National Railway Safety Regulator Amendment Bill; Road Traffic Amendment Bill: negotiating mandates

NCOP Public Services

14 October 2008
Chairperson: Mr R Tau (ANC, Northern Cape)
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Meeting Summary

All nine provinces provided negotiating mandates which supported the National Railway Safety Regulator Amendment Bill. Bill; however there were some issues that some of the provinces raised. These issues included security at railway stations, financial implications of the Bill, broadening the Bill so that the Railway Safety Regulator could disclose instances where operators paid little or no attention to safety and the transportation of explosives.

The Committee also discussed the various provinces negotiating mandates on the National Road Traffic A/B. Eight out of the nine provinces supported the Bill. The Limpopo province had analysed the implications of the Bill and felt that it contained several provisions that were controversial. The province then felt that consultation with the relevant stakeholders was necessary and decided to conduct public hearings to solicit inputs on the Bill. Stakeholders agreed that more time was needed to consult amongst each other. Having considered the Bill, the Portfolio Committee on Roads and Transport in the province conferred a negotiating mandate on NCOP delegates to negotiate while the Limpopo province awaited public inputs.

The Provinces raised matters such as having a single uniform for traffic officers across the country, overloading of goods on vehicles, penalties for not wearing safety belts, emergency vehicle drivers abusing their right to misuse the rules of the road and the sale of traffic officers’ uniforms to people. Provinces were also particularly concerned about the clause that stipulated that people had to stop immediately when they were involved in an accident and report the accident immediately. Members wondered if this was necessary if the accident was a minor one. The Department stated that they could amend the clause to say that accidents had to be reported within 24 hours. The Department also assured the Committee that they would work with the South African Police Service to ensure that emergency vehicle drivers only misused the rules of the road in cases of emergency.

Meeting report

National Railway Safety Regulator Amendment Bill: negotiating mandates
The Chairperson asked that the provinces read out their negotiating mandates.

Free State
Mr L van Rooyen (ANC, Free State) stated that the province had considered the Bill and comments made by the public. Free State wanted security at railway stations to be looked at closely, particularly security guards. The Free State recommended a vote in favour of the Bill, provided that railway safety was considered.

Ms Maria Koorts, Deputy Director General: Department of Transport (DoT), noted that the Free State’s mandate spoke about opening up certain railway stations and the security of railway stations. The opening of railway stations was an operational matter, not dealt with by the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) at all. She thanked the Free State for their input and said that Department would address the matter through operational processes. There were also operational ways in which the Department could execute safety at railway stations. The issue of security guards could be indirectly addressed with regulations and setting safety standards.

Gauteng
The Chairperson read out Gauteng’s mandate which stated that Gauteng supported the principle of the Bill. However, there were some issues that the province was concerned about, such as stakeholder consultation and the financial implications of the Bill.

Ms Koorts stated that the Department had had interactions with the different stakeholders. Stakeholder involvement in the development of the Bill had been good. She added that the Bill did not have direct financial implications. Penalties would be given to those railway stations that did not take proper safety precautions. Indirectly, there would definitely be penalties for operators if they did not comply with safety standards.

Kwazulu-Natal
Kwazulu-Natal supported the Bill.

Limpopo
Ms H Matlanyane (ANC, Limpopo) stated that after consideration of the Bill, Limpopo had decided to support it.

Mpumalanga
Mpumalanga voted in favour of the Bill, however there were some issues that they were concerned about. One of these were occupational health and safety which they wanted included in the Bill.

Ms Koorts noted that the province wanted the Regulator to be empowered so that it could act on violations of occupational health and safety. She assured the Committee that the issue of occupational health and safety was included in the Bill

The province also wanted the Bill to be broadened so that it compelled the RSR to disclose instances where operators paid little or no attention to the safety of workers.

In response, Ms Koorts said that an information system would be developed by the RSR, which would compile all railway safety information. The system would look at the safety of workers and the impact on operations. The idea was to have a specific focus on the safety concern for workers and the impact of implementing strict safety regulations. 

Mpumalanga was also concerned about the safety of transporting explosives.

The Department agreed that this was important. Therefore they added a section in the Bill that looked at the transportation of dangerous goods. Protection measures would be put in place.

Northern Cape
 The Northern Cape supported the Bill, but wanted the memo in the Bill to be corrected.

Ms Koorts agreed that changes would be made to the memo in the Bill. 

North West
The North West supported the Bill; however they proposed a few changes to be made to the Bill. The North West had an issue with the definition of “behaviour” in the Bill.

Ms Koorts reminded the Committee that the word “behaviour” was mentioned in the Bill when there might be an action from the RSR ,such as an investigation, where they found that there was any behaviour that would lead to a threat to safety.

Western Cape
The Western Cape supported the Bill.

Eastern Cape
Ms Matlanyane noted that the delegate from the Eastern Cape province was not yet at the meeting.

The Chairperson read the Eastern Cape’s mandate on behalf of the delegate. The province supported the Bill and proposed no further amendments to it.

The Chairperson asked if provinces wanted to ask the Department any more questions. There were no further comments or questions.

National Road Traffic Amendment Bill: negotiating mandates
The Chairperson asked that the provinces read out their negotiating mandates.

Eastern Cape
The Chairperson read that the Eastern Cape supported the Bill, however they wanted a few matters to be considered. The mandate stated that Clause 2 had to give the Minister powers to prescribe a single uniform for traffic officers across the country. The Eastern Cape thought that Clause 9 was confusing because it was the province’s opinion that Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Venda and Ciskei (TBVC) licences were not valid. Clause 12 of the Bill was too harsh. Instead of endorsing licences, higher fines should be imposed. Clause 15 and 16 did not cover vehicles transporting VIPs such as the President, Ministers and Premiers. This category of people and escort vehicles had to be included in the Bill. Clause 17(a) had to be amended so that the Minister made regulations after consultation with the Minister of Safety and Security. The Eastern Cape proposed that Clause 25 be amended so that the Minister was given powers to prescribe rates that should be imposed for various traffic offences, as they differed from one place to another. Controls measures had to be put in place for foreign driving licences and foreign vehicle roadworthy certificates. It was recommended that traffic officers’ uniforms be patented.

Mr John Motsatsing, Acting Chief Director: Road Transport Regulation; Transport Regulation and Accident and Incident Investigation (DoT) stated that the Eastern Cape’s concerns were noted. 

Free State
The Free State supported the adoption of the Bill, however they felt that traffic officers had to be well trained and had to wear nametags. The mandate suggested that for overloading of goods on vehicles, the owner of the vehicle had to be responsible for the penalties, not the driver. When a person was caught speeding, the driving licence must be confiscated for only a certain period and reviewed thereafter. The Free State recommended that the government had to review the penalty given to passengers if safety belts were not worn. The government had to look at irresponsible taxi drivers and they had to interact with the motor industry so that there was compliance with safety standards.

Mr Motsatsing stated that law enforcers were adequately trained and that nametags would be worn. The Free State’s concern about overloading of goods on vehicles was in line with what the Department was proposing in the Bill. The penalties imposed for not wearing safety belts were being reviewed.

Gauteng
Gauteng supported the Bill without amendments.

Kwazulu-Natal
Kwazulu-Natal supported the Bill without amendments.

Limpopo
The Limpopo Province analysed the implications of the Bill and felt that it contained several provisions that were controversial. The province felt that consultation with the relevant stakeholders was necessary and decided to conduct public hearings to solicit inputs on the Bill. Stakeholders agreed that more time was needed to consult amongst each other. Having considered the Bill, the Portfolio Committee on Roads and Transport in the province conferred a negotiating mandate on NCOP delegates to negotiate while the province awaited public inputs.

Mpumalanga
Mpumalanga was in favour of the Bill; however, they felt that there was a lack of uniformity regarding traffic officers’ uniforms and vehicles. They thought that emergency vehicles and escort services for VIPs were abusing their sirens and tighter measures had to be put in place to manage this problem. Mpumalanga noted that there was an issue regarding the legitimacy of roadworthy certificates issued in foreign countries and that there was a problem with licences in the former TBVC states, as most of these licences had not been converted.

Mr Motsatsing addressed the issue of emergency services and escort services abusing their sirens. He stated that the Department would have to monitor prosecutions of drivers that committed this offence. The Department wanted to change the attitude of the drivers by implementing stricter sentences for committing offences.

Mr Motsatsing stated that the issue of TBVC licences was covered in the Bill. 

Northern Cape
The Northern Cape supported the Bill; however; they felt that the Bill had to address the uniform in terms of colour and design. The province also wanted clarity on what “any unauthorised aid” meant in clause 7(b).

Mr Motsatsing stated that the provinces concern was noted, there was a need for a single uniform in the Republic. “Unauthorised aid” was any material that a learner could use to aid him/her in a learners test that was not allowed.

North West
The North West supported the Bill. However, they noted that there had to be a provision in the Bill that stopped manufacturers and tailors from selling traffic uniforms to private individuals. Clause 7(b) had to include a provision for penalties for officials that provided aid material during learner testing. The province also recommended that the Bill consider the misuse of the provision for drivers of emergency vehicles to exceed the general speed limit.

Mr Motsatsing stated that the North West’s concern about the sale of traffic uniforms was noted. Current provisions in the Bill said that accidents had to be reported immediately. However, this could be amended to say that accidents had to be reported within 24 hours.

Mr Motsatsing noted that there were officials that colluded to manufacture fake licences and Clause 7(b) would deal with both the applicants and the officials.

Mr Motsatsing addressed the misuse of the provision that allowed emergency vehicles to exceed the general speed limit. He stated that emergency vehicle drivers were only allowed to disobey the rules of the road if there was an emergency situation. The Department would engage with the South African Police Service (SAPS) and local government to ensure that authorised personnel only disobeyed the rules of the road when there was an emergency.

Western Cape
The Western Cape supported the Bill; however, the province recommended that Clause 3 of the Bill be deleted. The province thought that Clause 16, which covered “certain drivers may exceed general speed limit”, was too broad and would authorise those drivers to exceed the speed limit even when not responding to an emergency. Clause 17 was ambiguous and created the impression that a driver involved in a collision had to stop his vehicle immediately at the scene of the accident and report the accident. This was impractical and a period had to be stipulated in which accidents should be reported.   

Mr Motsatsing reminded the Committee that Clause 3 dealt with incidents where somebody who was not a traffic officer wore traffic officers’ uniform. If the clause were removed from the Bill, there would not be a provision to assist the Department in ensuring that people were not posing as traffic officers.

On Clause 16, Mr Motsatsing stated that the Department would engage with the SAPS and other emergency services to instil a sense of responsibility in their code of conduct so that they would not transgress legal requirements. He wanted emergency vehicle drivers to comprehend the legal responsibility placed on them when on a public road and when tending to emergency situations.

Mr Motsatsing stated that Clause 17(1)(f) in the Bill covered the Western Cape’s concern in Clause 17.

Mr Motsatsing reminded the Committee that the Department was till available for further engagement on the Bill.

General Discussion
Mr M Mzizi (IFP, Gauteng) referred the Western Cape’s issue with Clause 17. He also wondered why a car would have to stop immediately and report the accident if it were only a minor accident.

Mr van Rooyen agreed with Mr Mzizi. He thought that the Western Cape’s point had to be taken seriously. He also noted the country should not have to wait for single standardized uniform for all provincial traffic officers.

Mr Motsatsing stated that there was logic behind stopping the motor vehicle immediately and reporting the accident. However, the Department could insert a 24-hour period in which people were allowed to report accidents.

Mr A Watson (DA, Mpumalanga) asked about the single uniform for traffic officers across the Republic.

Mr Motsatsing stated that the Department would look in to the request; however, the request would have to be looked at through various structures such as MINMEC and other road traffic management entities.

The Chairperson wondered if it was possible that the Committee could have all the Department’s responses to the concerns of the provinces in writing so that it could be sent off to the provinces as one package.

Mr Motsatsing stated that the Department would engage with Parliament to ensure that the provinces received their responses.

The meeting was adjourned.

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