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PUBLIC SERVICES SELECT COMMITTEE
23 May 2006
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT BUDGET & 2007-10 STRATEGIC PLAN: BRIEFING
Chairperson: Mr R Tau (ANC, Northern Cape)
Documents handed out:
Department of Transport Strategic Plan 2007/08 - 2009/10 Powerpoint Presentation
Filling of Posts within Department of Transport: Powerpoint presentation
The Department of Transport briefed the Committee on its new structure and noted a change of mission to include social development as well as economic growth. Full organograms of the various directorates and programmes were tabled. Focus areas over the next three years included priority delivery, the needs of internal and external stakeholders, building capacity to monitor, development of regulatory systems, meeting of safety & security standards, and establishment of a single economic regulator for the transport sector. Particular areas of emphasis would include the 2010 World Cup, improving quality of and access to transport, transformation of the tax industry and the taxi recapitalisation programme, restructuring passenger rail, Gautrain, integration of road networks and extending the national network and reforming the Road Accident Fund. Subsidies, regulatory systems, the accident rate, law enforcement and safety education programmes would receive attention. The Department gave a detailed presentation on the filling of posts, noting that challenges lay in recruiting scarce skills and skills particular to road transport. The budget allocations since 2003 were set out and discussed. The budget for 2007/08 was R15,8 billion. There had been under spending in the previous year and there was a request for permission to roll over funds to delayed projects.
Questions by Members addressed the relationship with the South African National Civic Organization (SANCO), introduction of subsidies for taxis, rail security, the unfunded posts, the need to build municipal capacity, the implementation of the new legislation, lack of non motorised transport for scholars, whether there was a special credit arrangement for taxi owners, the rail link from Umtata to East London and problems of fraud and corruption. Further questions related to
the scrapping of unroadworthy vehicles, the single transport economic regulator, passenger rail services, the monorail proposal, and progress reports on Shosholoza and the Upington Cargo Airport.
Department of Transport (DOT) Budget and Strategic Plan 2007-2010 Briefing
Ms Mpumi Mpofu, Director-General, DOT, stated that the DOT had a new structure and had changed its mission to include social development as well as economic growth. Full organograms of the various directorates and programmes were tabled. The focus areas over the next three years included priority delivery, with a focus on getting the largest possible numbers of people moved in the shortest possible time, the needs of internal and external stakeholders, transport users & the general public, the need to build capacity to monitor and oversee public entities that reported to the Minister, development of regulatory systems and capacity to ensure operators met safety & security standards, and establishment of a single economic regulator for the transport sector.
The key areas of input were the 2010 Soccer World Cup, improvement of the quality of and access to transport, transformation of the taxi industry through Taxi Recapitalisation programme. restructuring of passenger rail services, the Gautrain Development, implementation of the freight logistics strategy, integration of road networks, and putting the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) into full operation. It was also intended to reform the Road Accident Fund (RAF). There would also be restructuring of public transport subsidies, development of regulatory systems and capacity, attempts to curb road accidents and fatalities through law enforcement, road safety education and communication programmes, implementation of the new road safety strategy, and incorporation of 3 000 km of provincial roads into the national system.
The greatest challenges lay in access, safety, security and consumer choice. The culture of service provision would have to change. The service delivery environment and challenges were set out. Service delivery and regulation through the various regulatory and supervisory bodies was set out and the different focus areas of each body was explained.
Ms Mpofu presented a separate briefing, describing the filling of posts in DOT. She said that the structure of DOT had expanded, described that the structure of DOT had expanded to 7 branches and 619 new posts. The Departmental growth since 1998 was listed, and tables were presented of the funded posts according to level, projected growth, current and projected vacancy rates. The challenges were listed as including the shortage of high skills levels such as project management, contract management and policy analysis, and the lack of specialised transport skills, some of which were being addressed through centres of development and scholarships for study.
The Department had seven programmes. The budget for each was set out and the major projects explained. The budget allocations since 2003 were tabled and it was indicated that the 2007/08 budget was R15,8 billion. The under spending across various programmes for 2006/07 was tabled and explained. In particular Ms Mpofu stated that in 2006/07 the scraping of taxis for safety requirements was delayed. Currently, 3 000 had been scrapped , which had been a significant improvement. The larger provinces were last to come on board, and Gauteng began the process in March of 2007. The Independent Board Regulator was up and running. It was said that there had been significant success in increasing railway safety since the introduction of railway security, especially in the Eastern Cape. The Minister of Transport would address the issue of the Information Technology (IT) system in the future. With the shut down of computers came a worsening of the backlog, but now that the problem had been solved, the new system ran at a 65% percent better rate.
Details of each of the programmes was set out in the lengthy presentation slides (see attached document).
Mr M Mzizi, (IFP, Gauteng) was interested in finding out the relationship between the Department and the South African National Civic Organization (SANCO). Mr Mzizi also wanted to find out why buses received better subsidies than taxis, when there were so few people who used buses as a mode of transport.
Ms Mpofu replied by stating that the relationship between the Department and the Organisation was good, and that any questions about taxi re-capitalisation have been eliminated. In fact SANCO had assisted in finding vehicles that were not road worthy.
Mr K Pillay, Acting Deputy Director-General: Public Transport: DOT, stated that there had been growth in the usage of public transport, which was a factor that showed improvement in the economy. The fact that taxis were not benefiting from subsidies would be investigated in June of this year
Mr Mzizi enquired the situation in regard to rail security in Gauteng Province, since he had seen none, when going past the station. He also asked for further information on unfunded posts. He asked whether there was a remedy to the situation.
Mr Pillay answered that the South African Police were deployed to the rail network and so far, about 700 police had been deployed in the Western Cape, and 250 in Gauteng. He also added that for the current financial year the Department would provide contact points in Gauteng. The intention was to have mobile units of police deployed in all provinces.
Ms Mpofu replied to the question of unfunded posts by stating that the Department was funded incrementally as it grew, and hopefully this problem should be reduced to zero by 2010
Ms M Oliphant (ANC, KZN) wanted to know about the relationship between the National and Provincial Departments as well as local government.
Mr Mathabatha Mokonyama, Acting Deputy Director General: Planning: DOT, stated that inter-governmental relations were not a problem, that it was better if different spheres of Government approached each other.
Ms Oliphant stated that there needed to be capacity building at municipal level. She asked if there was a way of encouraging buses in the rural areas, as rural people tended to use vans because of road infrastructure. She asked if the National Land Transport Transition legislation (NLTTA) had been implemented, and what obstacles were being faced. She also made a comment about training employees when they do not possess driver’s licenses.
Mr D Pretorius, Acting Deputy Director-General: Management Services: DOT, stated that not all Municipalities had problems with capacity
Ms H Matlanyane (ANC, Limpopo) asked about lack of motorised transport in certain areas, commenting that it was difficult for scholars who were expected to travel long distances. She asked if there was anything that could be done to solve the problem
Mr Pillay stated that there were in fact advanced drivers' training courses, where an ordinary driving licence would be required in order to qualify for attendance. He said that there would be a law enforcement strategy worked out between the Department and the South African Police Service (SAPS) to make sure that these rules were followed.
Mr Mokonyama responded that there would be monitoring of the implementation of NRTTA, and the amendments would try to eliminate any challenges. He said that when it came to rural transport there was a draft that would be ready for approval in the next month. He answered Ms Matlanyane’s question by saying that bicycles had been distributed to students who did not use motor transport, and the Department was trying to reach distribution of 100 000 bicycles.
Ms B N Dlulane (ANC, Eastern Cape) wanted clarification on vacancies that were not filled. She stated that she was unhappy that posts would be cut if they remained unfilled after six months.
Ms Mpofu responded that the ‘use it or lose it’ principle was drastic, but it was also not good to remain with unfilled posts. She mentioned various reasons for having to eliminate the post after 6 months, including the fact that the function may not be necessary, there may be no appropriate candidate or the post may be task orientated, and a contract may be preferable to a permanent position.
Ms Dlulane asked if taxi drivers would have a problem insofar as the credit bureau was concerned when buying new taxis.
Mr Pillay replied that there was a new mechanism in place when applications for finance were received, and that taxi drivers in vehicle debt should be cleared. He said that there had been an 80% success rate.
Ms Dlulane also mentioned that the MEC had pronounced that a railway would be opened from East London to Umtata, but this had not materialized, and the MEC had said the budget was part of the Department.
Mr Pretorius said that the problem was not the budget, in fact the railway had been completed. Unfortunately there was no operator for the line.
Rev P Moatshe (ANC, North West) wanted to find out how the Department dealt with fraud and corruption.
Ms Mpofu said that the fraud and corruption unit faced challenges with drivers' licenses, as that was where fraud was most likely to occur. The Department was working on trying to eliminate the possibilities for it.
Rev Moatshe also asked about the scrapping of taxis, and the criteria that were being used.
Ms Mpofu said that unroadworthy and old vehicles were to be scrapped, and that was the criteria that the Department used. If a vehicle was road worthy, then there was no need to take it off the roads.
Rev Moatshe asked about the single transport economic regulator, and wanted to know what Shosholoza was?
Ms Mpofu explained that the Shosholoza rail was a long distance rail in the Transnet stable, but after Metrorail was transferred, all passenger rails would belong under the one umbrella.
Ms H Matlayane asked if the Department foresaw any problems with Gautrain, as the graphs indicated that there would be a decline in 2007/08. She asked if the Director-General had any concrete plans for addressing the state of transport currently. She also wanted to know the details of Monorail.
Ms Mpofu answered that the Department will need to work out a strategy and plan of action when it came to public transport. She also said that the proposal for Monorail would be presented to the Gauteng Province.
Mr Pillay responded that in relation to Gautrain, both the Department of Transport and the National Treasury contributed. The funding was only forthcoming when there was a work programme of the construction phase, and it was based on deliverables and milestones achieved.
The Chairperson stated that there was a problem in the public transport system, especially the Shosholoza rail. He asked if the Director General could see to this problem.
Ms Mpofu replied that Transnet has defined Shosholoza as a freight rail system, but the Department wanted to change it to passenger, and through this, it would be able to attract investment programmes.
The Chairperson was concerned also with poor road infrastructure.
The Chairperson requested a progress report on Upington Cargo Airport, and wanted to know who the targeted beneficiaries are.
Ms Mpofu said that a formal proposal would be considered when it came to Upington Cargo, and there would need to be further consultation with the Department. She went on to say that the reason there was a cargo airport was to avoid duplication, and that not every province could have one.
The Chairperson enquired about the 2010 World Cup planning, and what was to happen afterwards
Ms Mpofu stated that there was a close alignment between 2010 and transport, and that programmes were running concurrently and would be absorbed into the Transport Department after 2010.
Ms Oliphant (ANC) wanted to know about the management of road agencies, and how the Department monitored these, especially in regard to funds. She also stated that there was a commitment by the Minister in regard to a workshop on transport that was chartered for business people.
Ms Mpofu said she would remind the Minister of his promise. She also talked about the issue of viability that was raised by a Member of the Select Committee, that had been raised by Spoornet. The Committee should feel free to come back with any further questions.
The meeting was adjourned.
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