A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.
PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORT
25 October 2006
ROAD TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT CORPORATION AND SOUTH AFRICAN RAIL COMMUTER CORPORATION: ANNUAL REPORTS
Chairperson: Mr J P Cronin (ANC)
Documents handed out:
South African Rail Commuter Corporation 2005/2006 Annual Report (available at www.sarcc.gov.za )
South African Rail Commuter Corporation Powerpoint Presentation Part1, Part2, Part3, Part4
Department of Transport 2005/2006 Annual Report (available at www.dot.gov.za)
The Department of Transport reported that the Road Traffic Management Corporation could not present its annual report as it had missed the deadline for submission to parliament. This corporation was currently managed by a joint interim steering committee that would guide its transformation. The Department of Transport was providing the technical assistance in the running of its office. The Corporation would only focus on five of its ten legislated functions. These aimed at the provision of a comprehensive information system and the setting of a framework of standard for the management of road traffic. Key to this was the training of traffic officials.
The Chairperson highlighted the ambivalence around the role the Corporation. It had to clarify whether it would focus on setting the trends for the management of road traffic or whether it would become directly involved in the training of traffic officials. He said that its role in relation to the constitutional allocated powers and functions of the three spheres pf government had to be fleshed out. Members noted that the Corporation had failed also to produce Annual Reports for the previous two periods, and expressed their dissatisfaction at the failure to produce the relevant documentation, including the annual report. A meeting would be scheduled to discuss its annual report, when released. It had also failed to produce annual reports for the previous two financial years. Concern was expressed that the shareholder Committee had thus far failed to achieve a turnaround, and on the impact of the staff shortages on its work. The Department of Transport was aware of the problems and was working on them.
The South African Rail Commuter Corporation presented its Annual Report. It focused on the transformation of the public transport system as well as the three phase turnaround strategy needed to accelerate higher levels of investment in the rail commuter system, and plans for the 2010 Soccer World Cup. The corporation had received an unqualified audit report from the Auditor–General. The integrated mass Rapid Transport had to be driven and managed by the municipalities. A strategic decision had been taken by government to separate freight and passenger transport. Highlights from the past financial year included improved security at rail stations, two contact points in the Western Cape, and initial construction on the Khayelitsha Rail Extension project. 308 coaches had been refurbished. Challenges included the number of coaches out of service, the lack of a strong management team, commuter dissatisfaction and decline in investment. A turnaround strategy envisaged three phases of development between 2006 and 2020. Questions by members addressed the operating loss, the decline in revenue, the depletion of rolling stock, the possibility of refurbishment, the calculation of depreciation, spending on security, poor infrastructure and lack of access to the disabled the Spoornet houses, and black economic empowerment. The need to extend transport links as part of access to economic opportunities was highlighted, and the importance of including transport issues in municipal planning discussed.
Briefing on the Road Traffic Management Corporation by Department of Transport
Mr J Makoakone, Senior General Manager: Policy Strategy and Implementation, Department of Transport, (DoT), reported that the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) had failed to submit its 2005/2006 annual report on time. The RTMC had also not produced annual reports for the 2003/2004 and 2004/2005 financial years.
A joint interim Steering Committee had been established to take over the management of the Corporation and it had appointed a caretaker CEO, Mr Thabo Tsholetsane. A draft strategic plan had been finalized and was presented to the shareholders’ committee.
As part of the interim measures, the Corporation would only focus on five of its ten legislated functions. These included the training of traffic officials, the gathering of road accident information; road accident investigation, communication and education regarding road safety and the development of road traffic infrastructure.
Since the RTMC had operated with no staff, the Department had deployed 45 staff members from its national office to the RTMC, in September 2005. This would ensure that specialised personnel supported the corporation.
Key persisting challenges were the lack of expertise in information technology, finance and human Resources. The Department was lending its support as an interim measure, but a recruitment drive would be launched to ensure that such expertise was acquired.
Mr O Mogale (ANC) raised his objections to the RTMC’s failure to table its 2005/2006 annual report to Parliament. He said that it was improper of the Corporation not to have prepared documentation. Members could not conduct proper hearings without the necessary documentation as well as a comprehensive explanation why an annual report could not be submitted.
The Chairperson acknowledged the member’s frustration. The rationale for the RTMC’s presence was to establish the reasons why it could not submit its report as well as the current status of the pending report. He said that the members could seek clarity on these issues.
Mr S Mshudulu (ANC) thanked the Chairperson for arranging a meeting with the RTMC as Members had a responsibility to ensure that public institutions and their structures functioned in the best interests of South Africa. He said that at the time the DoT had tabled its Annual Report in Parliament, certain key issues regarding the RTMC were raised by Members as well as by the Department. The meeting with the RTMC would assist everyone to understand some of its key functions, particularly the licensing process, as this was a very sensitive issue for the public and the institutions. The inefficiencies of the licensing process negatively impacted on eligibility for employment, especially for graduates. Due to the institutional handicaps of the RTMC, provincial departments could not issue licences effectively. The RTMC and DoT had expressed their commitment to eradicating these obstacles. He asked what measures were in place to ensure that the institution was adequately transformed in order to carry out its legislative mandate.
Mr S Farrow (DA) requested greater clarity on how the particular five functions were identified as priority areas. Although he understood that this was an interim measure, he asked what would happen to the remaining five functions defined in the enabling legislation.
Mr Makoakone answered that all stakeholders had collectively agreed upon these priority areas to be spearheaded by the National Department. The training of traffic officials was viewed as a priority, as was the setting of appropriate guidelines and standards for this job. RTMC’s supporting staff could perform certain administrative functions.
The Chairperson asked the Department to clarify what the “training of traffic officials” meant. She asked if the RTMC would set national standards for traffic officials or become involved in the actual training of staff.
Mr Makoakone responded that it would be setting national standards for traffic officials, but would not be assisting in the training of officials. It would identify, through consultations with the relevant role-players, the appropriate accreditation levels and investigate the level of compliance. Its role was to ensure and identify which agencies acted according to the necessary standards.
The Chairperson expressed his dissatisfaction at this response. The RTMC had to clarify its role and thus its functions and its place in the three spheres of government. This was a challenging but critical issue. The reason why RTMC had experienced deficiencies was due to the lack of clarity on what its role was or should be.
Mr Tsholetsane answered that the mandate of the RTMC was crafted in such a manner so as to ensure that it could consult with all three spheres of government. Its functions, therefore, spanned local, national and provincial governments. The Corporation had a legislative responsibility to set appropriate standards for road traffic management. It could also enter into contractual arrangements with local authorities or agencies to perform certain duties, such as licensing as well as the training of traffic officials.
The Chairperson said that although RTMC was governed by legislation, its functions and role should also be guided by practice and experience. He reiterated that the Corporation’s function was to set standards for, rather than directly implement the training of staff. This was the responsibility of local and provincial departments. It had to focus on the monitoring of road traffic management as well as how local and provincial authorities conformed to the standards of the licensing process. He said that presumably the issue of revenue flows would also pose a challenge.
Mr Tsholetsane reiterated that the changes made to the RTMC would also be made with the consent of the shareholders. The shareholder Committee guided the RTMC.
Ms N Khunou (ANC) asked who the shareholders were, and asked how regularly they were meeting.
The Chairperson responded that the shareholders were the nine MEC’s, the Minister and the South African Local Government Association (SALGA). He said that it would be most surprising if, given the persistence of the challenges, the shareholders had met regularly.
Mr Tsholetsane replied that the Revenue Act allowed the RTMC to give any institution that had been found competent in the training of staff the right to proceed with further training. This would also serve as an incentive for enhancing the quality of these training institutions.
He added that the bulk of the money raised through licences was paid to National Treasury. RTMC had raised money through transaction fees, and it had negotiated with National Treasury to transfer such fees to the corporation.
Mr Farrow expressed his concern that the Corporation did not have the adequate capacity to manage the licensing system as well as award licensing contracts. The Corporation had not managed to produce annual reports for the past three financial years. He said that the Committee had to ensure that the Corporation committed itself to these interim arrangements to ensure its effective operation.
Mr Makoakone responded that local government was responsible for the licence certification process. Road traffic monitoring was the responsibility of the provincial and national departments. Given these clearly defined roles, the problems faced by the corporation would not inhibit the functions.
Mr Mshudulu was concerned at the discrepancy between the information about the RTMC contained in the Department’s Annual Report and the information now presented at the meeting. He said that further clarity was needed regarding the link between the Department and the RTMC, as well as on its five functions and the management of the road traffic information system.
Mr Makoakone responded that there was no contradiction, but that the annual report merely raised the key challenges faced by the organization as well as the role of the Department in overcoming these. Research and Development that was embodied by the road traffic information system was an embedded function of the corporation. The capacity of training colleges had to be improved, and was currently growing. Not all officials currently had the skills to enforce traffic standards. This was a further challenge. He said that the interim measures were employed to ensure greater efforts to assist RTMC to survive its institutional dilemmas.
The Chairperson re-emphasised that the institutional ambivalence faced by RTMC had to be resolved. It had to clarify whether it was a setter of standards that would eventually involve itself in the training of officials, or merely the provider of a framework of standards.
Ms N Khunou queried the impact of the shortage of personnel on the training of traffic officials and the capacity of training colleges. RTMC had not been able to rectify this problem over the last 30 months. She suggested that RTMC had set too ambitious targets that proved very difficult to realise, given the practical challenges of human resources. She asked if the pending annual report would focus on this problem. She added that it was important to know what had been done with taxpayers’ money.
Mr M Swathe (DA) added that RTMC had failed to produce annual reports for the past three financial years, and asked if it could account for how public funds were spent.
Mr Mogale said that the Road Safety Regulator had a smaller staff capacity, and had managed to produce an annual report. He could not understand why the RTMC could not produce such a report. Public entities were obliged in terms of the Public Finance Management Act to provide the necessary documentation.
The Chairperson agreed that the RTMC had failed in its legal obligation to submit its past annual reports. However, the Committee was meeting with RTMC to ascertain why it had missed the deadline to submit its 2005/2006 Annual Report. He said that this was linked to understanding what the problem was. It could be the impact of inefficient management, a systemic issue or merely a lack of clarity on its role. The latter possibility could also be linked to the stipulations of the legislation, and therefore Parliament had to acknowledge its responsibility. He suspected the problem may be systemic but everyone, including the Committee, had to assist in finding solutions to the problem.
Mr Farrow added that if the problems were related to the legislation, then parliament, as part of its oversight role, had to create and enact the necessary amendments, together with other key actors, to ensure that RTMC could function effectively.
Ms Khunou wondered what would happen with the remaining five legislated functions of the RTMC.
Mr Makoakone answered that the problem was not merely related to money. The functions were informed by RTMC’s role as a standard setter. The gathering of road traffic information was an important strategic imperative that would assist in setting adequate standards for both road users and traffic officials. RTMC would also investigate accidents that involved five or more fatalities. This would create information about the causes of serious accidents.
The Chairperson said that the response once again revealed confusion about its role. The RTMC should be cautious about duplicating the functions of other authorities. The investigation of road traffic accidents was largely the responsibility of the metro traffic departments. RTMC should rather be concerned with providing information on management systems.
Mr Mogale suggested that there was no further discussion needed now as Members had to have the necessary documentation to have meaningful discussions.
The Chairperson acknowledged the RTMC’s dilemma. A 2005/2006 Annual report had been drafted, but could only be tabled once approved by the Minister of Transport, Jeff Radebe. The Committee would meet with RTMC once that had been received.
Briefing by South African Rail Commuter Corporation on Annual Report 2005/6
Mr L Montana, Chief Executive Officer, South African Rail Commuter Corporation (SARCC), presented the 2005/2006 Annual Report. He focused on the key areas of the transformation of public transport; an overview of the Corporation’s key financial indicators for 2005/2006, the strategic response to inefficiencies within the rail transport system, and its plans for the 2010 Soccer World Cup.
Public transport was considered a national priority and investment in the public transport infrastructure had been increased. The national transport indaba marked a major victory for the integrated mass Rapid Transport Networks (RTNs) of rail, bus, taxis, cyclists, and pedestrians. These transport networks had to be driven and managed by the municipalities. The January 2007 Cabinet Lekgotla would be critical in the transformation of public transport system.
The SARCC, as a commuter rail business, was currently exempt from VAT, resulting in a higher increase in the subsidy received. The subsidy was only receivable in terms of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) allocations.
The SARCC had received an unqualified audit report from the Auditor General. This followed clear instructions from the Minister of Transport to deliver an unqualified report. A strategic decision was taken by government to separate freight and passenger transport. The Cabinet had also decided to consolidate passenger rail entities.
Highlights from the past financial year included the deployment of 800 South African Police Service (SAPS) police at railway stations; the establishment of two contact points in the Western Cape, and initial construction on the Khayelitsha Rail Extension (KRE) project. 308 coaches had been refurbished at a cost of R800 million.
The Board assumed a more active role in the early phase of consolidation, which resulted in unusually high expenditure for Board related activities. SARCC lacked a strong management team and uncertainty remained between management and employees regarding pension funds, benefits and housing.
Key setbacks were also highlighted. More coaches had been taken out of service. This resulted in increased train delays, train cancellations, and commuter opposition to the declining services. There had also been a significant decline in investment in commuter rail. Services had thus been gradually eroded, particularly after 1992, when wholesale cuts were made to service times and frequencies. A combination of failure to meet passenger demands, a shifting focus away from commuter rail networks, management shortcomings as well as the lack of investment were cited as causes for the gradual erosion of services.
The National Passenger Rail Plan was a comprehensive Operational and infrastructure Investment Strategy. This plan was divided in a turnaround phase, from 2006 to 2009, Recovery Phase from 2010 to 2013, and Growth Phase from 2014 to 2020. These phases were geared towards the stabilisation of business, increased levels and quality of investment and the eventual increased mobility and market share of the railway system in South Africa.
Important threats to this plan included a continued decline in the availability of rolling stock, the inability to retain key technical staff, and theft and vandalism. The industry was not geared to cope with the increased levels of demand.
Mr Farrow asked whether the SARCC’s operating loss would be reimbursed by way of a subsidy. He said that he acknowledged that the operational subsidy had been included in the budget projections, and that a shortfall should have been covered by a subsidy.
Mr Montana replied that the SARCC had gone further than this subsidy, and had spent more than they received from government.
The Chairperson said that the revenue had been declining as a result of SARCC’s transformation into a single entity. The 2002/2003 budget reflected an allocation to both these entities. There were thus complications with the accounting of such changes. This included the Shosholoza link, which was still currently part of Transnet. He assumed that these developments changed the tax position of the corporation.
Mr Montana responded that fare evasion was a major concern as it contributed to the reduction of anticipated revenue. During the current financial year, fare revenue collection increased by 1.13%. He said that the assets transferred to the SARCC from Transnet increased the organisation’s income generating capacity. The actual income for the 2005/2006 financial year was 14.7%above target.
Mr B Dhlamini (IFP) asked for clarity of the contradicting figures regarding the shortfall for 2006, in particular of the difference between the shortfall before other income (R706 million) and the shortfall from operations (R530 million).
Ms Y Price, Manager: Financial Services, SARCC, responded that the difference was the depreciation, which had been taken out of the calculations in the one instance. She explained that all property, plant and equipment other than land were depreciated on the straight-line basis to write off the costs of assets to their residual values over their estimated useful lives. Depreciation was recognized even when the fair value of the assets exceeded its carrying amount. Depreciation did not cease when the asset became idle or was retired from active use unless the asset was fully depreciated.
Where grants and subsidies related to the purchase of property, plant and equipment, the fair value would be classified as non-current liabilities and current liabilities, and would be released to the income statement on a straight-line basis period over 25 years. Grants and capital subsidies were not payable.
The Chairperson asked if that meant that the corporation needed a better capital subsidy.
Mr Farrow wanted clarity on the spending on security at stations, which was 8% of the overall budget for 2005/2006. He asked if this had made any difference compared to the previous years, and why SARCC had reduced its spending on this issue.
Mr Montana answered that figures regarding the deployment of security officials indicated a need for better coordination of a security strategy, agencies and officials.
Mr Harrison, Chief Operating Officer, SARCC, agreed that the key to a successful security strategy was coordination. There were currently sufficient security personnel deployed in the Western Cape, where crime at stations was particularly high. The SAPS had rolled out most of its officers in this province. The corporation had to uncover new plans for security. Crime was significantly lower, dropping from four or five crimes to half a crime per day. More improvement was possible, but would take time as lessons were learnt from experience.
The Chairperson said that the target of 65% reduction in crime was very ambitious and he hoped that the Department would be able to meet that. The significant reductions made already should be congratulated.
Mr Mogale asked if the security drive was merely a pilot project or would be extended to other provinces.
Mr Montana answered that the roll out of this project had already commenced in other provinces. SARCC had already deployed 262 officials in Gauteng, and 105 in specific stations in the Eastern Cape. The aim was to have a mobile force of at least 4 000 officials. Therefore there would be an increase from R14 million in 2005/2006 to R20 million in the next financial year.
The Chairperson noted that the financial and other challenges faced by SARCC related to the complicated transition. The unqualified report of the AG had to do with the nature of the transition.
Mr Farrow asked if SARCC had clear policy guidelines regarding the depreciation of assets.
Mr Montana answered that SCOPA made a similar observation.
Ms Price answered that this related to the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. Rolling stock had been divided into four components and the costs were then amortised over the life of the project. Study and design costs arising from business development would be recognized if the following conditions were adhered to: technical and commercial feasibility, sufficient resources to complete the projects and proof of how the project would generate future economic benefits. Where there was no asset recognition, the expenditure was recognised as an expense in the period in which it was incurred.
Mr Harrison responded that the depletion of rolling stock posed a serious challenge. This shortage placed a burden on existing railway systems. As the corporation wanted to preserve this stock, an increase in planned cancellations of trains could be expected. He stressed that vandalism also contributed to a shortage of trains.
Mr Farrow wondered how long it would take to refurbish or upgrade coaches, mentioning that Transnet would start their own refurbishing drive. He asked how this would impact on SARCC’s upgrading process.
Mr Harrison responded that the refurbishing would take approximately three months. Five companies were currently able to provide their services and had capacity to deliver. Three smaller companies were also included, as part of the black economic empowerment (BEE) initiatives, and would be largely mentored to lift levels of productivity. Two additional newly formed rail maintenance companies were also to be included in the longer term. The SARCC wanted to grow the industry while upgrading its own systems. Treasury needed a longer, five year term cycle, so as to give long-term orders that would provide more certainty in the industry.
Mr Swathe asked whether those coaches with a life span of 55-63 years would be able to be upgraded or must be replaced.
Mr Harrison answered that these were upgradeable, but the corporation had exceeded its general overhaul cycle. As a safety requirement, all those coaches that had not had a general overhaul in twelve years must be taken out of service. The SARCC was trying to catch up on its maintenance duties, but were taking more coaches out of service than putting them in. SARCC needed to produce four new coaches per day if it wanted to improve the efficiency of the system
Mr Dhlamini asked whether the currently available 3060 coaches included those that had to be upgraded, as if this was the case, then the figures were misleading.
Mr Harrison clarified that the design life of a coach spanned 50 years. This could be extended through technical intervention. Coaches were put out of service as precautionary, safety measures. With an upgrade, these coaches could be useful for another 10-15 years. Some had been out of service for two years and therefore had not been working pending their general overhauls. This was not a perfect solution, and in a sense the upgrade was an interim solution. SARCC really needed new coaches, but would not be able to afford such an expensive exercise.
Mr Farrow asked what the difference was in the cost of upgrading and replacement of coaches, and which was the most viable option.
Mr Montana said that both the maintenance and the replacement of coaches were critical. A new coach would cost R8 million, while and upgrade cost R4 to R5 million. The upgrade would be critical in maintaining the lifespan of a coach.
A member asked a question on issues raised by the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) about SARCC’s plans for the 2010 World Cup.
Mr Montana answered that SCOPA had raised concerns regarding the railway line from Johannesburg to Cape Town. That Committee was concerned about the quality of South Africa’s railway infrastructure.
Mr M Moss (ANC) expressed his concerns on the poor quality of infrastructure at stations. Citing a recent trip by 400 people to Saldanha, he informed the Committee that some stations lacked basic facilities such as platforms. He asked what criteria were used to establish which stations were eligible for an upgrade. He also asked whether there were timeframes to improve safety, and what plans were in place to realise this goal. He also expressed his concerns that many stations were not accessible for people with disabilities. This issue was also discussed during a recent study tour about the Gautrain.
Mr Montana replied that the SARCC focused on those stations within the developmental nodes. It had also come to a realization that it also must focus on those corridors that were most densely populated, which included the line from Khayelitsha to Cape Town. It recognised the need for the extension of railway lines.
He said that Minister Jeff Radebe was recently asked a question regarding the levels of accessibility of stations to people with disabilities, and the issue had also been raised at the recently held transport Indaba. Currently only one or two stations were fully accessible, but the upgrade program would ensure that platforms were at an adequate height, and that ticket offices and the building were accessible. This upgrade needed a substantial budget, and the SARCC was committed to improving accessibility to people with disabilities. The Department had issued performance targets to the management of the SARCC, which needed to be met.
Ms Khunou said that a good marketing strategy was needed to ensure that issues highlighted in the presentation were dealt with. Most of the concerns related to safety, cleanliness, late arrivals and vandalism. She would have liked to see these addressed more fully. She was
also concerned about the overcrowding of trains, and the consequent opportunities for crime and vandalism. She asked if police were evenly distributed at the stations or only concentrated at those stations where the project was being piloted.
Mr Montana confirmed that overcrowding created conditions for the perpetuation of crime on trains. He said that the basic safety regulations, such as keeping doors closed when a train was in motion, had to be adhered to.
Ms Khunou wondered what the status of the old “Spoornet” houses was. She asked if they had been maintained or improved, if any refurbishment was planned or whether they could be sold to employees at market value?
Ms T Mahlatati, Chief Financial Officer, Intersite said that these houses had not been maintained. Lessees had been encouraged to restore the houses. Currently, they were rented out at a monthly rate of R3 000, but the idea of selling them was being explored.
Ms Khunou asked whether there were any plans to upgrade stations other than those located in the developmental nodes.
Mr Montana said that more stations would be upgraded, but the names of these stations had not yet been confirmed.
Ms Mahlatati added that the upgrade of stations would transform these buildings into transport, economic and social hubs. This would ensure that important services such as banking facilities were readily available, that train services were coordinated with other modes of public transport, and that the informal sectors and other small business were developed. At the moment, the Finance Arrangement Act of 2000 did not allow Intersite to borrow capital from the private sector. Discussions were underway with Treasury and the Department to explore means to acquire the necessary capital for this project and to increase private sector involvement.
Mr Mogale asked whether the Railway Safety Campaign in Mabopane was a once off campaign.
Mr Montana confirmed that this was an established project. The SARCC regularly liased with the Rail Safety Regulator and was responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Interface Management Agreement between Metro rail and Spoornet in terms of safety regulations. Initiatives by SARCC, Metrorail and Spoornet to establish a safety and security committee aimed at training drivers had begun to bear fruit. Incidents of vandalism, mugging and theft continued to be addressed. Initiatives included the reintroduction of the railway police and the closed circuit television pilot projects in Western Cape, where most incidences of crime had been reported. This would be rolled out under the leadership of the SAPS. In addition to this, numerous asset upgrades were made to increase safety and security and to reduce safety related incidents. Incidents of derailments and ‘signal passed at danger’ had also been reduced.
Mr Mogale asked whether the Rail Cleanliness Campaign was a continuous project.
Mr Montana replied that the SARCC had received a mandate from the Minister to ensure that trains were more on time, safe, and clean. Train cleanliness was one of the biggest complaints to the SARCC. Planned quality checks would be utilized as a means to promote cleanliness on trains. This would be part of a three-year plan to create a quality train service.
Mr Mogale asked how far the Department and SARCC were regarding the Memoranda of Agreement with Provinces.
Mr Montana replied that the purpose of the Memoranda was to ensure that the issue of adequate public transport formed part of the developmental programmes of provinces. Provinces had given assurances that transport issues would be incorporated in their developmental programmes.
Mr Mogale asked if the SARCC had a separate BEE charter or adhered to the national.
Mr Moratana replied that in the past financial year the Corporation had managed to award tenders to companies that were at least 25% black-owned. These were in line with national imperatives. Spend on Black owned companies had been verified and at least 53% was allocated to previously disadvantaged individuals as compared to less than 30% in previous years. SARCC’s activities were informed by the broad based BEE Act, as well as their specific procurement policy.
Mr Mogale asked who was responsible for the monitoring of CCTV systems at the railway stations, whether the Railway Safety Regulator played a part, and what had been the outcomes of this monitoring.
Mr Montana said that the Department had issued a tender for this responsibility that was currently being adjudicated. Originally, SAPS were responsible for the monitoring of the surveillance system, which formed part of the drive to improve safety and security at stations.
Ms Nxumalo said that there was a need to expand railways and stations as townships were expanding. This would ensure that people had ready access to transport as well as economic opportunities.
Mr Montana agreed. He said that many people had been denied access to land and opportunities, and that the railway system had to expand itself to ensure that economic opportunities could be within reach. He noted that the ability to expand railway services was limited to the availability of the railway reserve. The delays in the process of acquiring land prolonged the lack of access to land and economic opportunities. The SARCC endeavoured to expand the railway line so that people could be easily connected to different places.
Mr Swathe asked whether the new set of trains would be evenly distributed across the provinces or would the availability of trains be limited to the metros.
Mr Mshudulu suggested that SALGA be invited to discuss the issues of train stations in their developmental plans. It was important to connect people to economic hubs. The recent Transport Indaba revealed the urgency for greater coordination between the transport systems and the three spheres of government. The integrated development plans of municipalities needed to include a focus on the improvement of the transport system.
Ms Khanou emphasised that skills development was central to an efficient railway service. Linked to this, she said that black skilled persons had to be rewarded bigger projects.
Mr Montana agreed that skills development was important in implementing the Turnaround Strategy for the railway system. The SARCC needed to ensure that all technical staff were adequately trained to operate as efficiently as possible. Currently, SARCC could not retain technical staff needed for the maintenance projects.
The Chairperson emphasised that the improvement of the railway transport system had to form part of the overall improvement of the public transport sector. It should form part of urban planning initiatives, as well as the Integrated Development Plans.
The Chairperson wondered whether the SARCC had considered the Centurion Report.
Mr Montana answered that a meeting was scheduled between this group and the SARCC. The Centurion Group had raised important issues around certain geological aspects of the railway system. It was a sensible report, and the SARCC was very eager to establish a working relationship with this group.
The meeting was adjourned.
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