Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment Bill [B1-2007]: briefing/adoption; South African Maritime Safety Authority; Road

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Transport

07 March 2007
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

TRANSPORT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
7 March 2007
CONVENTION ON INTERNATIONAL INTERESTS IN MOBILE EQUIPMENT BILL: BRIEFING & ADOPTION; SOUTH AFRICAN MARITIME SAFETY AUTHORITY; ROAD TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT CORPORATION: BUDGET & STRATEGIC PLANS 2007/08

Chairperson:
Mr J Cronin (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment Bill [B1-2007]
Presentation on International Interests in Mobile Equipment Bill
SAMSA presentation
South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) Budget 2007/08
Road Traffic Management Corporation presentation
Road Traffic Management Corporation Strategic Plan 2007-2010


SAMSA website


SUMMARY

The Department provided a briefing on the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment Bill which the Committee recommended be passed by the National Assembly without amendments. It would enhance the control over mobile equipment installed on aircraft, and the acceptance of the Bill would have benefits for aircraft owners seeking finance. Only a few South African Development Community (SADC) and other African states had ratified the treaty.

The South African Maritime Safety Agency presented its Annual Report to the Committee. Their mandate was to cover three areas. Firstly, they were responsible for the safety of lives and property. Secondly, they were mandated to provide services such as towing and pollution prevention. The final element of the mandate was the promotion of South African maritime interests. They realised that their role should be more oriented towards safety standards rather than economic issues. International relations were maintained through serving on international bodies, and training projects had been established for some foreign countries. There was also co-operation with neighbouring countries. Locally the focus was mainly on the support of the fishing industry, while attention was also paid to the safety of stevedores. A presentation was also given on the budget, which had been for a deficit of R 17 million in the 2007 Financial Year.

Members criticised the Agency for not providing them with the document in good time so that meaningful interaction could take place. Staff costs were queried as well as the job creation aspects of their work. Members also wanted to know why the Agency’s office was in Pretoria. The impact of sea-going disasters on local communities was emphasised. It was pointed out that the Strategic Plan presented was a mere carry-over from the previous year, which the delegation admitted was the case.

The Road Traffic Management Corporation had only recently been established as an attempt to co-ordinate the efforts of national, provincial and local government authorities. Road traffic accident fatalities were constant relative to the growth of the population. The ten function areas for the Corporation were described, of which only five had been allocated to them at present. The Administrative Adjustment of Road Traffic Offences Act of 1998 would eventually come into force with a pilot project to be launched later in the year. The attitude of the public towards road traffic rules and safety was shocking. A service agreement would be concluded with the Road Traffic Infringement Agency. Their budget was also presented.

Members suggested that more regular meetings should be held, which would allow for better monitoring of progress.

MINUTES
Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment Bill: briefing by Department

Mr Johann Bierman (Director: Civil Aviation, Branch: Transport Regulation and Accident & Incident Investigation, Department of Transport) presented a refresher briefing to the Committee on the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment Bill.

He provided background information on the Convention which had had already been passed. A diplomatic conference had been held in October 2001 from which the Convention had emerged. The National Assembly had approved it on 20 June 2006 and the National Council of Provinces on 19 September 2006. The instrument of ratification had been approved on 16 January 2007. The main benefit and purpose of the Convention was the establishment of a legal regime to control mobile equipment. A major stumbling block was the differences between nations and legal systems controlling aircraft registration and equipment. However, the Convention would see the reduction of capital and lease costs for aircraft. Already certain financiers in the United States were offering 33% discounts in risk premiums on financing large commercial aircraft.

He said that the problems in Africa were high on the agenda. The implementation of the Convention would have positive effects in the acquisition of new aircraft and the upgrading of current fleets. Benefits would be both in terms of economics and safety.

The objectives of the Bill were to effect matters specifically regarding aircraft equipment, to bring the Convention into international law and to provide for connected matters. It was a very self-contained document. He then went through the different sections of the Bill. In terms of current legislation, the South African Civil Aviation Authority was responsible for aircraft registration and matters of financial interest.

The Chairperson interrupted Mr Bierman’s discussion of Clause 4, asking why the text was worded ‘may’ rather than ‘will be’ or ‘shall’.

Mr Bierman replied that the point had been considered. It was something interesting in the Convention that there was an option between ‘may’ and ‘shall’. This was a channel that was open in the document, and would be a possible future change.

He compared the Bill with the current act, the Convention on the International Recognition of Rights in Aircraft Act of 1993. The Act of 1993 was based on the Geneva Convention of 1948. Provision was made for local registers of aircraft and registers of financial interest in equipment and engines. Each participating country had its own registers, and all registers would have to be consulted when information was needed. The new system would cater for a centralised system. There were administrative costs of maintaining the local registers, but these would fall away. There would be some cost for accessing the central register.

Mr Bierman said that there had been widespread consultation. The State Law Advisor had been consulted, which had resulted in some amendments. The Bill was compliant with international practice. It would be an ambitious project, but the process was solid. There would be no financial implications for the state, as this was essentially private law. The proposal was for asset-based finance and the protection of aircraft equipment. He recommended to the Committee that the Bill be approved.

Discussion

Mr S Farrow (DA) said that the Bill referred to mobile equipment, but this included aircraft and engines. He noted that military and ex-military aircraft were being restored in some parts of the country. He asked if these were in compliance with the Bill. Some of these parts would be interchangeable with commercial aircraft. He asked if the Bill addressed this issue.

Mr Bierman answered that components were specifically tracked. Engines could be financed whether or not they were attached to an airframe. The industry was very regulated and trade was covered by protocols. Military aircraft represented a different problem as they were in a different league and had different maintenance records and programmes.

Mr Farrow assumed that SADC had bought into the international agreement. If the Convention was not ratified in other countries, control could be difficult. He quoted the example of an aircraft being assembled in Zambia and brought into South Africa.

Mr Bierman replied that the main purpose of the Convention was the facilitation of financing. Issues of airworthiness were covered by the Aviation Act, as well as import and export regulations.

The Chairperson felt the issues were clear. The Bill was designed as more of a facilitation mechanism for finances rather than for enforcement of regulations.

Mr B Mashile (ANC) asked about the international impact of the Bill. He needed clarity on the consultation process. He asked if the Bill would only concern South African interests, or would address anything at an international level.

Mr Bierman said that there had been a lot of international co-operation. A number of states had signed and ratified the Convention. However, Ethiopia, Kenya, Senegal and South Africa were the only African states to ratify the Convention. Other countries were being urged to follow suit in order to reap the financial benefits.

Ms N Khunou (ANC) asked who the financiers were.

Mr Bierman replied that this could be any financial institution. He mentioned the example of EXOM Bank in the USA, which offered a 33% reduction on the financing of large commercial aircraft. The Convention applied more to this type of aircraft, which necessitated huge investments.

The Chairperson proposed a motion of desirability. Mr Farrow moved the motion and Ms Khunou seconded. It was recommended that the Bill be passed without amendment. It would be tabled in the National Assembly on 15 March 2007. He recommended that no debate was needed. The Department of Transport (DoT) had done good work with this Bill. The next piece of legislation would concern the behaviour of passengers.

Department of Transport budget hearings: briefings by South African Maritime Safety Agency (SAMSA) and Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC)
Mr O Mogale (ANC) complained that SAMSA and RTMC had not provided the documents prior to that day's meeting. Members should not be browsing through these documents during the meeting due to their not receiving them beforehand. There was public debate that Members of Parliament were doing nothing more than rubber-stamping legislation. In order to fulfil their oversight role they needed the necessary information. He suggested that documents should be provided at least seven days in advance.

The Chairperson said this was absolutely correct. Some entities were better than others in meeting this request.

Mr Mashile said that the Committee had been presented with a fifty-page document. He asked if the Committee could assist SAMSA in the short term. The Committee would be able to hear and assist SAMSA, but it could not do this unless it had time to prepare properly. He felt that the delegation should be sent home immediately and return later once the Committee was prepared.

Mr Farrow asked what the implications of the budget would be, as there were no financial figures in the presentation. The strategic plan looked fine, but there needed to be some comparison with the budget to gauge progress towards the achievement of objectives.

The Chairman decided in consultation with the Members that the presentation should proceed, but there would have to be an assessment by the Committee afterwards as to whether a better-prepared hearing should be held later.

Ms Khunou said that the Transport Budget would be debated on 27 March 2007. It would be a futile exercise if it was only done afterwards. She felt the need for an apology, but agreed that the meeting should proceed.

The Chairperson said that the Committee would not get to see all the entities of the DoT. The Committee Report on the Department's Budget (Vote 33) would only be approved once the Committee was satisfied. The Members should not worry about this, but the situation was not ideal. As there were no contrary view, he ruled that the meeting could proceed.

South African Maritime Safety Agency (SAMSA) presentation
Mr Lance Manala (Chairperson, SAMSA Board) introduced the SAMSA delegation. He noted that the organisation's structure was included in the presentation.

Mr Carl Briesch (Acting Chief Executive Officer and Manager: Legal & Compliance, SAMSA) apologised for the late delivery of the presentation. They had tried to meet the deadline.

The Chairperson assured him that SAMSA was generally not the worst entity in this regard.

Mr Briesch said that the budget had been sent to the Committee and should be available. A written report on the budget was available, as well as a financial sustainability estimate.

SAMSA was a Schedule 3A public entity which had been established during 1998. It had a vast area of responsibility, including South Africa’s island possessions in the Southern Ocean. The country’s continental shelf claim was subject to verification, but the government was busy with this process. There was also a vast area of Search and Rescue responsibility.

Mr Briesch said that SAMSA had received a mandate, which had three elements. The first was the safeguarding of life and property. Standards had to be set and monitored. Accidents had to be investigated and the Agency provided a Search and Rescue Co-ordinating role. The second was the pollution prevention. Here standards had to be set and compliance monitored. There had to be a response capability including provision for towing. The third element was the promotion of South Africa’s maritime interests. The problem SAMSA had was that the definition was so broad. This included areas of policy and maritime industries, welfare of seafarers and international relations and co-operation.

He then presented the Agency’s Vision and Mission. Its security responsibility was only on the seaboard side of maritime operations. One of the key values was the quality of service.

Mr Briesch gave on overview of how SAMSA was governed. The Minister of Transport was the executive authority, assisted by a Board of six members, apart from the CEO who served on the Board ex officio. The Minister appointed the Board from nominations submitted by the public. The DoT was proposing legislation to standardise the appointment of Chief Executive Officers in all the DoT agencies. There were various committees, in particular an audit and risk assessment committee, a remuneration and human resources committee and a research and technology committee.

Mr Briesch told the Committee that SAMSA had a staff of 127. Of these, 27 were employed at Head Office in Pretoria, 81 were deployed at seven points of operations around the coast and 19 at the Maritime Rescue Co-Ordination Centre. A new operations centre was being established at Port Nolloth with a view to supporting the diamond mining and offshore fishing industries. It would be a sub-station of Saldanha Bay.

He presented the Agency’s organisation chart. Vacancies were a challenge, including the post of Chief Financial Officer. Posts in the Integrated Technology and Communications section had been filled.

He listed several core functions. These included environmental protection and maritime safety standards. SAMSA had to monitor compliance, which was a stronger function than the strategic aspects of determining standards. There was capacity to be built on. Emergency response was another function, and the final one was creating opportunities for seafarers and fostering maritime interests.

Mr Briesch stressed that SAMSA was a safety agency rather than an economic regulator. However, it had a role to promote a competitive framework. Various activities were listed in the presentation including legislation and setting of standards. Its priority was to focus on local issues, and it was building capacity to fulfil the role expected by government, both in South Africa and in the region.

He said that R 1.4 million was allocated for staff training, and this was 2.5 % of the employee costs. Strategic partnerships had been forged with Danish and Singaporean authorities to provide exchange and training programmes. One such programme had already been set up with Denmark. An internship programme had been set up with a view to identifying talent. However, there was not a lot of money for non-technical training. Some money had been set aside, and there was enough to send three or four people on a programme.

The research programme was to assist the organisation to develop a proper research agenda. A great deal of work had to be done to prepare members of SAMSA to provide valid contributions to the activities of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). This was needed if South Africa was to make a quality impact, and this was already happening, particularly regarding the fishing industry. A technical support team had been created by re-deploying staff to serve on it, and there was no major impact there.

One of the strategic objectives was to ensure safe, secure and environmentally responsible maritime transport operations. Policies regarding the safety of fishing vessels were awaiting ministerial approval. New international standards had been set, and South African legislation was already ahead of some of these. A greater degree of career mobility would be possible for seafarers using the fishing industry as a means of advancing their careers. There was a new focus on the safety of stevedores. SAMSA was waiting for a change of legislation here, as there had been a significant number of accidents, many of which were serious. In terms of the seagoing part of the industry, he noted that South Africa had no merchant marine to speak of. SAMSA was interesting in developing this aspect, but at present only one major merchant vessel flew the South African flag. The focus was therefore more on fishing and specialist vessels.

Mr Briesh said that another strategic objective was setting standards for labour practices and the welfare of seafarers. Compulsory accident insurance was needed. An overarching labour convention had been held, and the resulting practices were being extended to the fishing industry. South Africa was a key player in this area, and its systems were well advanced.

Mr Briesch said that another strategic objective was the improvement of business and management systems. Upgrades were needed as SAMSA was using old technology. Upgraded databases would provide better statistics and improve management decisions. Quality assurance certification for seafarers would be captured on a centralised system. If South Africa did not comply with international standards there would be a loss of status. This would have a serious negative impact on South African sailors. A new financial system was finally in place, and its rollout should be occurring at the start of April 2007.

Mr Briesch mentioned a final strategic objective. This was the upgrade of the South African maritime industry. Talks were being held with the export industry. There was virtually no law in this sector. He thought that a tonnage tax initiative might attract South African operators to utilise ships sailing under the South African flag.

Mr Manala added that there was a dialogue with the export sector and the shipping industry. The Committee could make a massive impact on the industry. Opportunities were not being exploited. Millions of tons of coal and iron ore were being exported through Richards Bay and Saldanha Bay respectively. Saldanha Bay and Durban processed millions of tons of imported oil. There were many training institutes. The impoverished communities were often found on the coast. There were limited opportunities for South Africans. SAMSA would sponsor dialogue, and he hoped that the government would also get on board. There had to be a drive to create a viable industry. He hoped that local ships would be maintained locally using local sources. The community would benefit from this. At present, maritime legislation had no teeth.

Mr Briesch then touched on SAMSA’s external relations and communications. The current state of its website was an embarrassment. Recent appointments had drawn key attention. They were looking to improve their stakeholder engagement. A first move had been made to creating a shareholder forum which would understand the industry and discuss relevant current and proposed legislation. This was already happening but in an unstructured manner. The last fishing indaba to be held had been well received.

He then discussed the next strategic objective, which was a focus on regional issues. This was happening on an ad hoc basis. The DoT would have to tell SAMSA what to expect here. The Agency was to engage with their Southern African counterparts on matters of common interest, but existing structures were not particularly effective. When issues were taken up, there had to be clear understanding of regional issues.

Mr Briesch said that SAMSA was an implementing agency for the Western Indian Ocean Marine Highway project. Significant resources were needed to succeed with the project. Funds were available on the budget, with contingency costs providing for preparatory costs before the first grants became available.

South Africa had hosted a meeting of the Indian Ocean Memorandum of Understanding of Port State countries. International focus was mainly on the IMO and International Labour Organisation (ILO). The focus at the IMO was on safety standards for fishing vessels, and at the ILO on labour standards. Results of these ongoing discussions were expected towards the end of 2008.

The budgetary statement was distributed to members. The Chairperson asked that key aspects be highlighted.

Mr Briesch said that there was a budget running up to 2010. Sustainability had been predicted. The budget for the 2006 Financial Year (FY) had anticipated operating revenue of R 60 million, but expenses were R 70 million. This was a funding problem, as it entailed an operating deficit of R 10.5 million. The 2007 FY forecast had been affected by a high level of vacancies, which compromised operational efficiency. A restructuring process had been undertaken. The situation was not actually as bad as it seemed, as there had been a significant underspend on the budget. The budget had been for a deficit of R 17 million but was only actually R 3.5 million. A large chunk of the budget was for employee costs. There had been a reduction of 8% on the budget, which he thought was adequate. SAMSA had cash reserves of approximately R 83 million, which earned approximately R 6.5 million in interest per annum. Capital expenditure would be R 3.4 million, and the net effect would be that R 7 million would be transferred from the reserves.

Discussion

Ms Khunou said that it was arrogant of SAMSA to continue with the presentation as they had been late. In the budget speech of Minister Manuel, there had been a theme of ubuntu, which could be seen as the valuing of people. She asked if this was addressed in SAMSA’s planning by job creation, or if growth would only be for the few. She asked why SAMSA’s head office was in Gauteng. She asked what SAMSA was giving to the community. She asked if there were any protocols to guide international relations. In terms of training and development, she urged the Agency not to forget women, youth and the disabled. She asked if the training questions had been taken into cognisance. The SAMSA chairperson had spoken about the export industry, which was a huge market. She asked if there was a problem with revenue collection. The bulk of the budget was directed towards employment.

The Chairperson said that he had heard an apology for the delegation being late. Safety inspections were the principle source of revenue, which came in the form of levies collected by the port authorities. The process of inspection was labour intensive.

Mr Farrow said that it was difficult to interrogate the budget statement. The cost of staff was R 16.5 million. He asked if vacancies were impacting on revenue. He asked if there had been any real investigation to the viability of the Pretoria office. There was some bureaucracy. The systems were all in place at all the ports. The SAMSA training programme was parallel to that of the relevant Seta, and there was a replication of effort. Specific roles might be enhanced by overseas training. There had been no response to a request over SAMSA’s agreement with Pentow Marine. A copy should have been circulated.

Mr Manala said that all entities must participate in the job creation process. SAMSA was not an economic regulator. Opportunities for shared growth should be highlighted. This was particularly true in the coastal communities, where there should be a value chain for the maritime community. Intervention was needed elsewhere. For example, mineral exporters should be encouraged to make use of locally registered vessels. The location of the head office was the subject of ongoing debate internally. It was necessary for SAMSA to interact with the DoT. The title was a nominal one. The staff complement in Pretoria was only 27, most of whom undertook basic administrative tasks. Most of SAMSA’s staff were utilised for operations at their coastal stations. The Pretoria office was necessary, but was kept to a limited number of people. Competency was needed elsewhere.

He said that there was a lot of activity in the fishing community. Most of the skippers came from the community and employers found it easy to hire and fire them. Lifestyles often tended to lead to substance abuse because of this practice. There was an increased safety awareness for skippers and crews. There was an ongoing need to look at wages and conditions of service. Proactive welfare activities were undertaken in the communities. Counselling was offered after any accident.

Mr Manala was proud of the quality of SAMSA’s work. There was a capability for the Agency to go to the IMO. Global trade was a common issue, and SAMSA could benchmark itself against international practice. Protocols for foreign co-operation were guided by the DoT. The Department would provide the political interaction and SAMSA the technical support in these enterprises. No protocol was needed, as SAMSA would be part of a delegation led by DoT.

He said that SAMSA recognised the need to train women and the disabled. There were three committees which were ensuring that this happened, and two of these were chaired by women. They were doing a great job. The utilisation of disabled persons remained a challenge which had to be overcome. Some activities were not suitable for disabled persons, especially in the inspection of ships.

Mr Manala said that SAMSA’s income was from levies. There was no direct collation between their income and the growth of the import and export industries.

Mr Briesch added that the training provisions had been misunderstood. The allocation of R 1.4 million was for staff training. Budgetary provision was significantly higher than the actual expenditure. There had been a 3.4 staff increase, and vacancies were considered in this figure. There was a problem area with other costs. Some expenses had been overstated. It was clear that there was a significant underspend. A lot of SAMSA’s functions were not fully operational due to vacancies on the managerial side. He would try to get a copy of the agreement with Smit-Pentow. SAMSA had not dealt directly with this, as the agreement was between DoT and the company.

The Chairperson said that the third item on the mandate was SAMSA’s role as a safety agency. There was a question of how to judge the requirement to promote South Africa’s maritime interests, as the wording was vague. South Africa needed a champion. He felt that the DoT should play this role. SAMSA was doing a good job, and there were a number of positives. One of the problems in the organisation was the high vacancy rate. A swat analysis had shown a lack of trust in the organisation. This was the result of poor management. More must be done. Meetings should be held regularly and the provisions of the Public Finances Management Act (PFMA) must be complied with. The DoT must oversee the direction of the Agency, and there were serious concerns there.

Mr M Moss (ANC) said that safety was the priority of SAMSA. He welcomed the efforts to achieve this both for vessels and seafarers. However, people were still dying. Fishing must be the most dangerous job on earth. Crews had no security or insurance. The role of SAMSA at the ILO was noted, but he asked if there was any co-operation with the Department of Labour locally. It was a crisis for the community when people drowned. Job creation was a particular problem coupled with the problem of falling fish stocks. South Africa exported raw materials and imported the manufactured goods. This trade could create millions of jobs although there was still a skills shortage.

Mr Mogale was worried that the document attached to the presentation was no more than a cut and paste. The strategic plan was the same as the previous year. He asked if the document was simply carried over. As a Member of Parliament, he had to play an oversight role in a balanced manner. He asked where the issues were which were related to ASGISA. It was not clear what the correlation was between the 2006 strategic plans and their outcomes. These should be made clear. The Annual Report presented in October should be a report on the strategic plan. He asked if the employment equity plan was addressed in the report.

Mr Manala replied that security of personnel had been highlighted, and SAMSA was working closely with the Department of Labour on this issue. The strategic plan document was the one from the previous year. The situation had improved since then. A calendar had been drawn up for meetings for the committees. Centralised power was not the issue, and there was a great deal of committee work handled by the Board. SAMSA was PFMA-compliant. Reports had been submitted on time and the financial statements were in order. There were problems in SAMSA’s interaction with DoT, as it sometimes seemed documentation was being submitted into a vacuum. This problem had been handled to a large degree.

He said that vacancies were causing massive delays, and were extremely concerning. The CEO would be appointed first, and then his team. The chairpersons of the various committees and their members had been appointed. Costs were increasing.

Mr Briesch said that employment equity reports had been on time. The statistics were reported quarterly, and also in the annual report. The information could be provided easily.

Capt S Moday (General Manager: Operations, SAMSA) said that there had been a marked reduction in the number of fatal accidents.

The Chairperson said that the Committee could help SAMSA where needed. It was not necessary for the Committee to play a policing role. He did not have the answers to the CEO appointment. Umbrella legislation regarding these appointments would be introduced in the National Assembly’s next term which would bring clarity.

Mr Manala said SAMSA was now recruiting staff.

The Chairperson urged SAMSA to make use of the Members, as they could cut across lines to assist.

Mr Farrow said the appointment of the CEO was crucial. Too much of the day-to-day management of SAMSA’s affairs was being undertaken by the Board. An open and transparent process was needed.

The Chairperson asked SAMSA to send the Committee a letter to outline their concerns.

Capt Moday said that SAMSA was promoting the country. South Africa was on the White List, which ensured job opportunities for South Africans. All certification was above board. There was recognition from the IMO, ILO and African bodies.

The Chairperson mused that SAMSA should receive the same respect in the country as from the rest of the world. Perhaps the role was too focussed, but the right people were doing the job. It was SAMSA’s role to do the safety role well. The question was on how to expand on other possibilities.

Mr Mogale said that ASGISA was largely a DoT issue. Each entity under its control had a responsibility to deal with the issue. He asked how many interns were currently employed. He asked about the scholarship programmes. These had been bullet points, but more detail was needed.

Mr Briesch said that there were no interns at present but there was a target of ten. There were three or four scholarships depending on the direction of study.

Road Traffic Management Corporation presentation
Dr J Sampson (Chairman, RTMC Board) introduced his fellow board members. The Road Traffic Act of 1999 had anticipated the RTMC which was only established during 2005. Staff had been seconded from other departments, and many were still in acting capacities. The Board had been approved in January 2007, and had sat for its first meeting on 31 January 2007. A strategic plan meeting had been held in February, and had met with the Minister later that month. This had taken the place of the interim Board, and the new Board had not been in office for a long time.

He said that the RTMC Board was responsible to the Minister, the DoT and the Stakeholder Committee. The Chairperson was appointed by the Minister, and was a link between provincial and local government. The StakeHolder Committee had a number of functions. The RTMC was in a fairly unique position, as this function was not previously a function of national government, but was a provincial and local competency.

Of ten identified functions, five had been given to the RTMC to manage. One of those not given was law enforcement. The Board was serious about what to do. There were 15 000 road deaths per annum. Safety should be an effort for all parties. This casualty rate was twenty times worse than in the USA, Europe or Australia. The Board would do something about this. The fatality rate was constant in proportion to the population. He had asked his CEO to concentrate on plans to improve road safety.

Mr Thabo Tsholetsane (Acting CEO, RTMC) said that the Board had been well chosen and the necessary skills were present. He presented the Vision, Mission and Values to the Committee. Their mandate was to integrate the powers and resources of the three spheres of government. Ten functional areas had been identified, of which five had been placed under the responsibility of the RTMC. These were the training of traffic personnel, Establishing a road traffic information process, Crash investigation, road safety communication and education, and to generate an infrastructure safety audit and traffic engineering report.

Law enforcement would still have to be co-ordinated. There should be harmony amongst all spheres of government. The key was management and the implementation of the Road Traffic Law Enforcement Code.

He said that there were currently ten colleges for traffic officials. The RTMC was looking at incorporating all of these into a single National Academy, with its location at Boekenhoutskloof in Gauteng. The current ten colleges would have to be integrated.

Mr Tsholetsane said the RTMC was preparing to take over the management of vehicle registration and licencing. There was a lack of facilities at present. A code had to be developed. They were looking at advanced vehicle and roadworthy testing. Some foreign companies were looking at moving into the market, and this might avoid corruption. In terms of the testing and licencing of drivers, A partnership was needed to combat corruption, while attention had to be paid to the overloading of test stations.

The road traffic information system needed to be beefed up. Information had to be collated and analysed. Crash investigation and recording would analyse road traffic performance reports. The results of the analysis would assist with the planning process An annual survey would be published to determine trends which would in turn be used to focus law enforcement activities. There was an on-line system but its performance was unsatisfactory. The RTMC would investigate every accident in which there were five or more fatalities, such as the bus crash at Wepener recently. They felt that the sentence in that case had been too lenient but the court did make use of their information. There was a need for timeous updating of the data. Skills would be upgraded and a call centre would be established.

He said that road safety course should be introduced into schools as part of the RTMC’s communication and education responsibility. Courses would be held from Grade 1 to Grade 8. They would look to include this in the Further Education and Training programme, and learner licence tests should be done at schools. Heavy vehicle training was provided at provincial level, but the numbers involved were limited. The private sector should be made part of the process. A global road safety partnership, for which financial assistance would be needed, would look to promote both road and pedestrian safety.

Mr Tsholetsane said that the RTMC would conduct infrastructure safety audits. It would need to treble its staff to cope with the task. Speed limits would be revised so that there would be a uniform approach throughout the country. The manual of traffic signs was being left to the private sector. The RTMC wanted to see this document being spread to schools, with perhaps an option for the schools to produce and sell the manual. There were some plans, at low cost, to involve the community in identifying and dealing with hazardous areas. Seed finance would be provided by RTMC. The numbering of routes caused confusion, especially in the rural areas, and this would be addressed.

The Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act (AARTOA) would see drastic changes. The RTMC needed to look at a service level agreement with the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA). A national contravention register was in the final stages of completion, which would enable offenders to pay fines anywhere in the country. A pilot scheme to test the AARTOA would be launched in Tshwane shortly. He hoped that the Board would be in place by August 2007.

Dr Sampson said that the Minister regarded road safety as a top priority.

Mr Tsholetsane said that the Act would come into force within a month. It had been promulgated but was not yet in force. All the paperwork was ready. The Act had to be activated before the pilot project could start. Another aspect of the AARTOA was the points demerit system.

He added that there were nine technical support service areas. There was a legacy of non-compliance in various facets. Some of the support areas were already up and running. In terms of the budget, National Treasury had allocated R 92 million. R 150 million had originally been allocated, but money earmarked for the National Traffic Information System had been sent back. There was a R 35 million rollover. The current budget was R 128 million, which would increase to R 146 million by 2009/10. He provided the expenditure details, and the budget was a break-even scenario.

Discussion
Mr Mashile noted that the Board had been active only since January. They were trying their best to give an administrative report. Since their first meeting they had met with the DoT, and he asked how this had influenced their vision.

Mr Mashile said that R 25 million of the budget was project related, and requested some details.

Mr Tsholetsane replied that R 6 million was for law enforcement, R 14 million for education and R 5 million for road traffic.

The Chairperson observed that not much had happened since RTMC’s last visit on 25 October. The vision was now clear, and the permanent Board was in place. He was somewhat sympathetic to their situation. RTMC was a curious entity. It was a national body which aspired to deal with provincial and local issues. These relations were regulated by the Stake-Holder Committee.

Centralised control over licencing might prove to be a problem, as these were traditionally revenue streams for provincial and local government. The objectives were much improved, but were still very much a wish list. The list was a bit more focussed than it its previous version. The Board also seemed a bit unsure of its position. This was a DoT issue, and he queried why it had taken so long. The DoT would have to be tough with provincial and local authorities.

Mr Cronin continued that there was a possibility of conflict between the Board and the Stake-Holder Committee. The Portfolio Committee would help to resolve this issue. The AAROA had been passed in 1998, but had still not been implemented. The issue of road safety was most significant, and the RTMC’s efforts would make a dent in the figures. The numbers were worse, even if they were still in proportion to the number of cars on the road. The statistics were still disastrous. There had to be a focus on getting the AAROA going. The pilot project would be watched with interest, and would eventually go national. The RTIA was still in the law, but the RTMC would be the implementing agency.

Ms Khunou said there were problems with a number of entities. The Committee should meet with them on a quarterly basis. Targets were needed, and a regulatory system was needed.

The Chairperson said this was a good idea. He agreed that the budget hearings had to be completed. Another meeting should be scheduled with the RTMC which would focus on the pilot project. This should happen within the next three to four months.

Mr Tsholetsane said that the preparatory work was underway, and the project should start in August.

The Chairman noted this, but said that there should still be frequent interaction. His information was that the roll-out should have happened in January. It would be the beginning of beginnings. He was anxious to see it working. It seemed that the DoT was passing the poison chalice of the credit card driver’s licence to the RTMC. The Director General had promised an announcement, but this had not yet been made. There was an agreement in principle that this should happen.

Mr Tsholetsane had heard that this would happen. It was one area in which RTMC could generate some revenue. The Minister should clean up the ghosts of this issue first. The DoT was preparing a new tender with the RTMC’s involvement.

Dr Sampson realised the challenge facing the RTMC. It was not a case of arrogance for them to take over functions previously allocated to other bodies. They were not intending to play a watchdog role, but rather intending to be a helping hand. They intended to have a role of co-operation rather than ruling. The AARTOA points demerit project would be their first. Motorists had a shocking attitude, and the Act might go some way to help. Law enforcement should be close to the scene. It should be seen as a campaign to get people home safely rather than a money-making drive. The Stake-Holder Committee, which included the MECs of all the provinces, would have various responsibilities. It was supposed to have four meetings a year, but this might prove difficult to co-ordinate. It would be addressed with the Minister. It might be necessary to change the Act to give the Stake-Holder Committee fewer responsibilities and rather pass these on to the Board, while perhaps reducing the number of meetings to one per annum.

Committee minutes
The Committee were given minutes of the Committee’s 21 February meeting for acceptance.

Mr Farrow said that there were some errors. There was a requirement that each Member be given a breakdown of the road construction projects but this had not been minuted. Another matter which had not been included in the minutes was the recoveries made from the district disaster fund, especially regarding the Keimans Pass. The Committee needed to know if there were any outstanding claims, and follow up was needed. Some R 20 to R 30 million had been taken out of the budget, and should be recovered from insurers.

The Chairperson undertook to add these two matters as bullet points. The minutes were accepted with the additions raised by Mr Farrow. The meeting was adjourned.

 

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