The RTMC was upbeat about its plans going forward and about its achievements over the past year such as the clean audit report. Five of its ten functions had already been transferred to the RTMC since its establishment in 2005. Although five more functional areas were still to be transferred, the RTMC already had a vested interest in the current operation of these functions. The National Training Framework (NTF) that was recently completed entailed capacitating and career pathing of traffic officers to ensure that they were empowered when they took to the road. The Minister of Transport in his upcoming budget speech would announce the launch of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) pilot project in June while a national roll-out would be implemented in 2009. Critical to this was the demerit system aimed at fostering law compliance to ensure road safety. Processes were afoot to move the eNatis programme from the Transport Department to RTMC. The 2009/10 budget was based on the assumption that the AARTO program would be fully functional and running.
Various questions were posed about the Road Traffic Offence Survey for 2007 which was a key reflection of the impact of law enforcement, the AARTO pilot project, communication and education programmes, driver licence tests and accreditation of driving schools.
Dr J Sampson, Chairperson of the RTMC Board and Mr R Rakgoale, Chief Executive Officer of the RTMC presented the 2008-2011 Strategic and Budget Plans (see document).
Dr Sampson began by indicating that the RTMC staff was composed of 90% South Africans and 66% of the staff was female. An important achievement of the RTMC was the clean audit report in the last financial year.
Mr Rakgoale made the following additional remarks to the presentation:
▪ The achievements of the RTMC include ploughing back revenue generated to improve traffic regulation.
▪ All owners of motor vehicles now receive notices prior to the expiry of the vehicle licences. He added that this was indication of the overall improvement in service delivery by the RTMC.
▪ Law enforcement was coordinated through a plan that was continually monitored and assessed.
▪ The Road Traffic Offence Survey indicated and outlined in the presentation was of the entire country. Contrary to general perceptions, the statistics from the survey indicate that the number of taxis that exceed the speed limit is not as high as previously believed and has dropped. Nonetheless, more needs to be done to reduce the figures.
▪ The surveys are very important to the RTMC, particularly in sharpening its strategic plans.
▪ These functions had been already transferred to the RTMC: Training of Traffic Personnel; Road Traffic Information; Accident Investigation and Recording; Road Traffic Communication and Education; Infrastructure Safety Audits and Traffic Engineering. A further five functional areas still to be transferred, but the RTMC nonetheless already had vested interest in the current operation of these functions:
- Road Traffic Law Enforcement
- Vehicle Registration and Licencing
- Vehicle and Roadworthiness Testing
- Testing and Licencing of Drivers
- Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO)
▪ Mr Rakgoale referred to Objective 2 of Traffic Law Enforcement Coordination and commented that the Objective entailed consolidating all provincial business plans into one. The process was already 85% complete and the entire process would be completed by end of May 2008. The business plans were used in the stakeholder meetings held on a quarterly basis. Objective 6 would be completed by the end of 2008 as opposed to end of March 2010.
▪ Mr Rakgoale referred to Objective 1 for Training of Personnel (slide 24). He commented that the completed National Training Framework (NTF) entailed capacitating and career pathing of traffic officers to ensure that they were empowered when they take to the road. The framework and training was therefore not limited to traffic issues but was broad.
▪ The broad objective of Road Traffic Information was to improve data capturing so as to have an accurate and real-time system.
▪ Crash Investigation and Recording (slide 34) had the broad objective that the RTMC gave feedback on the actions it took based on crash accident reports.
▪ The communication and education programmes were done in conjunction with the Department of Education (DoE). The broad objective is to invest in the future of the system by educating the youth on the system and their responsible driving behaviour.
▪ The broad objective of the Infrastructure Safety Audits and Traffic Engineering was to identify hazardous sites on the roads and rectify those.
▪ The Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) point demerit system was to be piloted. The plans were in place for the launch of the pilot project in June 2008.
▪ Slides 50 to 97 dealing with Corporate Support were basically cross-cutting internal issues.
Mr Rakgoale made the following additional remarks on RTMC Medium Term Expenditure Framework (METF) 2008-2009 to 2010-2011 Income and Expenditure Estimates.
▪ The 2009/10 revenue and expenditure estimate is based on the assumption that the AARTO program will be fully functional and running.
▪ Slide 101, 102, 103 and 105 showed the detailed expenditure outlines of projects.
The Chairperson asked what was meant by an “independent survey”.
Mr Rakgoale replied that the survey was conducted by an independent company contracted by the RTMC.
Mr S Farrow (DA) asked when the survey was conducted. During the festive season or not?
Mr Rakgoale replied that it was conducted in August, although it was on the entire year.
Mr Farrow asked whether the statistics per province reflected internal traffic in the province or included transit traffic as well.
Mr Rakgoale replied that the statistics for the provinces included both internal and transit traffic. He added that the statistics where a key reflection of the impact of law enforcement.
The Chairperson commended the RTMC for its achievements and commented that the Committee was impressed by the progress that the RTMC was making.
The Chairperson requested the 2006/07 fatality figures.
Ms N Khunou (ANC) referred to the fatal road crash results in slide 10 of the presentation. She asked why only 56 745 drivers were screened for alcohol in Kwazulu Natal whereas 147 214 vehicles were stopped.
Mr Rakgoale replied that only 56 745 drivers out of the 147 214 vehicles stopped were screened as it was not feasible to screen every single driver they stopped.
Mr Farrow asked if static offences were included in the statistics of the vehicles stopped.
Mr M Moss (ANC) asked the criteria used in stopping vehicles
Mr Rakgoale replied that several issues were considered when stopping vehicles. During the night the criteria included the manner in which the vehicle was being driven and during the day it included the road worthiness of the vehicle. Overall the criteria included a combination of factors.
A RTMC delegation member noted that the fatality figures for 2005 where 15, 400 and they had dropped to 14, 700 in 2007. Mr Rakgoale added that the yearly fatality figures had dropped by 5%.
Mr Farrow asked whether the objectives were for functions already transferred or still to be transferred.
Mr Rakgoale replied that the plans and objectives were for both transferred functions and those still to be transferred. He added that it was necessary to plan for all the functions as the transfer process would take place during the year.
Dr Sampson commented that some of the functions indicated as still to be transferred had already been transferred to the RTMC in terms of operations. It was the administration of the functions that was still to be transferred.
Mr Rakgoale commented that the strategic plan indicated the readiness of RTMC and its stakeholders to ensure that by 2010 there would be a safe transport system.
Mr Farrow referred to the Summary of Income (slide 97) and asked for clarification on the massive increase in predicted revenue between the 2008/09 and the 2009/10 financial year.
Mr Rakgoale replied that the 2008/09 prediction only included the ARRTO pilot project. In 2009/10 the full AARTO project would have commenced and would involve a national roll out and thus the massive increase.
The Chairperson asked where the generated revenue would go. The increase in administration expenses was understandable and would obviously account for some of the increased budget.
Mr Rakgoale replied that the revenue would be generated through the various authorities but would firstly go to RTMC after which it would rolled back to the same authorities which include the provinces and municipalities. The current collection rate of fines was 2% and the RTMC through AARTO aimed to assist authorities to increase that rate. The compensation of employees naturally increased every year due to inflation. Revenue and expenses were predicted to decrease 2010/11 as it was presumed that compliance would have increased consequently leading to a reduction in both revenue and expenses. The budget outlined was not about generating profit but about increasing and ensuring compliance.
Dr Sampson commented that the MTEF budget took into account the staff expenses necessary to see through the collection of fines which would be rolled back to the authorities.
Mr Rakgaole commented that there was also a provision in place that allowed the decrease in the fine if paid within the required 28 or 30 days. This was to encourage compliance. To further increase compliance AARTO would commence if the individuals fail to pay the fines within the stipulated time frame. The levies charged through AARTO would take into account staff and transaction costs.
Ms Khunou commended the RTMC on their achievements and commented that the presentation and report were impressive and comprehensive.
Ms Khunou commented that during the festive season drivers geared themselves for road blocks and enhanced enforcement measures. The drivers would however revert back to irresponsible behaviour after the festive season which consequently saw an increase in the accident rate. It was therefore important to maintain the same level of enforcement throughout the year. Monitoring of traffic during the night was minimal and needed to be enhanced.
Mr Rakgaole replied that the main issue was not necessarily having more officers on the road during the festive season but ensuring that they do their work effectively. This was the role and focus of the RTMC. The monitoring of traffic during the night was a management issue and was being addressed with all the relevant authorities.
Ms Khunou requested more information on the Infrastructure Safety Audits and Traffic Engineering function that had been transferred to RTMC.
Mr Rakgaole replied that this referred to the conditions of the roads, the road signs, markings and so forth. The audits aimed to ensure the roads were in good condition to prevent accidents from occurring. The engineering component also had the same function and addressed the issues identified in the audits.
Dr Sampson commented that there were three E’s essential for the prevention of road accidents namely Education, Enforcement and Engineering. The South African Road Safety manual was part of preventative education and was currently being revised and updated.
Ms M Xumalo (ANC) referred to the RTMC on its implementation of Communication and Education programmes and campaigns. She added that it was crucial to focus on educating the youth about responsible driving and traffic use. There was a similar education programme in the 1980s which was excellent. It was necessary to reintroduce a similar program.
Mr Rakgaole replied that the current communication and education program was outcomes-based and built on the 1980s school education program. The National Training Framework that was recently developed was also part of the same intervention and focused on ensuring that all driving schools taught drivers the essential skills necessary for responsible driving and prevention of road accidents.
Dr Sampson commented that 50% of all road accidents involved pedestrians and thus education programmes needed to focus on everyone and not just the drivers.
In reply to a committee member asking about the levies for transaction fees, Mr Rakgaole said that the transaction fees for 2008/09 were R318 408 and the rest were projections. He added that slide 105 outlined the projects related to the levies. Dr Sampson added that the transaction fees were used for related costs and could not be used for other purposes.
Ms Khunou asked if the RTMC had the necessary capacity to implement the plans in the strategic plan.
Mr Rakgaole replied that the RTMC should not be viewed as stand alone organisation but as part of the provincial and municipal authorities. The RTMC also had the function to cover the gaps in capacity amongst the traffic regulation authorities.
Mr M Moss (ANC) referred to the Road Crash data and commented that the information provided was only for accident fatalities but not for serious injuries incurred in accidents. It was also important to research and provide information on people who got seriously injured in accidents and the support they were receiving.
Mr Rakgaole agreed with Mr Moss’s assertion that the Road Crash data had not given enough attention to people who incurred serious injuries in traffic accidents and their impact on the Road Accident Fund (RAF). Nonetheless the Road Crash data aimed to provide the RAF with the impact of road accident injuries.
Mr Farrow commended the RTMC for its focus on ensuring the accreditation of traffic officers. However it was necessary to go further and assess the staff needed to ensure sufficient enforcement capacity both during and after the festive season.
Mr Farrow commented that there was currently a 39% failure rate for the driver licence test. He asked if there where awareness campaigns being conducted on the requirements for passing the driver’s licence test.
The response was that RTMC was currently working on a project on accreditation of driving schools when they registered. Currently this was the responsibility of the MECs, although there were gaps in the legislation. This was being addressed by the RTMC through the accreditation project.
An RTMC delegation member commented that the RTMC was also reassessing the requirements for registering as a driving school and so far 40 hours of driving lessons had been pegged as a requirement before individuals under took the driver licence test.
Mr Farrow commented that there where reports that the vehicle testing authorities where corrupt and dysfunctional. He added that 10% of all road accidents in
Mr Rakgaole replied that central to the issue of roadworthiness and corruption was monitoring the effectiveness of the systems to oversee these issues. .
Ms Khunou asked how the requirements placed on the driving would be monitored and enforced
Mr Rakgaole replied that a central function of the RTMC was monitoring and evaluation of requirements and legislation. This was partly done through the RTMCs research component indicated in the presentation. He added that an electronic vehicle identification system was being considered for the monitoring function and feasibility studies of the system where being considered. The electronic vehicle identification system and Project E-force would be presented to the Committee in a separate meeting.
Mr Farrow asked whether the road law traffic inspectorate was a small group of officers who complement the RTMC or whether it was a separate independent authority.
A RTMC delegation member replied that the inspectorate was established through and regulated by the law traffic enforcement code. The staff for the inspectorate came from the RTMC and where responsible for monitoring and ensuring compliance of the code.
The Chairperson referred to the key objectives which mirrored the Act and stated that the RTMC was to work with stakeholders to achieve its goals. The wording appeared to limit the RTMC to the Department of Education. He suggested that there where opportunities to work with private education entities that should not be missed.
The Chairperson asked whether the RTMC was happy with the way the magistrates courts where handling traffic offences in terms of uniformity of decisions. He added that the issue had previously been brought up by the RAF and the Minister of Transport and asked if any progress had been made in addressing the issue.
Mr Rakgaole replied that the RTMC was definitely not happy with the way the judiciary system was handling traffic offences and violations. The judiciary, though being independent body, needed to take cognizance of the general trends in South African environment. He added that the issue was being resolved in conjunction with the Department of Justice Director-General and other relevant stakeholders
Dr Sampson said that there was a crucial need to standardise the fines given for traffic offences and the way they were handed out to the offenders.
The Chairperson commented that the funding of the South African Transport System had improved thanks to the 2010 World Cup. However related to this was the necessity to introduce new measures to take into consideration the changes in the transport environment such as the increase in the levels of traffic. There was thus a need to consider moving beyond focusing merely on traffic offences and violations. Such issues included safety of the transport system for the 2010 World Cup.
The meeting was adjourned.
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