expand rural roads. Improved communication would be issued on the taxi recap project. Roads would be assessed during the year and necessary maintenance carried out. Unpaid invoices connected to the Arrive Alive campaign was for media campaign contracts that had been subsequently settled in the next financial year. Planning support would be provided to rural municipalities for road maintenance and upgrades.
Mr Farrow asked whether the Department was involved in the process to develop branch lines.
Mr Mogale asked for clarity on the scrapping process and the proposed agency for taxi recapitalisation.
Mr Macozoma provided feedback on certain rail extension projects in the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and Kwazulu-Natal. The Department had contributed finances to the various projects. The plan was to have branch lines operate independently. Plans for the World Cup would be arranged in a co-ordinated manner. The R50 000 designated for taxi recapitalisation was to encourage operators to exit the industry.
Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) presentation
Mr T Tsholetsane (CEO) provided background on the purpose of the entity and explained five key functional areas. Detail was presented on proposed steps to operationalise the agency and the desired objectives. The agency would be directly involved in planning for the 2010 World Cup. Estimated expenditure for 2006/7 was outlined. Various key projects were explained and road safety initiatives would be approached by means of partnerships.
Mr Mashile noted that the proposal to standardize fines was a concern as certain poorer areas would struggle to meet the new demand. Clarity was sought on proposed changes to the law enforcement aspect.
Mr Farrow noted a discrepancy between the rationale behind the creation of the agency and proposed activities now. The present five functional areas tended to move the agency away from the initial intention. A key function of the entity would be the promotion of road safety. He asked whether an audit of all traffic police had taken place as law enforcement remained a fundamental concern. He asked whether the agency would fulfill the role of an enforcement agency.
Mr Ainslie sought clarity on the role of the consultative committee and noted the lack of visible policing on the roads during recent trips.
Ms Khunou noted that the RTMC could serve to co-ordinate the three spheres of government and assist in planning. Drinking and driving should be focused on to reduce accident levels.
Mr Mashile noted that two traffic authorities were operating on the road to Limpopo and competing for fines.
The Chairperson stated that the agency had to display a strong sense of commitment to reducing the unacceptable death rate. The Metros appeared to deliver better road enforcement than the respective provincial authorities. He asked whether the one-year training course offered by the agency was different to existing training courses in terms of curriculum.
Mr Farrow added that the budget implied that the agency was operating its own fleet of patrol cars. He asked whether the plan was only to provide cars to the relevant authorities.
Ms Khunou referred to anecdotes regarding truck drivers and alleged drug taking to avoid drowsiness.
Mr Tsholetsane declared that the agency was a new organization and certain responsibilities still had to be finalized. The agency intended to standardize offences throughout the country and therefore had to include standardized fine systems. The agency would monitor law enforcement at various levels. Hazardous areas had been identified and provincial authorities had been instructed to use additional vehicles at these designated places. Provincial departments would report back to the agency on rates of success. He concurred that Metros tended to deliver a more effective enforcement service than provincial authorities. The consultative committee would co-ordinate provincial and Metro activities and ensure compliance with the national road safety strategy. Provincial and local authorities had to pursue legal cases involving drinking and driving to drastically reduce the number of incidents. The proposed one-year course was an entirely new course separate from existing examples. A central accident bureau could be established next year to co-ordinate accident investigation and recording. With respect to two enforcement authorities working the same route, local authorities could only work within their respective areas of jurisdiction whereas provincial authorities could operate throughout the province. Joint operations would be encouraged between provincial and local authorities to improve apprehension of deviant drivers. The agency would set the traffic officers’ exam paper but would not play a role in training. Legislation stipulated that the agency interact with the private sector and facilitate Black Economic Empowerment advances with respect to procurement. The agency was not aware of drug taking by truck drivers but alcohol consumption would be carefully monitored. The Chairperson noted the under-performance by provincial authorities and stated that the Committee would follow developments.
South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) presentation
Mr L Kolagadi (Acting Chief Executive Officer) and Mr I Blackie (Chief Financial Officer) provided detail on the purpose and objectives of the organization. An increase in levies and charges of five percent had been recorded. Detail on the draft investment plan was outlined.
Mr Mashile asked whether the position of CEO would be finalized in the near future.
Mr Farrow stated that the rise in employee costs was a concern given that income was not expected to rise. He asked why an increase in staff was required. The position of a Pretoria office was questioned.
Mr Ainslie asked whether a campaign was in place to register ships under the South African flag and whether steps were in place to improve safety at sea.
The Chairperson asked for detail on the nature of the difficult times recently experienced and whether some of the issues were systemic. He asked for clarity on key performance indicators and what major concerns had been identified.
Mr Mogale asked whether the Annual Report was compliant with accounting procedures and whether prospective employees would be employed on a temporary basis.
Mr Kolagadi stated that the board had experienced problems in the past and a new Board had been appointed. The new Board was adopting a hands-on management role that was causing some friction within the organization. Certain governance problems remained. The rise in employment cost had been due to the appointment of surveyors. The Authority had decided to seek additional trainees for class three courses. Class one employees was decreasing. Individuals tended to take eight years to reach class one status. Candidates would be absorbed from the Merchant Navy to undergo class three training. The Pretoria office was perceived as neutral by the main port authorities. Attempts were underway to attract ships back to the South African flag and National Treasury was supporting this exercise. SAMSA operated with other international agencies to promote safety at sea. A special unit had been created to facilitate improved safety within the fishing industry. SAMSA actively participated in the combating of pollution. Training was an important component of SAMSA’s activities and five percent of employee costs went towards internships. Seven students from previously disadvantaged backgrounds would be trained within the organization.
The meeting was adjourned.
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