National Land Transport Bill [B51-2008]: Public Hearings

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30 July 2008
Chairperson: Mr J P Cronin (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee continued to receive public submissions on the National Land Transport Bill (B51 – 2008. These were made by the South African Cities Network (SACN), the University of Cape Town (UCT) and the Chamber of Mines (CoM).

The SACN was broadly supportive of the Bill, but areas of concern included the need for clarity of accountability, allowance for cross-municipality co-operation and a definite reliable funding model.
It stressed that poor access and mobility would mean that cities became fragmented and the need for integration with the city’s built environment would not be met. Suggestions were also made in relation to the designations of transport authorities, suggesting that this be used to denote municipalities given designated planning authority, and that cross municipality cooperation be allowed. In expanding upon the funding, it was noted that this Bill had limited scope for clear accountability to be set up, not being a money bill, but that other processes outside the Bill could be put in place, such as the concept of the Municipal Public Transport Fund. Members asked how this proposal differed from what was already in the Bill, discussed the possible procedures, and dealt with the concept of guaranteed or predictable funding.

The UCT submission focused on the devolution of transport functions and regulation to a local level, which should be done as soon as possible to achieve a more rational transport framework. It suggested that Provincial authorities should focus on rural areas. Members noted that the presentation was clear, and urged UCT to make input into the process considering the future of provinces and reconfiguration of the national sphere. The question was raised whether a focus on building municipal capacity would not rather be preferable, why assessments should be done by an independent body, questioned the problems in the Western Cape, and asked whether capacity could be built.

The Chamber of Mines concentrated in its submission on the importance of transport in the moving of raw materials to processing plants. It was suggested that on clauses 8(1) and 9(1) further public input was needed. It was suggested that clause 15 should provide for compulsory establishment of advisory boards. It suggested that the Regulator’s composition include private sector members. Clause 24(3) was of concern, as it seemed to contradict clause 12(1). It also called for publication of draft regulations before they were made final, and it was suggested that this provision should possibly also pertain for the National Road Service Act. Members asked that a separate submission be made at a later stage on personnel transport use, and asked for clarity how mine workers were currently getting to and from work.

Meeting report

National Land Transport Bill (NLTB or the Bill): Public Hearings
Submission by South African Cities Network (SACN)

Mr Sithole M Mbanga, CEO, South African Cities Network, focused on the history of the SACN, stating that it was composed of the six major metropolitan authorities, and was set up to promote good governance and management, and analyse the needs of major metropolitan areas, by submitting reports, the content and scope of which was briefly outlined. The SACN was broadly supportive of the Bill. However, it disagreed with attempts to revise the Bill in a manner which re-introduced confusion around responsibilities. Poor access and mobility would mean that cities became fragmented and the need for integration with the city’s built environment was therefore stressed.

The SACN was concerned that until now, there had been little clarity of accountability. There should be allowance for cross-municipality co-operation; only where transport was primarily inter-municipal should the provinces become involved. There was also a need for a definite reliable funding model, as the cost structure depended on many different factors.

Mr Philip Van Ryneveld, Consultant to SACN, felt that it would be simpler if the term Transport Authority (TA) was used to denote those municipalities given Designated Planning Authority (DPA) status, linking up to setting criteria for the allowance of category B municipalities to be DPAs. He also suggested that the Bill make allowance for cross-municipality co-operation in order to form joint municipal entities.

Mr N Dingle, Legal Consultant, Department of Transport (DoT), stated that according to the Systems Act, the implication was that a municipal entity could not have councillors on the board.

Mr Van Ryneveld stated that cross boundary scenarios were not an issue and stated that he could provide suggestions on how to formulate them. He pointed out that in fact cross boundary transport scenarios constituted only a negligible figure. Mr Van Ryneveld reiterated that municipalities meeting certain criteria automatically become DPAs, while others could apply. He offered to make a more detailed input if the Committee so wished.

The Chairperson stated that essentially there were two key points: the usage of the term Transport Authority to denote a DPA and amending definitions to refer to criteria instead of specific cities.

Mr Mbanga concurred.

In terms of funding arrangements, Mr Van Ryneveld stated that SACN wanted clear accountability for funding streams. He added that the scope for this in the National Land Transport Bill (NLTB) was limited, as otherwise it would become a “money bill”. Therefore processes should be put in place in parliament, extraneous to the NLTB, to deal with these concerns. He added that there was merit in the concept of a Municipal Public Transport Fund (MPTF) and that the bill made reference to a National Land Transport Fund (NLTF). However he felt that National Treasury (NT) might not immediately warm to the concept of a NLTF, in which case at least a MPTF should be retained.

The Chairperson asked how the proposal on the funding was different from what was proposed under Clause 35.

Mr Van Ryneveld replied that it was framed in terms of regulations on how to use funding.

The Chairperson replied that essentially both parties were in agreement on the need for reference to regulations.

Mr O Mogale (ANC) asked for clarity on the reference to “money bills” on slide six of the presentation.

Mr Van Ryneveld replied that a “money bill” was one that appropriated taxes, and he indicated that passing a “money bill” was a more difficult task as The Minister of Finance would resist allocating taxation power to another department.

Mr Mbanga added that if there was a need for funding, then this should be done in the proper way and not try to create a backdoor through the NLTB to get access to funds. If need be, another Bill should be passed on the funding, as the focus of this Bill was on transport.

Mr M Mashile (ANC) asked for clarity on the MPTF and the NLTF concepts.

Mr J Patel, Chief Director :Integrated Transport Planning, DoT, replied that the way DoT saw the position was that National, Provincial and Municipal funds were constituents of a broad national fund, which could be appropriated down the spheres of government.

Mr Dingle added that a municipal could not draw from the national fund, but that it could be cascaded down. An MLTF would only cover the six metros.

The Chairperson added that the DoT appeared to have similar feelings to those of Mr Van Ryneveld.

Mr Van Ryneveld stated that the issue for SACN was not so much in relation to national funding. It rather focused on the metros being able to receive and rely on a steady, predictable funding stream. He added that a fuel levy was mentioned in the Bill and that this was a good idea, but he feared that the Bill would never be legislated if this was included as a point of substance.

The Chairperson replied that he acknowledged the problem of funding. He stated that guaranteed funding was indeed the prime mover behind projects and he would be happy to include words like “predictable”. He asked if there was more that the Committee could do.  

Mr Mbanga thanked the Committee and Department for their sympathy. He added that the SACN would carry on meeting with those under it and would be available at any time to interface with the Committee and the DoT.

The Chairperson noted that the Committee needed to be finished with the Bill by 15 August and noted that it would be useful to consult further with SACN, even if this was done on an informal basis.

Submission by the University of Cape Town (UCT), Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment: Centre for Transport Studies
Prof Peter Wilkinson, Associate Professor: School of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics, UCT) stated that his oral presentation would simply reiterate what was contained in the written submission.  UCT regarded the Bill as a significant step forward, especially with regard to the devolution of transport functions and regulation to a local level. He felt that this needed to be done as soon as possible in order to achieve a more rational transport framework. Provincial authorities should be focused on rural areas that lacked the municipal infrastructure to manage transport effectively. Prof Wilkinson added that if the Committee wished he would be happy to consult with them further.

The Chairperson summarised Prof Wilkinson’s position as being focused on the devolution of powers and the integration of public transport services. He added that this seemed to have been covered with sufficient clarity, and asked if there were any specifics.

Prof Wilkinson replied that he had not gone into specifics around the clauses of the Bill and supported the major thrust of the bill.

The Chairperson stated that government was looking at the future of provinces and the reconfiguration of the national sphere. He urged that UCT make an input into the process and felt that the Committee should do the same.

Dr M Sefularo (ANC) stated that page two, paragraph three of the UCT written document should rather focus on building rural municipal capacity than outsourcing functions to provincial level.

Prof Wilkinson replied that this would be highly desirable, but would require a great deal of effort and input. He added that the first round of transport planning in the Western Cape did not use district municipality input, solely because such municipalities did not have the capacity to do this.

Mr Mashile asked what informed the opinion that systematic assessments of municipalities should be done by a body outside provincial and local spheres.

Prof Wilkinson replied that a lack of clarity over responsibility had led to a “turf war” over authority between local and provincial government. For this reason it was suggested that a national entity such as the DoT should determine exact mandates.

Mr Mashile asked if this was a consequence of the Western Cape situation, or if it applied to the rest of the country.

Prof Wilkinson replied that it was particularly acute in the Western Cape, but that it applied to the rest of the country as well.

The Chairperson asked if current problems in the Western Cape were political or systemic.

Mr Van Ryneveld replied that they were systemic and that although they appeared to be political in the Western Cape due to the press coverage, he noted that the same problems even occurred when the same party was in charge of both spheres of government, but that they would be played out behind the scenes. The problems mainly lay in a lack of clear responsibility.

The Chairperson stated that the challenge was that a number of cities were poised to move and that the Committee wanted to facilitate this. However there was an issue with other municipalities without capacity. He asked the DoT whether they would be the responsibility of provincial government or if their capacity could be built.

Mr Patel referred the Chairperson to Clause 9, amending section 31.

Mr Dingle noted that SACN had suggested criteria for the allowance of other municipalities as DPAs, besides the automatically defined metros, but that this was not how it stood in the current bill.

The Chairperson stated that this did not help with small municipalities.

Mr Dingle replied that as it stood, it seemed that provinces took over in this case.

Mr Mashile stated that clause 9 referred to operating licences.

Mr Patel replied that the concept embodied in that clause applied to planning, regulations and other functions.

The Chairperson noted that as an area to be re-examined by the Committee.

Submission by the Chamber of Mines (CoM) of South Africa
Mr Des Kruger, Assistant Advisor: Techno-economics, Chamber of Mines, outlined the importance of transport to the mining industry in relation to the moving of raw materials to processing plants. He noted that transport for the mining industry comprised both a private sector and government dynamic, with government providing the transport infrastructure. With reference to clause 8(1) and clause 9(1) he felt that the Minister and MEC should also call for public input.  With reference to clause 15(1), it was recommended that DPAs be compelled to establish advisory boards. With reference to clause 24, it was recommended that the composition of the National Land Transport Regulator be reconsidered to allow private sector members. With reference to clause 24(3), it was criticised as being apparently in contradiction to clause 12(1).

The Chairperson summarised Mr Kruger’s position as being that draft regulations should be published for comment before being passed as regulations.

Mr Patel stated that one of the problems was that if the Department had to identify stakeholders then this would cause delay.

The Chairperson replied that there was no need to identify stakeholders, but the draft regulations could simply be published for comment and that it would be up to the stakeholders to take the initiative and submit comments on them.

Mr Dingle suggested that this process also be added to the National Road Service Act.

The Chairperson agreed that this seemed sensible.

Dr Sefularo asked who took care of worker transport.

Mr Kruger replied that the workers were generally reliant on public transport now that hostels were being phased out.

The Chairperson noted that his specific submissions seemed to only be concerned with ore.

Mr Kruger agreed that he had concentrated on this point.

Dr Sefularo agreed that Mr Kruger seemed silent on the human dynamic and focused solely on ore.

Mr Patel asked if the mines provided staff transport services.

Mr Kruger replied that in some cases they did.

The Chairperson noted that with reference to Clause 15(1), the CoM wanted the recommendation on advisory boards to become compulsory.

He requested that the Chamber of Mines should revert to the Committee to review the personnel transport plans in the mines at a later stage.

Mr Mbanga stated that in terms of regulating bodies, maybe a redraft of the SACN submission was in order, clarifying its functions.

The Chairperson consented.

The meeting was adjourned.


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