The Members concluded their deliberations on the Cross-Border Road Transport Amendment Bill. The amendments empowering the Cross-Border Road Transport Agency to collect tolls and raise levies on behalf of the South African National Road Agency Limited were rejected and the issue of the setting down of passengers within one kilometre of the border was omitted from the Bill. The Bill was adopted by the Committee, with amendments.
The Chief Executive Officer of the South African Rail Commuter Corporation presented the SARCC’s strategic plan and budget for 2008/09. An overview of operations included the integration of Shosholoza Meyl, scheduled for completion by April 2008. The key highlights for 2007/08 included the refurbishment of rolling stock, an increase in passenger trips and fare revenue, the deployment of railway police personnel and a decrease in security incidents. New services launched included the Khayelitsha Express, Soweto Business Express and the Kei Rail Service. Progress on the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup projects, the Moloto Rail Corridor, the rail link between Cape Town International Airport and the Cape Town city centre, the Bridge City development in KwaZulu Natal, the Intersite development of facilities for the South African Police Service (SAPS) at stations, the upgrading of rail stations and the construction of a bus terminus in Tshwane were reported on.
The challenges faced by commuter rail services were outlined, with particular emphasis on the current infrastructure backlog of R25 billion, aging and unreliable rolling stock and the major operational risks generated by overcrowding. A three-phase strategic approach was taken and the initial stabilisation phase was expected to be completed by 2010. Details of the grants, revenues and appropriations for the 2007/08 to 2010/11 Medium Term Expenditure Framework were provided. For the period 2008/09, total income of R7.7 billion, operational expenditure of R5.1 billion and capital expenditure of R2.3 billion was projected. The need for re-capitalisation of the commuter rail transport system within the next three years was considered to be a critical factor.
Members welcomed the integrated commuter plans that included provision for bus services in addition to rail services. Questions were asked about rural development plans, the feasibility of the Kei Rail Service and the
The Cross-Border Road Transport Amendment Bill [B51-2007] was discussed during previous meetings held by the Committee. After the meeting held on 4 March 2008, the Office of the State Law Adviser (SLA) circulated the latest proposed amendments to the Members of the Committee.
Clause 3 empowered the Cross-Border Road Transport Agency (CBRTA) to collect levies and tolls on behalf of the South African National Road Agency Limited (SANRAL) and was rejected by the Committee. The Long Title of the Bill was amended accordingly.
Clause 7(e) was amended by omitting the word “efficiently” and inserting the word “safely”.
The Committee found that the issue of putting down passengers within one kilometre of the border was a grey area and that such a provision would be unmanageable if it was treated as a cross-border issue. Clause 16(d) was therefore omitted and Clauses 24 and 25 were rejected.
In addition, the National Land Transport Transition Act (“the NLTT Act”) required amendment by the addition of a new clause 23, deletion of subsection 2 of Section 46, the addition of a new Section 24 and the deletion of paragraph (p) under subsection 1 of Section 127. Amendments to the NLTT Act would be addressed by the Committee at a later stage.
A technical correction was made to change the year of the Act from 2007 to 2008.
Mr L Mashile (ANC) asked whether all the cross-referenced clauses were amended as well.
The Chairperson replied that he had the assurance of the
Mr S Farrow (DA) referred to the request to increase the period from 28 days to 30 days that was made in the submissions but could not find such a period in the text of the Bill.
The Chairperson replied that the period was probably specified in the NLTT Act and not in the Bill.
The Chairperson confirmed that the Committee agreed to the amendments to the Bill and read the motion of desirability. The motion was proposed by Ms Khunou and seconded by Mr Mashile.
The Bill was adopted by the Committee, with amendments.
Briefing by the South African Rail Commuter Corporation Ltd (SARCC)
Mr Lucky Montana (Chief Executive Officer, SARCC) introduced the delegates and presented the corporation’s strategic plan and budget for the 2008/09 period (see attached document).
The SARCC controlled 15% of the total rail network in the country, divided into five predominantly urban regions. The average passenger trips per week day were 2.2 million. 66% of the available coaches and train sets were operational. The book value of the assets held totaled R8 billion.
Metrorail was merged with the SARCC in May 2006 and the merger with Shosholoza Meyl was expected to be completed by April 2008. The establishment of an integrated national passenger transport company was under discussion with the Department of Transport (DOT).
A summary of the key highlights for 2007/08 was presented. 415 coaches were refurbished, the number of passenger trips was 12.4% above target, the amount of fare revenue was 7.6% above target and the average punctuality performance was 86.2%. The Khayelitsha Express and Soweto Business Express were successfully launched. Customer satisfaction was rated at 70%. The number of security incidents was 33% below target, 1814 railway policemen were deployed and 28000 arrests were made. 83% of the value of contracts was awarded to BEE compliant companies. 85% of the capital expenditure budget was spent, of which 93% was spent on rolling stock. The 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup projects were on target. The Moloto Rail Corridor between Tshwane and Siyabuswa was approved by Cabinet, the Kei Rail Service in the
The strategic approach was divided into a stabilisation phase (2007-2010), a recovery phase (2011-2014) and a growth phase (2015-2030). The Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and details of the grants, revenue and appropriations for the period 2007/08 to 2010/11 were outlined. Budgetary ratios for 2007/08 and 2008/09 were included. The integration of Shosholoza Meyl had a funding requirement of R1 billion, of which only R500 million was approved by Government. Shosholoza Meyl operated at a loss of R300 million per annum. Transnet however offered assistance by transferring an additional R200 million for the refurbishment of rolling stock, 127 locomotives and drivers to the SARCC.
Mr Montana presented the key strategic initiatives for 2008/09, including those for Shosholoza Meyl, improvements to the Priority A Corridors, an accelerated rolling stock program, the Gauteng nerve centre, a preventative maintenance program, the enhancement of operational safety, the 2010 projects, the skills development initiatives and the strategies for optimising asset value. He concluded the presentation with an outline of the critical success factors required, with particular emphasis on the re-capitalisation requirements.
Ms N Khunou (ANC) expressed concern that legislation passed by the Committee was not being implemented. An integrated transport plan where trains and busses were linked was welcomed. She noted that activity appeared to be concentrated on certain provinces while other provinces such as the
Mr S Mshudulu (ANC) remarked that skills development was one of the key performance indicators of a CEO. He wanted to know how information about skills development could be obtained. He said that the issue of spatial development was raised before and wanted to know which areas were targeted for development. He mentioned that Members had a responsibility to monitor the application of resources and would like to know the challenges faced by the SARCC.
Mr S Farrow (DA) asked how the integrated passenger transport company would interact with the bus services offered by municipalities and metro’s. He calculated that approximately 10% of coaches were refurbished per annum and that it would take ten years to refurbish all the coaches. He asked what the lifespan of a refurbished coach was, assuming that normal maintenance took place. He referred to the Tshwane/Bushbuckridge extension and the SADAC agreement on using a wider gauge. He asked how the wider gauge would fit into the existing system and how the change from one gauge to another would be handled. He was concerned that the Kei Rail Service would become a white elephant - the bus and rail trip took 12 hours but the same journey was only three hours by taxi. He understood that Spoornet was reluctant to grant further concessions in the use of the railway lines and asked what was being done to improve the timeframes and do away with the bus service. He remarked that there was a lack of directions at
The Chairperson asked why customers would prefer to take the slow train rather than the fast taxi. Even if the train was safer and cheaper, it was necessary to find accommodation at either end. He pointed out that there were both advantages and disadvantages to rail travel but that people in rural areas were in desperate need of public transport. He was concerned over the long term sustainability of the Kei service and questioned whether the right decision was taken at the time. He said that a bus service would have to be subsidised in any event.
Mr Farrow pointed out that the rail service was only between Amabele and
The Chairperson asked for clarity on the KwaNdebele / Moloto Corridor and the Vaal Triangle issues.
The Chairperson explained that the issue of the wider gauge was raised during an oversight meeting in Tshwane. The concern was that the Moloto Rail Corridor ended to the north of
The Chairperson was pleased that consultation was taking place with all the stakeholders.
Mr Mashile asked about the nature of the interest of the Provincial Administration in the Moloto Rail Corridor. He wanted to know if funds were made available or if interest was limited to consultation. He asked if the current taxi operators were involved in the process and whether provision was made for taxi ranks at the stations.
Ms B Thomson (ANC) asked why the decision on the consolidation of passenger entities that was taken by Cabinet in 2004 was only now being implemented. She asked how the SARCC measured its performance in addressing the skills shortage and overcoming the challenges listed in the presentation.
Mr M Moss (ANC) was concerned by the absence of a long term plan in the presentation and asked what was being planned for the next twenty years. He wanted to know if the taxi rank was included in the upgrading of the
Mr O Mogale (ANC) asked if the feasibility study for the link between
Mr Mogale noted that the same figure of 28000 arrests was quoted in the previous report by the SARCC. He asked for a breakdown of the type of crimes committed and whether the deployment of the 1814 railway policemen resulted in a reduction of the level of crime. He understood that funds were made available for the introduction of closed-circuit television cameras to assist in identifying culprits and asked what progress was made in this regard.
Mr Mogale wanted to know what the status was of the cases where managers were suspended following train delays. He asked what role was played by the Transport SETA in the development of skills.
Ms M Nxumalo (ANC) was concerned by the health hazard posed by the rats on Cape Town Station. She asked why prima class was only available between
Mr Mashile asked what progress was made in providing commuter rail services for the Nelspruit area. He wanted to know what sleeping arrangements were made for drivers on long distance train services.
Ms N Nkabinde (UDM) asked if the deployment of railway policemen had a significant effect on the percentage of fare evasion experienced. She wanted to know what plans were in place to deal with the significant increases in numbers expected during the 2010 FIFA World Cup when overcrowding and the risk of stampede were already of major concern.
The Chairperson remarked that it was gratifying that SARCC was thinking along the lines of providing passenger services and was not limiting itself to providing rail services only. He asked Mr
Mr Farrow pointed out that the percentages of funds allocated to refurbishment and to the purchase of new rolling stock needed to be in balance. It was clear that at some point in the near future it was necessary to allocate funds for the major buy-in of rolling stock.
The Chairperson agreed that the key message to National Treasury was that the allocation to commuter rail services was sufficient for it to remain stable but insufficient for it to make progress. The vision was there but the long term financial commitment was uncertain.
The Chairperson remarked that there were discussions underway to apply some of the funds held by the SETA’s directly to the technical colleges. He gained the impression that TETA was not effective in delivering the skills required.
Replying to Mr Mashile’s question, Mr
In response to Ms Thomson’s question, Mr
The Chairperson remarked that the Committee expected the legislation with regard to Shosholoza Meyl in the near future. He noted that SARCC dealt with the challenges foisted on it in a relatively short period of time. He asked if the expected numbers of passengers justified the development of the 4 km rail link between
Replying to Ms Nxumalo’s question, Mr
In response to the Chairperson’s question, Mr
The Chairperson commended Mr
The meeting was adjourned.
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