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PUBLIC SERVICES SELECT COMMITTEE
31 May 2006
NATIONAL LAND TRANSPORT TRANSITION BILL: NEGOTIATING MANDATES
Documents handed out
Limpopo negotiating mandate
KwaZulu-Natal negotiating mandate
Free State negotiating mandate
Mpumalanga negotiating mandate
Western Cape negotiating mandate
Eastern Cape negotiating mandate
North West negotiating mandate
Seven of the nine provinces (excluding Northern Cape and Gauteng) presented their negotiating mandates on the National Land Transport Transition Bill. KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and the Eastern Cape had not held public meetings as officials had been under the impression that discussion had been postponed until the following Parliamentary session. Gauteng and the Northern Cape had held hearings but had not prepared their negotiating mandates.
Despite appeals for more time, the Chairperson was adamant that the provinces only be given a week’s extension before preparing well-informed final mandates. He said the Programme Committee had already given one extension and the present meeting was already two days late. He suggested that the public hearings be held over the coming weekend as the final mandates had to be presented on 7 June 2006. The Committee needed to engage with the Department to obtain clarity around particular issues. He reminded Members to think of the Constitutional implications if the Bill were not processed in the present cycle.
Most provinces’ concerns surrounded the issue of operating licenses for smaller vehicles. Provinces felt that these operators would be excluded if they had to comply with the proposed legislation. Provinces also wanted clarity around the transport planning authorities.
Ms Moerane-Manase began by stating that no public hearings had been held. It was hoped that the hearings would take place the following week. She apologised that this was due to the budget process that had taken longer than anticipated.
The Bill had been come under consideration on two occasions. Two amendments were being proposed. The province felt that there needed to be harmonisation between the present Bill and the National Road Traffic Act and the SA Bureau of Standards (SABS) Act regarding light delivery vehicles. If this were not done, the present legislation would be difficult to enforce. There was also no clarity around the issue of the municipal planning authorities.
The province wanted Section 13 to include vehicles with less than 11 passengers. It was felt that as it stood, it would adversely affect small taxi owners.
The province that the Section dealing with brakes and safety features should not be included in the legislation, but rather in the regulations.
The tariffs of the metered taxis should be controlled and this should be done perhaps in line with the Automobile Association (AA) tariffs.
Rev Moatshe (ANC – North West) proposed that the Department respond before the next province presented.
The Chairperson agreed but said that he felt that there might be similar proposals by provinces, in which case the Department could give one response. He suggested that if another province brought up the same issue, it would be regarded as being dealt with already. All Members agreed.
Transport Department response
Mr M Mokonyama, Department Chief Director: Integrated Transport Planning, addressed the Eastern Cape’s concerns. Reference to the National Road Traffic Act was not meant to be ‘exclusive’ but mentioned for purposes of cross-reference.
With regard to the definition of the ‘municipal public transport system’, the Principal Act referred to the municipal public transport system without defining it. Transport services could operate within a municipal area or a transport area. A transport area, in terms of the Act, could be a municipal area or a group of municipal areas. The boundaries of a transport area would therefore not necessarily follow that of a municipal area. The aim was not to restrict it to a municipal area since the vehicle could originate in one municipal area but end up in another.
He explained that the amendments to Section 13 were due to the taxi recapitalisation process. According to the SABS, vehicles carrying less than eleven passengers need not have the same safety features as those stated in the recapitalisation process. For example, these vehicles need not have roll-over bars fitted as the bigger vehicles were obliged to have. These vehicles should therefore not be used as public transport vehicles.
He explained that ‘brakes’ referred to special engine brakes that were compulsory for public transport vehicles. These were over and above the foot brakes. He did not have a problem moving this to the regulations.
There was at present no maximum tariff for metered taxis. The Department wanted to set standards. They did not mention the AA in the legislation since it was a voluntary association as opposed to a statutory body. Their tariffs might therefore not be ideal. They would however consult in order get a fair tariff.
Ms Moerane-Manase (Eastern Cape – ANC) explained that according to the Road Safety Act, vehicles with less than eleven passengers, which operated as lift clubs, had to apply for a permit. The amendment would deny these drivers operating licenses since they did not have the safety features required. This would exclude many people from the market. The Eastern Cape also felt that since government was regulating the industry, it should control the tariffs the metered taxis were charging.
The Chairperson asked if the province was insisting that standards be set by the AA. Ms Moerane- Manase said a certain authority needed to be used, not necessarily the AA.
Mr Mokoyama agreed, as long the authority was a government institution. The intention was not to exclude anybody from the transport system. Vehicles that carried eleven to sixteen passengers would still be able to get licenses. These vehicles however would not be classified as mini- or midi buses and would also not be fitted with the roll-over bars. These safety features were only required for the bigger vehicles as prescribed by the SABS.
Mr van Rooyen (Free State – ANC) said that they were proposing two amendments. Their concern was that the prohibition of the use of light delivery vehicles was discriminatory and would exclude a large section of the population. The other concern was around the replacement of vehicles by bigger ones.
Mr Mokoyama said that the change had been motivated by a number of provinces and referred in particular to the usage of ‘bakkies’. The Section stated that not every Light Delivery Vehicle (LDV) could be used for public transport. If it was adapted - for example, with proper seats - it could be used. The precise safety features would be spelt out in the regulations. The Section therefore did not seek to exclude drivers, but sought to prevent the proliferation of unsafe vehicles. The intention of the clause was not to increase the capacity of a temporary permit. The capacity of the vehicle would remain the same.
Mr M Radebe (Chairperson of the Transport Portfolio Committee, Gauteng Legislature) explained that the province did not have a mandate as they had been under the impression that the consideration of the Bill had been moved to the following term. It had therefore been removed from their agenda. They had however held public hearings.
Ms Dlulane (ANC – Eastern Cape) said that all provinces had been told that the meeting would take place that day. She urged all provinces to arrive with final mandates. The Chairperson agreed.
Mr O Singh (Chairperson Transport Portfolio Committee: KZN Legislature) presented his province’s mandate and said that the amendments proposed were very similar to the above. His Portfolio Committee needed more time to hold public hearings. It had planned to hold four hearings, but this had not been possible due to the time constraints.
Mr Mokoyama said that he did not have a problem moving Subsection 6 (b) to the Definitions section. The section referring to vehicles with less than eleven passengers referred to the safety features. He stressed once again that this did not exclude these smaller vehicles. It was not compulsory for them to have the safety features and therefore they could not be used as public transport vehicles. The section referring to the brakes also referred to the ‘Type 2A brakes’ referred to earlier. He was not opposed to this being put into the regulations. The replacement process was not meant to enable operators to increase their capacity. Should this be required, a new application would have to be done.
Ms H Matlanyane (Limpopo – ANC) explained that she had briefed the province and they had had a meeting about the Bill. They had however been under the impression that there had been an extension and therefore had not held public hearings. They had not come up with amendments because of the timeframe. They would however like to hold public hearings as they considered the Bill to be very important. She would communicate with the province and ensure that they treated this as an urgent matter before they produced a final mandate.
Ms M Oliphant (KZN – ANC) said that she was concerned about the extensions. The Chairperson said that an extra week had been given already. If the provinces did not produce within the week, the process would continue. It was not possible to delay it any longer.
The Chairperson explained that the delegate from the province was not present, but they had sent a mandate. He asked Ms Matlanyane to read the mandate.
Mr Mokonyama said that the comments made in the above mandate were very general. He pointed out that the Department had consulted with a range of stakeholders when drafting the Bill. Referring to the samples of vehicles as raised by the province, he said that once the Bill and regulations were approved, samples of prototype vehicles would be made available. The issue of transportation bakkies had been referred to earlier. On the issue of the subsidy, this was not in the Bill. This was another process that had been dealt with in the tender process.
The Chairperson explained that the province had not submitted anything. They had received their briefing and had held public hearings, in which he had participated. They had however not submitted any mandate. They would thus like an extension like the other provinces.
Reverend Moatshe (North West – ANC) presented his province's mandate. He had briefed officials and had held one public hearing. They would be having another one in the following week. He felt however that they should have sent someone from the Legislature a he did not feel that he could comment adequately on the mandate.
Mr Mokoyama said that the table in the mandate seemed like the same one they had circulated to the provinces. He added however that the Principal Act defined the term "association". This could not be expanded any further without affecting the body of the Act. The definitions of "bus", etc., had been done. Sections 5 and 13 did address the issues raised. Sections 18 to 27 in the mandate had been referred to by the Department in Explanatory Notes.
Mr F Adams (Western Cape – ANC) presented the province's mandate. The province had been briefed and two sets of public hearings had been held. The whole process had been very transparent.
Mr Mokoyama was in agreement with most of the provinces’ suggestions. He added that the issue of ‘association’ had been expanded in order to move away from the restrictive nature of the current definition. He did not feel that he had the mandate to discuss suggestions about removing issues concerning buses and minibuses from the Road Traffic Act and inserting it into the National Transport Transition Amendment Bill (NLTTA). He was not sure whether the word modified or adapted would be more suitable as suggested. It would however be considered. The recommendations referring to metered taxis were agreed to. Referring to the regulations, he said that the Department planned to publish the regulations as soon as the Bill was promulgated. In terms of planning, he explained that the municipalities were different sizes and their planning would therefore be different. For this reason, they had suggested that the MEC be involved in determining the type of integrated transport plan that was needed. The regulations would specify the categories of municipalities and the regulations that would apply to them.
The vehicles with less than eleven passengers had been referred to already. This would however be subjected to a legal and policy test since it was being raised by quite a few provinces. The concern was that the current minibuses would be reintroduced. He said that the amendments on the vehicle sizes and safety features were all part of the recapitalisation process. The other specifications such as seatbelts and speed governance would be issued in the regulations. This would not be in the Bill as the recapitalisation programme would come to an end, and therefore reference would not be needed in the Act.
He added that the Department wanted the Bill to be processed soon because of the recapitalisation process. If the Bill was not processed within the current year, the new vehicles could be illegal until the Bill was passed.
The Chairperson said that some of the issues that were mentioned would be flagged.
Ms Moerane-Manase (Eastern Cape – ANC) felt that since the Department kept referring to a prototype, the same safety features could be installed in the smaller vehicles as in the bigger vehicles. She stressed that the needs in the smaller vehicles had to be considered.
The Chairperson said that the issues would be consolidated and then be sent to provinces. He stressed the importance that committees interact with these issues as this Bill affected much of the public directly.
Mr Singh (KZN) asked whether the time for final mandates could be extended as quite a few provinces still had to hold public hearings.
The Chairperson said that he understood but that there could not be any extension as the Programme Committee had already given one. The present meeting was already two days late. He suggested that the public hearings be held over the coming weekend as the final mandates had to be presented the following week on 7 June 2006.
Ms Oliphant (KZN) was concerned about this and that mandates submitted the following week would not be genuine. There had been instances in the past where the NCOP had been taken to court because the proper procedures had not been followed. Most provinces had been busy with their budget debates.
The Chairperson reiterated said that all provinces would have to try to finish discussions by 7 June 2006. The Committee needed to engage with the Department to obtain clarity around issues so that there would not be too many questions at the next meeting. He reminded Members to think of the Constitutional implications if the Bill were not processed in the present cycle.
Ms Moerane-Manase (Eastern Cape) added that they had held a Transport Summit in April, at which all stakeholders had been present. Their recommendation therefore had some public support. They would however still try to hold one public hearing
Mr Mokoyama said that the Department was available over weekends if they needed them at any of the public hearings.
Mr F Adams (ANC - Western Cape) said that he had struggled to contact anyone senior in the Department. A representative from the Department could not be expected to come if they were informed on the day of the meeting. He said that the Department was committed, but that time could be a problem. The Chairperson said it might also be a human resources issue.
The meeting was adjourned.
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