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15 November 2006
eTHEKWINI TRANSPORT AUTHORITY: BRIEFING ON INTEGRATED TRANSPORT PLAN
Chairperson: Mr J Cronin (ANC)
Documents handed out:
eThekwini Transport Authority Presentation
Integrated Transport Plan for eThekwini
The eThekwini Transport Authority briefed the Committee on how it planned to implement various plans such as the road infrastructure plan and a successful road safety plan. Members were also provided with a detailed overview of the integrated transport plan that was felt would leave a legacy that will not only be environmentally sustainable, but one that would set a strong foundation for the restructuring of public transport.
The discussions generally focused on the legality of having Authority projects headed by politicians. Members felt that politicians come and go and it becomes a danger when they head long term projects as the projects usually are either terminated or delayed when new politicians come to power. The discussions also focused on subsidies for school transportation and the shortage of funding for large projects.
EThekwini Transport Authority (ETA) Briefing
The ETA was represented by Mr O Mlaba (Mayor: Ethekwini), Mr E Moller (Deputy Head: Public Transport, ETA), Mr L Moodley (Deputy Head: Strategic Transport Authority), and Mr D Naidoo (Deputy City Manager: eThekwini). Mr Mlaba stated that some of the successes of the ETA included the implementation of a road infrastructure plan, a successful road safety plan, and the commitment to improve the railway network by supplying refurbished train sets before 2010.
Mr Moodley provided an overview of ETA's integrated transport plan. The main focus of the plan is to provide long distance transport for the working masses. He stated that some of the challenges that faced the Integrated Transport Plan (ITP) included rapidly declining service levels and dilapidated vehicle fleets. Mr Moodley then gave a detailed analysis of the performance system of the ETA, and stated the deficit cost of the rail and bus subsidy would add up to approximately R414 million. He concluded that the ITP will leave a legacy that will not only be environmentally sustainable, but one that will set a strong foundation for the restructuring of public transport.
Mr Naidoo stated in his overview of the National Land Transport Transition Act (NLTTA) that problems included sustainable funding for the appropriate institutional bodies, lack of planning, regulated competition and appropriate modes of transport. He stated that the mandatory functions of the NLTTA included the preparation of transport plans, financial planning for land transport, and to encourage the use of public transport.
Mr S Farrow (DA) questioned the legality of having ETA projects headed by politicians. He also asked whether or not the ETA has taken the implications of 2010 into account with regards to the funding of the various projects. Mr Farrow also asked the ETA to provide more details on their integrated ticketing system and asked whether or not the color coding of the various taxis fall in line with the national taxi recapitalisation program. Finally in terms of priority, Mr Farrow suggested that the ETA should focus on improving the corridors one at a time instead of working on all the corridors at the same time.
Mr Moodley stated that the 2010 World Cup has become a catalyst for infrastructure development in eThekwini. In the short term ETA planned on developing new roads and rail networks which will benefit the residents of eThekwini in the long run. However some of the projects are being hampered as a result of lack of funding, and if construction did not begin immediately then 2010 might not happen. He stated that all political structures are subject to change; however the eThekwini municipality has had a stable political structure for the past 10 to 15 years. Mr Moodley stated further that with regards to the corridors they plan on having three transport authorities through out KwaZulu-Natal to cover the various corridors.
The Chair said that it was unnecessary to have transport authorities in the smaller municipalities; however there should be greater consultation between the smaller municipalities and the transport authority.
Mr Moodley assured the Chair that smaller municipalities are being consulted and that the transport authorities would be established in areas where there is a high transport density.
The Chair asked ETA to elaborate on how it differs from the Department of Transport.
Mr Naidoo stated that the difference between the ETA and the Department is a matter of operations, and administration structure. The ETA is an independent entity with a governing body that makes decisions and reports to the city council.
Mr B Mashile (ANC) asked the ETA to elaborate on the issue of the transportation of learners, and how it affects their plans. He asked ETA to explain how the subsidies paid directly to the eThekwini municipality get to the ETA.
Mr Moodley said that funds for ETA come directly from the municipality. There are various issues surrounding the transport subsidies to scholars. This is due to the fact that the number of pupils coming to study in Durban is increasing; however there is no funding for the increase which causes a major problem for the municipality.
Mr Mlaba thought that it was very unfair that school subsidies for eThekwini took longer than other provinces to be transferred, and that something should be done about the matter.
Mr O Mogale (ANC) asked the ETA to give clarity on its oversight function and how its governing body relates to the municipal council.
Mr Moodley stated that the governing structure of the ETA only dealt with policy issues, and that the oversight reports were given to council. >From the oversight reports it is council that determines whether or not ETA is headed in the right direction. National Treasury and provincial government also has an oversight role in that National Treasury must approve the integrated transport plans and the provincial MEC for transport is in charge of signing the integrated transport plan.
The Chair asked the ETA to comment on legislation dealing with the taxi recapitalisation program, and also to elaborate on some of the short term and long term plans of the ETA.
Mr Moodley said the ETA is experiencing problems with legislation and funding when it comes to the integrated transport plan, and the taxi recapitalisation program. The latter had to be changed; however the ETA is currently engaging with the taxi operators to deal with problematic issues.
Mr Mlaba stated that creating the corridors was a good idea for the future; however the major problem with planning the corridors is the availability of funds. It is of great concern that so much planning goes down the road but in the end there is not enough funds to sustain the projects. There is also a perception that the province is unable to handle big projects, which is something that has to change.
The Chair stated that there are many challenges that face the Metropolitan cities, and some of the challenges are far greater than that of the provincial government. Currently there is inadequate input from the Metropolitan councils, and something needs to be done to address the issue.
The meeting was adjourned.
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