Hansard: Appropriation Bill : Debate on Vote No 33 – Transport
House: National Assembly
Date of Meeting: 02 Jul 2009
No summary available.
EPC – COMMITTEE ROOM: E249
Friday, 3 July 2009 Take: 392
FRIDAY, 3 JULY 2009
PROCEEDINGS OF THE EXTENDED PUBLIC COMMITTEE – COMMITTEE ROOM E249
Members of the Extended Public Committee met in Committee Room E249 at 09:01.
House Chairperson Mr K O Bapela, as Chairperson, took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayers or meditation.
START OF DAY
(Debate on Vote No 33 – Transport)
The MINISTER OF TRANSPORT: Chairperson, hon members, Deputy Minister of Transport, the hon Cronin, chairperson of the portfolio committee, Ms Ruth Bhengu, MECs, ladies and gentlemen, one of the foremost thinkers of our time, former President of India Dr A P J Kalam is passionate about technology, children and development. After delivering one of his talks, a 10-year-old came up to him for an autograph and he asked her what her ambition was. "I want to live in a developed India," she replied without hesitation. The ambition of that 10-year-old is shared by 48 million people in this country and 800 million people on the continent.
Like the rest of the world, we want development. We have moved from a state of underdevelopment, which was induced by apartheid colonialism. We now characterise ourselves, and are characterised by others, as a developing country. A country is developed when it has peace, democracy, water, energy, transport and communication.
In his book, A vision for the New Millennium, Dr Kalam asks the question about development, "the next question which comes to mind is how can it be made possible? We have to build and strengthen our national infrastructure in a big way." Later in this presentation we will turn our attention to infrastructure as a route to development.
President Jacob Zuma told the taxi industry in April this year to defer negotiations on the Bus Rapid Transit, BRT, system until after the elections. During the state of the nation address the President said the Minister of Transport would resume discussions with the industry by 11 June 2009. Indeed, on 11 June 2009 we met over 2000 representatives of the taxi industry made up of taxi associations and their organised structures nationally. Prior to that, we held a fruitful discussion with the leadership of the South African National Taxi Council, Santaco.
On 26 June, we met the leadership of the National Taxi Alliance, NTA, and held similar consultations with provincial departments and affected municipalities. We are now all ready to start a "Codesa" of the taxi industry. We will encourage the industry to participate in the entire transport value chain. These include buses, freight, rail, transport finance and fuel to mention a few. For a start, our structured engagement focuses on five strategic areas: Implementation of the Bus Rapid Transit system and other Integrated Rapid Public Transport Networks, IRPTN; taxi subsidisation and the Taxi Recapitalisation Programmes; legislation, licensing and regulatory issues; enterprise development; and communication and stakeholder engagement.
We have agreed that a working group made up of government, the national Department of Transport, provinces and the affected cities will be formed. In this vein we would like to acknowledge the presence, here in this House, of the taxi industry. Your presence indicates a new leaf in our relationship as partners and stakeholders in the transport sector. We can say we have now entered a phase that is not going to be characterised by conflict. We are in the postconflict phase in the taxi industry. As a son of a preacher, I know there's a verse in the Galatians that says:
Kepha uma nidlana, nilumana, qaphelani ukuthi ningaqedani. [Ihlombe.]
If 2009 is a turning point in our country, it will indeed be a pity if the taxi industry does not turn. We will implement integrated ticketing to ensure seamless movement between the various transport modes. We are thus planning to implement the IRPTN in eight major cities that is: Johannesburg; Tshwane; Cape Town; eThekwini; Polokwane; Nelson Mandela; Mbombela; and Mangaung.
We must acknowledge that the bus sector is experiencing problems and requires urgent intervention. Durban Transport, one of our subsidised bus services, is beset with problems. The present operator opted out within eThekwini as of 1 July. The operator cited inadequate subsidies and escalating fuel costs as the reason. Together with the eThekwini Metro and the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport we will find alternative operators as a matter of urgency. We will appoint new operators who will start on 1 August 2009 for a period of 12 months. The city is finalising discussions with taxi and other bus services to provide additional trips during July to maintain ongoing services.
Government is investing R25 billion over the MTEF period to stabilise and upgrade rail passenger transport services in our country. Of this, R14 billion is being spent to upgrade rail passenger infrastructure rolling stock, whilst the balance will be funded by rail operations.
The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa, Prasa, has shown its capacity to absorb the huge capital allocations, and in some instances, has exceeded the capital funds allocated to it. South Africa has gone a long way in curbing the decline in commuter rail services over the past few years. Prasa has since the 2006-07 financial year accelerated the rolling stock investment. This has resulted in over 1 500 coaches being refurbished to the tune of R5 billion. An additional 700 coaches will go through this programme this year at an estimated R2 billion. Prasa is on course to eliminate the historical backlogs in the General Overhaul and upgrading rolling stock. Whilst the R25 billion allocated by government remains vital to the upgrading of the current rail passenger transport, we need to recognise that the intervention will not resolve the key underlying challenges facing rail in the long term.
The Gautrain is one of our key infrastructure projects to date. The Gautrain Management Agency and the Bombela Consortium assured us that their recovery plan will ensure that Phase 1, between O R Tambo Airport and Sandton, will be ready before the Fifa World Cup. To date Gauteng, has sustained more than 12 000 local direct jobs and more than 68 000 direct, indirect jobs. It has also contributed to Black Economic Empowerment.
When we speak of poverty, we make a distinction between poor people as individuals and families, and poor communities. A community is poor if it does not have water, roads, electricity and communication. Correcting the legacy of apartheid on rural South Africa calls for the creation of an equitable road network. No school, hospital, clinic or public facility should be unreachable just because there is no road. To begin with, all public facilities in all communities should be accessible by car. We will build pedestrian bridges where necessary to ensure life continues regardless of whether it has rained or not. To fund this, the budget of the Rural Transport Development Programme, RTDP, needs to increase. We are also looking at nonmotorised transport such as the Shova Kalula bicycle programme, where a total of 26 000 bicycles were distributed last year and we will have distributed a further 15 000 by April 2010.
We will pay particular attention to combating fraud and corruption in procurement and tender processes, the Road Accident Fund, RAF, and driving licences. There are a couple of important documents in the life of a human being: a birth certificate; Identity Document, ID, which confirm that you exist; a driving licence; a passport; and perhaps a marriage certificate.
Working with home affairs we will ensure that all our documents have enhanced security and unquestionable integrity to be acceptable in our country and internationally. The current service provider's contract for the drivers' smart cards expired on 30 April 2009. It was extended to 31 December of this year, to allow for a proper tender process. We will appoint a new service provider by the end of the year.
A new computerised examination system for learner licences will root out corruption and fraud. Plans to computerise all learner licence centres will start immediately. For rural communities new mobile licence testing centres will bring access closer. KwaZulu-Natal already has 21 fixed stations and two mobile stations; Gauteng has 1 fixed and 2 mobile; and Mpumalanga has 3 fixed and 1 mobile. We will be rolling these out to the rest of the country.
In the state of the nation address, President Jacob Zuma said:
Another important element of our drive to create job opportunities is the Expanded Public Works Programme, EPWP. The second phase of the programme aims to create about four million job opportunities by 2014. Between now and December 2009, we plan to create about 500 job opportunities.
President Zuma further said:
The newly-formed Infrastructure Development Cluster of government will ensure that the planned R787 billion infrastructure expenditure, as provided for in the budget earlier this year, is properly planned. This funding includes allocations for the school building programme, public transport, including the Bus Rapid Transit system, housing, water and sanitation.
The EPWP infrastructure sector aims to create 2,3 million job opportunities using labour-intensive methods over five years. There are very good examples of labour-intensive programmes in many of our provinces which we intend to roll out nationally. We will systematise this approach as we build bridges, roads and other infrastructure throughout the country.
The Rural Road Maintenance programme in KwaZulu-Natal has to date created 42 000 sustainable jobs. These, mostly women, maintain 21 000km of road. We will identify 100 000km of road to maintain nationally, which will create 200 000 sustainable jobs. This is part of our contribution to the 500 000 jobs that the President mentioned in the state of the nation address. The emerging contractor programme in road construction creates thousands of job opportunities and promotes Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment. These programmes will be funded from the rural roads component of the Infrastructure Grant of R5 billion.
Lawlessness detracts from our drive to become a developed country that respects human life. The carnage on our roads is unacceptable and can be stopped. The complete road safety strategy will be released soon.
Having completed the pilot Road Traffic Infringement Agency, RTIA, in Tshwane and Johannesburg, the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences, Aarto, is now ready for implementation. This will include the demerit system, which is similar to acquiring yellow cards until a red card becomes inevitable. The same is now going to apply to your driving licence. You retain or lose your driving licence according to your conduct on our shared space, the public roads. This is what the demerit system is all about. It's now going to be part of our lives in South Africa. Road safety is no longer going to be left to the individual's conscience.
We will bolster traffic law enforcement and education. A total of 145 patrol cars, 20 roadblock trailers and other law enforcement equipment will assist the Special Operations Unit at high accident frequency localities; that is in addition to what provinces and cities have. The road infrastructure strategic framework and its action plan will help us assess, prioritise and reclassify the road network. In addition we have developed the South African National Road Agency Limited, Sanral, Strategic Road Network and infrastructure investment plans.
The three-year Gauteng freeway improvement scheme comprises lane additions and interchange upgrades of approximately 185km. A further 65km will be completed in Gauteng by 2012 at an estimated cost of R14,3 billion. On the issue of the N2 Wild Coast, the Minister of Intergovernmental Co-operation and I will, together with the stakeholders, ensure that all issues are addressed, whether they are green or brown issues, we want them addressed in a satisfactory manner.
The Airports Company of South Africa, Acsa, has embarked on infrastructure development to the sum of R20 billion in anticipation of the increase in the number of passengers travelling to South Africa by 2010. At present, Acsa handles more than 32 million passengers annually. The number will be 43 million in the year 2010 and will continue to grow. At the end of 2011, the ten airports under Acsa's network should facilitate 44,4 million passengers and handle 611 631 aircraft landings. Major airport developments are taking place at O R Tambo, La Mercy, Cape Town, Polokwane and Bloemfontein. We hope to finalise the formal naming of the new airport at La Mercy in accordance with national legislation and the regulations of the International Civic Aviation Organisation, Icao. Until that process is complete, there is no name. This process is underway. This has become urgent, taking into account the rules of Icao, which say that a name must be formally filed by the country for it to be registered as an official name. The coming Fifa World Cup calls on us to speed up this process so it can be ready to use.
The health of a country's road network determines its wealth and net worth. Africa's economic health is critical and requires urgent and steady resuscitation through transport infrastructure. With this in mind, the Department of Transport will actively develop closer links with its counterparts in Africa. The Southern African Development Community, SADC, Ministers who deal with infrastructure met recently in Namibia. A government delegation of several Ministers from South Africa made presentations to the gathering. We have also been invited to Dar es Salaam on 8 July this year, to address a conference under the theme, "Make Roads Safe Africa 2009." All these interactions form part of the region's plan to prioritise the provision of transport infrastructure, which is a key driver of economic growth.
The Confederations Cup has underlined that the 2010 World Cup is not just about sport. Twenty-two players on the field do not make a soccer match, but merely a practice. It's only a match when fans fill the stadiums and the fan parks. A co-ordinating structure of transport has been established to look at all matters around transport and report to the relevant structures dealing with 2010. Yesterday, we agreed that each department of transport in the provinces and the relevant municipalities will appoint a person with whom the buck will stop when there's a traffic snarl-up. [Applause.]
We know that the 2010 Fifa World Cup is going to be a nightmare, as far as transport is concerned, particularly with the arrival of heads of state, like the President of the United States, most of the European Union, EU, Prime Ministers - we know the King, Prince and Prime Minister of Spain are coming - and that becomes a nightmare for transport. We need those dedicated people who deal with transport issues and report to the Department of Transport nationally and to the relevant structures of Fifa.
Soon we'll be visiting the host cities to assess transport plans for 2010. We definitely are not going to be satisfied with the PowerPoint presentations that look very beautiful, but when you get to the ground you find that it does not even exist. [Applause.] Transport remains critical for a successful 2010 Fifa World Cup, because every fan and official at the stadium will use the transport system during the tournament. Through our planned public transport infrastructure of R19,6 billion we will ensure the tournament leaves a rich legacy for our country and continent.
The Budget of the Department of Transport for 2009 is R23,7 billion.
Our receipts from dividends received from the Acsa, and share revenue from salvage tugs that provide oil pollution prevention services. In 2007 the department received Acsa dividends of R100,7 million. No dividends have been declared for this year.
In 2008, the department received R140 million. The bulk of the funds go to Integrated Planning and Inter-sphere Co-ordination, R8,8 billion, and Public Transport, R14,2 billion. Programme 1 is R231 million; programme 2 is R51 million and the rest as it goes.
In conclusion, efficient, affordable and modern transport systems can redefine Africa as a developed world. Like that 10-year-old in India we all wish to live in a developed country and continent. It is not the wealth of the country that builds roads; it is the roads that build the wealth of the country. [Applause.]
I would like to thank my predecessor, the hon Jeff Radebe for laying a very firm foundation for the work we are doing today. I also want to thank the Director-General, Ms. Mpumi Mpofu and her team for their work and dedication in the work that they do, we appreciate that very much. I thank the portfolio committee and Chairperson Ruth Bhengu for the constructive way in which they engaged the Department of Transport so we can fine-tune our programmes for the benefit of our people and country, You will see that team transport is really the mover, as we met with all the provinces and our agencies, we are ready to move South Africa. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Thank you Minister. I would like to inform the House that we have, in the gallery, a study tour by the deaf people from the social auxiliary workers. They are with us right there at the back, I think you'll see sign language going on there. [Applause.] As you praise them in sign language, they say you do this ... Thank you. So, you ought to learn thattwelfth language. South Africans, that's a challenge.
Ms N R BHENGU / END OF TAKE
The MINISTER OF TRANSPORT
Ms N R BHENGU: Chairperson, hon members, ladies and gentlemen, the ANC takes this opportunity to congratulate both Comrade Sbu Ndebele and Comrade Jeremy Cronin on their deployment to lead the transformation process of transport in South Africa. We have full confidence in their leadership based on the experience they have both gained as MEC for Transport in KwaZulu-Natal and chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Transport in the National Assembly respectively. We also want to thank Comrade Jeff Radebe for laying the foundation that we would all build on.
We are debating the Budget Vote of a department that perceives itself as the heartbeat for social and economic transformation. The ANC shares this view. Nothing moves without transport. The development of all sectors in our country depends heavily on transport. We, however, note the slow pace in transformation of transport in South Africa. Fifteen years into democracy, the cost of public transport is still too high, public commuters spend long hours in queues waiting for transport and travel for long hours to and from work. This is not a desirable situation. The ANC commends the restructuring of the department from three to nine branches. We applaud Cabinet for approving the restructuring. We understand that the restructuring process had to be implemented on a phased approach due to financial constraints put forward by Treasury.
This phased approach has resulted with a high vacancy rate in the department as well as a slow transformation process on the ground. We therefore urge Treasury to look into this and review the phased-in approach to allow full funding of the approved structure of the department. This will result in the speedy transformation on the ground and reduce overspending due to unfunded mandates.
In February 1995, the first President of a democratic South Africa, Comrade Nelson Mandela, launched the Masakhane Campaign and said that it was an ongoing campaign. During the launch, President Mandela highlighted the issues of class divisions in our society and services that were provided along the class divides. He said:
There are adequate services for urban communities. These services would require maintenance by the government so as to prevent them from degrading. There are inadequate services for township and peri-urban communities, the standards of which would need upgrading and improvement. There are rural and farm communities with no services at all. Government would need to provide them with that.
We want to bring it to the attention of Parliament that there is no clear co-ordination of government resources to provide a balance between maintenance, upgrading and provision of services, particularly when it comes to road infrastructure. We are happy that the Minister has announced plans that are addressing that issue in his budget speech today.
Lack of road maintenance has resulted with many roads having bad potholes, resulting in road accidents and the Department of Transport being sued for damages. The money that the department spends defending road accident cases in court and paying for damages is supposed to be spent on maintenance and upgrading road infrastructure. The committee will further engage the Department of Transport and the Road Accident Fund on these issues.
The President, Comrade Jacob Zuma, in his state of the nation address, charged the Minister of Transport, Comrade Sbu Ndebele, with the responsibility of finding solutions to challenges of the Bus Rapid Transport, BRT, system and the Minister has moved with speed on this, and we thank the Minister for having done so. There is now progress in the BRT system and we agree with the approach of the Minister of Transport in engaging with the taxi industry to raise issues from government's side and allowing the taxi industry to raise their issues.
We commend both parties for resolving to establish a national joint working committee composed of government on one side and the taxi industry on the other hand. We, however, want to point out that government is responsible for providing transport-related services to the citizens of South Africa. The needs of commuters are equally important and, therefore, there is a need to include in the national joint working committee, the civil society to represent the views of commuters. [Applause.]
The discussions of the national joint working committee should address all issues relating to public transport and the role of the taxi industry. Notwithstanding existing challenges in the taxi industry, we still believe that it has made a positive contribution in transporting the poor township and rural communities who were neglected by the apartheid government.
We view the development of the taxi industry in the context of the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment. We therefore urge the Department of Transport to acknowledge the unused economic power of the taxi industry and mobilise relevant government departments and developmental institutes to work with the taxi industry to develop it to a sustainable co-operative movement like the Mont Dragon Complex in Spain and the Antigonish Movement in Canada.
We believe that, given the necessary support and guidance, the taxi industry can have its own co-operative banks; its own petroleum industry; its own insurance services; its own tyre manufacturing plants and its own car assembling plant. This would transform the taxi industry into a sustainable value chain in transportation. This is the only industry that is broad-based and controlled by black people in South Africa, let us all help it develop to its full potential. [Applause.]
In the report of the Portfolio Committee on Transport Budget Vote 33, the portfolio committee observes a number of issues that require a follow up by the committee and the department, including the oversight to entities that answer to the Department of Transport.
One issue that needs to be reviewed at Cabinet level relates to the SA Airways and Transnet's line of accountability. Currently, these entities report to the Department of Public Enterprises when they provide transport related services with impact on the transformation process of transport in the country. We would request Parliament and the Leader of Government Business in Parliament to look into this matter so as to facilitate an improved situation that does not compromise transport related services provided by the SA Airways and Transnet.
We thank the Director-General in Transport and her team for their dedication and executing the responsibilities of our government on transport. We urge all South Africans to work together and do more in transport. The ANC supports Budget Vote 33. Thank you. [Applause.]
Mr S B FARROW / END OF TAKE
Ms N R BHENGU
Mr S B FARROW: Chair, firstly, let me congratulate you, Minister, on your appointment and also our previous portfolio chairperson, Jeremy Cronin, as your Deputy. Transport is not new to either of you, and I certainly believe that your collective knowledge can only be good for transport in general. It is in this light that my colleague and I will look forward to working with you both.
Minister, your role in KwaZulu-Natal as a no-nonsense, zero-tolerance practitioner against road traffic infringers and perpetrators is well known. I trust you will continue to impose the same tough policies at national level in an attempt to bring down what must be one of the worst road death rates in the world.
Minister, we have to take back control of our roads and the highways before the World Cup and even beyond that. To do so, you need to take heed of what the DA has been calling for, for as long as I have been in these debates, which is over 10 years - that is, to increase the number of traffic officers on the road. The effect of visible policing is well known, and I won't go into details here. But if they are not to be seen, motorists will "thatha a chance", and they will end up being the cause of road fatalities and injuries that drain the Road Accident Fund, RAF, and the country's resources.
The over 350 000 claims backlog is not moving quick enough, despite the injection of two tranches of R5 billion specially appropriated funds from this Parliament. It's like putting water into a bottomless bucket. Despite the number of interventions by this Parliament to amend the Act, the RAF is still being subjected to constitutional challenges and increased litigation.
Although the department is investigating the no-fault system as a possible solution, the impact of the system needs to be carefully investigated and debated. More urgently, Minister, we need to find a solution to a suitable funding model. We cannot afford with the present bailouts. The system is flawed. As an interim measure, we need to look at these high litigation costs and the arbitration model or pilot model which ran for many years here in the Western Cape is a consideration which needs to be looked at. This actually avoids litigation and tries to find settlement on the steps of the courts. At the same time - this was mentioned to me by your colleague - it could also relieve some of the clogging up of the courts. If one can look at the rolls of the courts, they are just full of RAF cases. Furthermore, I suggest that we look at investing money in the Arrive Alive campaign as a possibility, which will save lives in future, because accidents, of course, have a cause and effect.
The other pressing issues that I would like to address relate to the persistent underfunding of two other programmes in your department. The first one is my perennial favourite, road and rail, but I am going to leave it to my colleague here to discuss and debate. The other one relates to the issue of public transport subsidies – the Bus Rapid Transit, BRT, system and the taxis - and the impact they have on the coming World Cup, which is only 342 days away now.
The previous Minister, Jeff Radebe, was not the best correspondent with me for some reason, and much of my important correspondences went unanswered. Frustrated motorists with long outstanding concerns have raised concerns and have even resorted to writing to me on toilet paper now because he apparently just wiped away their concerns. [Laughter.] This particular case has been going on for over a year and denotes to a simple problem of driving licences. I would like to ask you, Minister, to have a look at that, because you mentioned in your speech that you were going investigate Prodiba and their role in this whole thing.
As far as the bus subsidy is concerned, we run out of money every year. We know about that. We need to find a system that can multiticket and embrace all modes of transport and offer the commuter the subsidy and not the operator. This is a DA policy, and I am aware of that. I am prepared to give you a document to show you what we are thinking about regarding that. It is used universally and it works, so let's not try and reinvent the wheel. The current contractual system for buses and concessionary systems for rail continues unabated and without proper research and I think we need to look at that very specifically. The programme needs urgent overhauling and is not sustainable. Just like private transporters who fund themselves whilst using state infrastructure, so should Metrorail.
When I first became part of this portfolio committee some 10 years ago, the South African Rail Commuter Corporation, SARCC, was enacted to fund itself, but for some reason, they withdrew that arrangement. I think it needs to be reinstated, because capital is a very scarce resource at this particular economic climate that we are in. If funds can be sourced externally, we can save in fact something like R14 billion on the current budget over the medium-term and put it back into rail infrastructure in order to meet its demands there.
I want to raise another issue relating to the BRT system and taxis and the stop-go relations that took place between the President and the SA National Taxi Council, Santaco, which you had to come and inherit. I am glad you said that you were now in a postconflict phase, but there are certain things which we need to get straightened out here, Sir. I appeal to you not to get sucked in by this "fat cat" body, Santaco, for heaven's sake. I have worked with these people for a long time. With due respect to you, hon Bhengu, this is exactly how they held the department to ransom for many years - by giving them pieces and pieces of cake. We must talk to the associations that are in the cold phase. Those are the people who should be getting the benefits of all the particular issues you raised. I am very much in favour of that happening, but it is not happening. I think it is important too that we understand some of the retorts they have been having. We need to make sure about these retorts and make a very big and strong statement about them.
There are disgruntled taxi associations laying claims to certain demands in the industry. I just want to quote our previous portfolio committee chair when we had the same situation. He said:
The routes and ranks don't belong to you but to the ratepayers who pay for them, keep them and maintain them.
I think that is the starting point we should consider doing here. The taxi operators are not a law unto themselves, and they must fit into the overall plans of the government. The BRT system is a part of the Fifa World Cup bid, and we would like to see this legacy here for future generations. We owe it to the commuting public to provide a safe, efficient, clean, reliable and sustainable service in our cities. I therefore urge you, Minister, to challenge the utterings of some of the taxi associations who claim that they are going to make Cape Town another Baghdad, and that they want full ownership of the BRT system. They should be seen as partners in this thing. It is paramount that you get negotiations with these taxi associations back on track.
Rea Vaya has already caused wasted expenditure to tune off millions of rands. The so-called "retirement" of Bob Stanway who was leading this process in the City of Johannesburg at a crucial stage is of major concern to us together with stadia strikes that have now been threatened.
The BRT system is only one component of our integrated transport system. Buses, taxis and rail play a major part in this system. The cake is big enough for all to share.
We are very concerned about timeframes. I am glad that you have put together this co-ordinating committee which I picked up from the website this morning. We still note that after the Confederations Cup trial, there are still no adequate funds from the Public Transport Infrastructure Fund, PTIF, going into the cities. There needs to be co-ordination of these various modes of public transport, and we need to look at a one-stop communication and information centre for people to go into and decide which bus to use to go where, etc.
Finally, transport problems were the biggest problems faced by the Confederations Cup. We cannot rest on our laurels. The World Cup is 10 times bigger, and there will be many more international visitors travelling to and from our cities who will be solely reliant on public transport and proper signage. Airports Company South Africa, Acsa, for instance - although they are doing a commendable job in our airports - needs to ensure that sufficient holding areas exist for sufficient coaches and buses. It is estimated that some 350 000 fans will pass through our airports. If the logistics of getting these fans and their luggage to and from their hotels and from their hotels to the venues are not looked at - that is if their luggage hasn't been stolen - then we have a logistical nightmare developing.
Linked to this is the issuing of some 1 000 new operating licenses for these buses and coaches. We need to look at the Operating Licence Board. [Interjections.]
Thank you very much, Minister. We are looking forward to your interaction with us in the future. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
Mr P D POHO / END OF TAKE
Mr S B FARROW
Mr P D POHO: Chairperson, as Cope, we also want to extend our congratulations to both Ministers, Minister Sbu Ndebele and the Deputy Minister. We agree with you in principle, Mr Minister, that transport is the backbone of economic activity. Unfortunately, in our country, the department is associated with thousands of deaths on our roads, poorly maintained roads and the absence of an integrated transport system.
Hon Minister, we are also aware that you asserted the above issues that I have raised - issues of the failure of the proper maintenance of our roads and the deaths that are taking place on our roads - in your budget speech. As a result, we, as Cope, wish to indicate that we are going to support your budget.
Given the track record of this department, the big question is not really around the grand sounding policies of integration, but whether it will be in a position to implement them. We have almost half of the vacancies in the department not filled, cycle after cycle. Instead of these positions being filled, you have a stop-gap management where acting directors are put into positions instead of employing permanent managers who will take over those responsibilities. It is crucial that the matters raised by the Auditor-General about the general lack of financial control in the department are dealt with, especially in the department that has to handle multibillion rand projects. We commend you for having already taken a stance against suppliers who tend to bribe officials. I must also indicate that you indicated that you will pay particular attention to corruption in your speech. We would like to commend you for that, Mr Minister.
I must again highlight that your refusal of an appropriate gift, Mr Minister, despite the advice of the President, is hopefully the beginning of good governance. [Applause.] Given this remarks by the Auditor-General about your department, it seems to us that you will need to make sure that this also cascades to actual governance within the department. Corrupt officials need to be rooted out in this regard. As Cope, we will be watching with interest whether you will make any official take responsibility for this poor record of audit reports.
The department, by its own admission, has reported the slow pace of the implementation of what was meant to be the beginning of an integration of our transport system. The taxi industry has a special place in the hearts of our people. It is one industry that has survived against all odds. The apartheid government failed dismally to control this industry. It is, today, a singular success story of budding entrepreneurship. Both the Taxi Recapitalisation Programme, TRP, and the Bus Rapid Transit, BRT, system, with all their good intentions, are now seen by the direct beneficiaries of the taxi industry as an attempt by government to undermine this success story. We know that this is not so. But due to poor communication and sometimes arrogance on the part of your predecessor, perhaps buoyed by the ANC majority, we had a situation where commuters were held to ransom because the industry claims not to be consulted properly. As with the strike of doctors that is embarrassing the country today, there is no shortcut to consulting the people, Mr Minister, when implementing measures that may affect their livelihoods. The only real test of consultation is a harmonious outcome and not a perpetual dissent or dispute.
We also wish to highlight that there are therefore opportunities to improve the transport infrastructure. Government has huge opportunities to improve transport infrastructure. It is quite clear that the number of cars on our roads only serve to slow down economic activity and generate frustration, especially in places such as Gauteng, where travelling between major centres can take as long as two or more hours in one direction. This is a direct result of poor planning over many years where there is no coherent transport system. It seems that government has done little to change the apartheid planning that has resulted in the clogging of roads and inefficient use of time.
The Gautrain, an innovative and bold project initiated under the leadership of the then Premier, Mbhazima Shilowa, will not be the answer to all the problems in this regard, but it is an exceptional start. In this regard, Metrorail's introduction of business express lanes between Khayelitsha and Cape Town, as well as between Soweto and Johannesburg, must be rolled out in other major centres.
The rail commuter corporation has to spend more resources to promote the use of its facility and work closely to consolidate initiatives that will bolster the feeder transportation. [Interjections.]
In conclusion, we commend the department for the preparations they are making to ensure that come 2010, we will have a running transport network. We want a full report on rumours that the department is importing busses when such a tender could have been sourced locally. Our people need to benefit directly from 2010. It must be under serious exceptional circumstances that we outsource to other countries to that extend. I thank you. [Applause.]
Mr E J LUCAS / END OF TAKE
Mr P D POHO
Mr E J LUCAS: Chairperson, the IFP congratulates the Minister and Deputy Minister on their appointments. South Africa's road an air transport infrastructure serves millions of people each day and keeps the wheels of business and industry turning and is an integral part of our lives. The aim of the Department of Transport is to provide comparative transport costs, improve safety and security, reduce infrastructure backlogs, improve access and reduce its transit times to the general public.
Our transport infrastructure and public transport system must be improved if the department is to reach its stated aim. There are still too many problems and too many shortcomings with these. The lack of a reliable and safe public transport system, for example, prevents more South Africans from using the public transport and this in turn contributes to problems such as the congestion and deterioration of our roads.
This morning the Minister of Transport said that progress has been made in the discussions with the taxi industry. The IFP appreciates this, as the taxi industry is a very important part of our transport system. However, we must acknowledge that taxi passengers are still subjected to over-crowding and unsafe journeys with this mode of transport. Taxi passengers are also subjected to harassment by drivers and operators at times.
The increased volume of heavy duty vehicles on our roads is a problem and it contributes to road deterioration. There's however currently no viable or affordable alternative. The use of rail to transport heavy loads should be promoted and incentives given to industries to make use of rail. This will take a major load off our roads. The state of many commuter trains is really bad. These should be refurbished and additional security measures taken so that passengers use this mode of transport more. Again, this will help ease the congestion on our roads.
Government should effectively restructure the Road Accident Fund to ensure that corruption does not persist. We find that claims take years to be settled and when that eventually happens the lawyers' fees are so exorbitant that the victims only receive a fraction of the money due to them. Government should put claiming processes in place and that do not require the involvement of keen lawyers and ensure that money is paid directly to the accident victims. We need to look at our toll roads and the impact it has on the surrounding community using these roads daily.
In conclusion, I would like to thank the department for the briefings on the budget and for taking note of the committee's inputs. The IFP supports the Budget Vote. [Applause.]
Ms N P KHUNOU / END OF TAKE
Mr E J LUCAS
Mof N P KHUNOU: Modulasetulo, Letona la Dipalangwa le Motlatsa Letona la Dipalangwa ke a le dumedisa ebile ke a le akgola mo mosebetsing wa lona ke le akaletsa matlhogonolo. Baeti botlhe ba tlotlegileng le badiri ba lefapha.
I would like to dedicate my speech to fallen heroes and heroines who fought and waited for this time when our country will focus on delivery. I am dedicating this to the late Ncumisa Nkondlo, fallen compatriot, a gallant fighter for democracy to the end until her untimely death.
I would to agree with our President that indeed our people have spoken in large numbers. Chairperson, on the day of the elections people were in the queues as early as four o'clock in the morning to show their commitment to democracy. In their minds, I am sure that they were concerned that we need to give the ANC another mandate and saying that working together we can do more to fight poverty and build a better life for all our people.
They were encouraged by a vision of an inclusive society for the greater good of our people.
Ke bua batho ba ba rileng le ga re sa fitlhella tsotlhe tse re di tlhokang re tla ba kgetha re dirisane le bona mmogo gore re tokafatse bophelo jwa batho botlhe gonne matsogo dinku a thebanya.
Chairperson, the ANC has done a lot in the last 15 years and it's committed to do even more. One of our focal points is rural development and urban renewal. Without accessibility there won't be any economic development. In our urban areas, especially in our townships, you still find a lot of roads that need to refurbished and restructured and because of that it becomes difficult for more people to actually invest in our townships. We need those investments in our townships.
Our people have to go into town because they have to buy things they need. The poor infrastructure in the townships is a pressing issue, which is why I think we are focusing on that, as I have heard previous speakers do. We need to focus more on upgrading our rural roads. Our people in the rural areas still have to travel long distances with wheelbarrows, because cars can't even travel on some of the rural roads. So we are saying that that needs to be taken into consideration and emphasis placed on it.
The department had plans to distribute a million bicycles to rural poor, which I think is one of our strong points. Chairperson, some of the children in our rural areas still don't go to school when it is raining. I think we need to focus more on this project. For instance, the budget that the department had asked for was R31 billion, but it has been minimised. I think we need to focus more on things like the distribution of bicycles and Treasury needs to take that into cognisance.
The department is in the process of improving airport infrastructure for 2010. There are great improvements especially in host cities that are visible. The question Chairperson is: of all those projects that have been given, did BEE benefit; and for the companies that had joint ventures, was there any transfer of skills? The department has to check into this and as we are giving out projects we need to also check that our people are benefiting from those projects.
Another problem with the airports is overloading and I think that co-ordination and planning needs to be done as far as that is concerned. In the waiting area, for instance, there are not enough chairs for people to sit whilst waiting for their flights, and I think, especially here in Cape Town where we live, it's a disaster on Fridays and the Minister should take that into cognisance and make sure that we have more aircrafts.
Our entities, which is my focal point, I think they can do more if they work together. For instance, as far as co-ordination is concerned, road accidents are caused because of bad conditions of roads, potholes, markings that are not visible, etc. I think if this was taken into consideration the death toll that we are seeing on our roads could have be minimised.
I wanted to talk about what Ntate Farrow had said earlier regarding visible policing on our streets. I don't he is correct. In fact, for the first time, I am seeing some police around Cape Town and other towns and cities in our country. They are policing, but what I think you should have said, hon Farrow, was that, at night when there are problems and when these accidents happen, there is no visible policing on our roads. I think that should be our focal point.
Let us co-ordinate all our structures between local government, provincial legislatures and the national sphere of governance. I think the Minmecs are trying to actually look into this, but we need to see the effects as far as that is concerned. Effects such as what we call Integrated Development Plans, IDPs, in our local overnments, but what happens with the IDPs? I don't think it's the business of the local municipality only, but other than that we need to have way of making sure that we plan together within all those spheres of government. The ANC supports the Budget Vote. I thank you. [Applause.]
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF TRANSPORT
END OF TAKE
Ms N P KHUNOU
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF TRANSPORT: Chairperson, Minister Ndebele, chairperson of the portfolio committee, Ruth Bengu, MECs for Transport and the heads of departments present, the mayor, who is the chairperson of Salga, Members of Mayoral Committees, MMCs from cities, in charge of transport, chairpersons and chief executive officers from the family of transport entities that fall under this Transport budget, Director-General Mpumi Mpofu, colleagues from the Department of Transport, a range of stakeholders, including the minibus sector, commuter organisations, students from transport institutions – welcome, it's good to see you, a new generation of transport champions [Applause.] and friends who are here on the study tour from different institutions, colleagues and friends, in a short speech, it is very difficult to do justice to this vast field that is covered by our budget, by the Department of Transport and its many agencies, but also by cities and provinces.
There are many unsung and unreported achievements that we have seen over the last period. For instance, the Civil Aviation Authority reports to us that South African air carriers have earned an excellent reputation, particularly in transporting food aids to distressed parts of the world, in the Middle East, the horn of Africa, and so on.
Apparently, the World Food Programme, for instance insists on using South African air transporters to get them to these places because of their safety record. [Applause.] We have the Air Traffic Navigation Services, an excellent agency falling under our budget. They are training air controllers throughout our continent, from parts of the Middle East. And as tragic stories of the recent past have confirmed, this is really an important function. We are servicing not just our own air traffic needs and requirements, but those of the continent and many other Third World countries.
Our air traffic navigation services cover, apparently, one tenth of the earth space in their activities, up into Africa, halfway across the Atlantic to Brazil, up the Indian Ocean and all the way down to the South Pole. We don't notice them, but they are there and they are doing a wonderful job. [Applause.]
We have a new Railway Safety Regulator. It is a few years old. I didn't realise, hon Farrow and hon Khunou, when we were busy with the legislation that it was a pioneer as a safety regulator on the African continent, but, indeed, a pioneer in many respects, globally. I didn't realise that there are very few world safety regulators. They have begun to work. They have begun to acquire teeth, and what they have told us, which is interesting and alarming, but important to know, is that over the last two years some R2,5 billion direct costs, not other costs as a results of loss of business, have been incurred on the rail system as a result of operational weaknesses.
There are many other stories which one doesn't have time to narrate. Like other speakers, I want to focus on what naturally, as a politician, is our core constituency, and that is public transport.
As South Africa, we are on the threshold of a major transformation in public transport. Of course, this is a transformation that won't come all at once, everywhere. It won't happen simultaneously in every place, and it will, necessarily, have to be incremental in character, but, make no mistake, it is underway. It is being spurred on partly by government's commitment to making sure that the key legacy that we will derive from hosting the 2010 Fifa World Cup final, will lay down a public legacy of public transport for future generations.
It is also being assisted, this focus on public transport, by growing awareness that, despite many important achievements over the first 15 years of democracy in South Africa, there are several key factors in our society that seem to continuously reproduce gendered, class and racialised inequality and underdevelopment. And one of these, which actively do this, perhaps the most important of these, is the spatial arrangement, the spatial configuration of our society; the way in which space, where you live, where you are located, and therefore, who you are likely to be in terms of class, gender and race, impacts dramatically on the cost in time and aggravation in money that it takes you to access work, education and other basic constitutional and democratic rights. This reality continues to lie at the heart of the reproduction of gross inequalities in our society, which are often very racialised. [Applause.]
In 2004, the SA Cities Network, State of the Cities Report noted the obvious, "Apartheid cities have unusual spatial contradictions." It said "apartheid cities", but it was talking about the reality of our cities, towns and countrysides, still today. On the one hand, they are sprawling suburban realities with density levels that make it very difficult to sustain public transport. That is one of the problems and difficulties. It's very easy to say to Metrorail become self-sustainable, but it is difficult for public transport to be self-sustainable without major subsidies simply because of the design of our cities; below density levels in our sprawling suburbs. On the other hand, there is relatively high density of populous townships and informal settlements that are pushed on to the peripheries of our towns and cities.
Apartheid spatial planning was not only about the exclusion of the black majority of South Africans from rights, resources and wealth, it was also, simultaneously, about the inclusion on inferior terms of this majority as commuting labourers into white-owned places of work. This pattern of exclusion, but also simultaneous inferior inclusion, played itself out, not just within the city environment and town environment, but also in the relationship between our towns and cities and rural areas which were dormitory reserves and Bantustans.
The black majority was held far away enough to be containable, but close enough to be useful to a white minority. The social, economic and spatial realities set in place by decades of apartheid and earlier forms of colonial segregation, are now not easy to unravel, as we have discovered over the last 15 years. We can't go on blaming apartheid, of course, but at the same time it is a very difficult legacy to transform.
What was once actively planned under apartheid is now often reproduced and compounded by so-called free-market forces, in particular property prices. One of the key political commitments of the new democratically elected government back in 1994, was to roll out one million low-cost houses within five years, and we have remarkably achieved that. There are now over three million low-cost houses. But in order to meet those targets with the budget at hand, of course, we went to where the land was cheaper, again in the same dormitory locations, far away from places of work, resources and institutions. Access, mobility and inequalities of the poor have often been deepened. Unintentionally, of course, but deepened, nonetheless.
To understand, therefore, our present challenges in regard to public transport, it is necessary to understand these embedded spatial legacies that we are dealing with, and the problems that they constantly reproduce. We cannot solve public transport problems by way of transport alone. I thought this was the point that the hon Khunou was making nicely, that there need to be resources, institutions and facilities where people live, and not somewhere else that they have to travel long distances.
This underlines the importance of shifts that we have made within Cabinet. We are now calling the Department of Human Settlements to underline that what we want to do is to change the nature of communities from just rows of houses for the poor to human settlements. We need, as a department, to work very closely with the Human Settlements department. We also need to insist that one of the key mandates of the new Planning Commission is to focus on spatial transformation, to democratise South Africa's space, to deracialise South Africa' space. That is something that we have not yet achieved in these last 15 years.
However, the flipside is also true that while we can't solve these problems through transport, transport is also a key catalyser for transforming the spatial realities of South Africa, particularly public transport. Shifting away from an overemphasis on the sterile environment of freeways dominated by car congestion to public transport, nonmotorised pedestrian and bike ways, and so forth, along which businesses, mixed-income settlements can take route, is a core component of nation-building. It is not just a nice-to-have, it's the way we build a new and deracialise South Africa. Efficient and reliable public transport used by rich and poor alike fosters a sense of solidarity and national unity in a way that tens of thousands of individual cars on a congested freeway never can.
Interestingly, we got a glimpse of the possibilities of the way in which public transport and public transport infrastructure and nonmotorised pedestrian ways can begin to democratise our society. We got a glimpse of this unevenly in the last three weeks with the hosting of the Confederations Cup. Now, I would like to turn to this.
Yesterday, we held an extended Ministers and Members of Executive Council, Minmec, meeting, which included colleagues from our transport entities as well as colleagues from host cities. A key agenda item was to critically review transport arrangements during the Confederations Cup in the last few weeks. Colleagues will be aware that the Fifa President gave us a good but not perfect seven out of 10 rating for our hosting. In particular, transport and accommodation were singled out as challenges, and we agree. Indeed, a number of transport problems were encountered in the last weeks and clearly there are lessons to be learned.
Some cities were less effective than others in their planning and preparations, and this showed up in heavy congestion during match days. Hon Khunou and hon Farrow, who were with me in the previous committee, will not be surprised to hear that Rustenburg was a key culpable entity in this regard. When we, as a committee, went to look at Rustenburg in the previous Parliament, we were deeply concerned about their state of readiness, and the rude way in which they treated us, to be honest. Again, not surprisingly, we encountered problems there. Therefore, what we said coming out of that Minmec is that cities, where there is an apparent lack of capacity, will require dedicated hands-on attention from the national and provincial spheres; and we are determined to do it. [Applause.]
In most of the host cities, the key approach to transporting to and from stadiums was based on the park-and-ride principle. "Park your car and a taxi-shuttle to the stadium." Generally this approach worked relatively well, but there were a number of glitches. Initially there was poor co-operation and a lack of shared information between transport officials, traffic officials and the police. There were different chains of command; cars and shuttles were often given conflicting directions.
The training of minibus operators on the shuttles appears also to have sometimes been inadequate. There was at least one report, which I think other members would have seen as well, of a Gauride shuttle getting lost on the way from Johannesburg to a Pretoria venue.
But, of course, these negative things need to be counterbalanced with many favourable reports which we have also received about the politeness of drivers, about the sense of general safety that even suburban fans, whites in some cases, travelling with their young families, experienced on their way to matches, and a sense of being part of South Africa, in the shuttles and in this park-and-ride facilities. At least, one letter writer to a newspaper, clearly an avid soccer fan, noted from first-hand experience a distinct improvement over the course of the six different matches that he attended that there was an improvement in the park-and-ride system.
If transportation to stadiums sometimes proved complex, an even stickier problem occurred after matches. This was always going to be the tougher challenge. Fans arrive at a stadium over a two or three hour period - not South African fans, but, nonetheless, that's the idea that they should arrive two to three hours before - and this is more or less manageable, this kind of trickle-in to a stadium, with a fleet of minibus shuttles. But fans leave the stadium all in one go. Fans often experience as a result long delays or even difficulties in finding where their shuttles to their respective park-and-ride facility would be located. This is partly attributable to poor or nonexistent signage.
I know the transport family has been accused of this. When we tried to check back on what the problem was, we found that one of the problems - I don't want to displace the problems entirely - was that Fifa, which is very authoritarian, would not allow us to put up any signage to assist people to find their way to their respective shuttles. That is something that we will take up with them very sharply. We will thank them for their seven out of 10; we will agree with them that there were transport problems, but we will say that they also need to help us to provide effective transport for 2010.
There were other problems which were identified, including ineffective training and, in some cases, very low morale amongst volunteers at the park-and-ride facilities. Indeed, we are reviewing the wisdom of using volunteers, particularly in the transport environment for 2010.
Perhaps the biggest lesson, which has already been referred to by Minister Ndebele, we have learnt from the Confederations Cup is the imperative of having an effective, single command centre combining transport, traffic and security in one chain of command. [Applause.] That needs to be replicated at the local level. At a park-and-ride facility, at a stadium precinct, at the host city level, someone working, of course, with the team needs to be in charge of the totality of operations, and they need to be contactable and answerable to a command centre above them, and also have the ability to command resources below them.
An assessment of the Confederations Cup hosting would be incomplete without noting one of the most positive but largely unsung successes on the transport front. And this was the critical role that our Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa, Prasa, used to be called Rail Commuter Corporation, Metrorail and other bus facilities, played. Prasa moved some 40 000 people to matches during the weeks of the Confederations Cup. It was able to attract not just its traditional Metrorail customers, but also higher income nontraditional customers. Some were using the rail for the first time ever in their lives.
Prasa ran rail services from Johannesburg to Rustenburg on match days, and from Johannesburg to Bloemfontein. In the latter case, they transported 3 000 fans from Johannesburg to Bloemfontein for the South Africa-Spain match. These were on routes that have not operated for a long while. Everything, from all the reports we got, went without a hitch. A lot of people fell in love with rail public transport, which is fantastic.
There were also 28 train sets in operation between Coca Cola or Ellis Park and Loftus stadiums. The park-and-ride principle was also applied on the trains. There were parking facilities adjacent to train stations and fans were able to park, take a ride on the train and disembark at the newly refurbished, wonderful Doornfontein Station, a two-minute walk to Ellis Park and the Rissik Station next to Loftus Versveld Stadium, and that is something we will replicate on a larger scale, where possible, with all the stadiums for 2010.
What can we learn from this? Our trains have a passenger capacity of between 2 000 and 2 500. They are mass-movers. And this is why they, trains, rail, along with other mass-movers like our prospective Bus Rapid Transit systems and other Integrated Public Transport Network systems, need to provide the backbone for public transport mobility for 2010. And this is why it is so important that we move rapidly to the implementation of at least the first phases of these new mass movement systems, not at the expense of affected minibus operators, but through their effectiveness.
Towards the end of yesterday's Minmec assessment of the Confederations Cup, my colleague, Western Cape Transport MEC, Robin Carlisle, eloquently summarised what I think many of us felt. He said that "we have crossed the threshold" - I hope you will forgive me for quoting you – "from asking the question of 2010, how bad will 2010 transport be? To asking a new question, how good can we make it?" This was a wonderful way of putting what I think was a consensus amongst us. [Applause.]
As we ask that question, we also need to bear in mind that public transport for 2010 is not just about 2010. It is about developing the beginning of descent, affordable, accessible public transport for the great majority of South Africans. And that, I believe, is what lies at the heart of this budget which is presented to Parliament today. Thank you. [Applause.]
Mr S N SWART / END OF TAKE
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF TRANSPORT
Mr S N SWART: Chairperson, the ACDP will support this Budget Vote. How can we do otherwise, when the Minister quotes from Galatians? [Laughter.]
Deputy Minister, as we look back on the Confederations Cup, thank you for the very positive way we've looked at it. Obviously, there were some challenges, but we do believe that we're on the right track and that that threshold has been passed.
We particularly welcome the single command centre module and the announcement made after yesterday's Minmec meeting. Clearly, one needs to look beyond 2010. Whilst it is very important that it is a great success, one clearly has to look at that legacy.
We also believe that the Gautrain – that part from the Oliver Tambo International Airport to Sandton – will be a showpiece to the world, notwithstanding concerns expressed about the costs. We look forward to the completion of that phase.
Minister, as far as the Bus Rapid Transit, BRT, system is concerned, whilst we appreciate that the taxi alliance, who we welcome here today, is fully within its rights to express its concerns in a lawful manner as well as its desire to become part of the mainstream of the economy, clearly, we as the ACDP are concerned about threats and acts of violence we saw during the previous taxi protests. And clearly, the nation cannot be held to ransom. There must be zero tolerance of lawlessness and any intimidation.
Minister, again, it is quite apt for you to have quoted from Galatians as you will need the wisdom of Solomon to deal with this situation. We, as the ACDP, agree with your view and we pray for a solution and that civil society and commuter organisations should also be included in this process.
On the positive side, as far as the roads are concerned, I travel widely on the roads, and one sees major construction on the roads and all the networks. We are very appreciative of that. One of the particular roads I use through to Klerksdorp, has been improved dramatically and we are very grateful for that. However, road fatalities are still too high. We must do more to arrive alive by driving responsibly, resting when tired, keeping headlights on. Remember, drunk driving kills. Watch out for pedestrians. The philosophy I always use is: If in doubt, don't. If in doubt about overtaking, don't do it.
So, to conclude, hon Minister, the ACDP congratulates you on your appointment, including you, Deputy Minister. We wish to thank all the officials here for their hard work and commitment as you all lay down a legacy of public transport for future generations beyond next year's Fifa World Cup. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
Ms W S NEWHOUDT-DRUCHEN / END OF TAKE
Mr S N SWART
Ms W S NEWHOUDT-DRUCHEN: Chairperson, hon Minister, hon Deputy Minister and hon members here, I'd like to just concur with all the members in the House that have congratulated you on your appointment. I'd also like to inform the Deputy Minister that the department reported to us that they were very excited that you were appointed as Deputy Minister, because you are familiar with all the related matters, especially as part of the portfolio committee.
I'd also like to add to the words of welcome to the deaf, who are social auxiliary workers. It's their first time here in Parliament and they are from all over the country. So, welcome to them again. [Applause.]
The Department of Transport is mandated to provide an integrated, sustainable, reliable and safe transport system through safety and economic regulations, planning, development, co-ordination, promotion and the implementation of transport policies and strategies.
Chairperson, the eight minutes that I have been given for the speech do not justify the huge task and mandate covered by this department. However, my focus will be on public transport.
The National Household Travel Survey shows that in 2003 public transport was used by 7 million workers and learners. At least once a week 13,7 million people use public transport and the breakdown is as follows: About 1 million make use of trains; 2,6 million use buses; and about 10 million use minibus taxis, which is the reason we say that transport is obviously the heartbeat of South Africa's economic growth and social development.
Ordinary South Africans need public transport mainly to move from place to place; from home to the workplace; from the workplace home; from home to the shops; from the shops back home again. A good part of the department's budget - about R59,8% - is spent public transport programmes. This amounts to R14,2 billion.
The department is committed to developing an integrated public transport system aimed at increasing transport efficiency and making improvements to existing services. In line with the department's commitment, National Treasury added a further R6,4 billion for public transport roads and rail networks.
I, myself, have been travelling by public transport, namely the train and bus, since I was three years old. At about the age of five, I started travelling alone by bus and by train. I'm still using the system today.
One can imagine how old South Africa's transport infrastructure is and why an additional allocation over the medium-term includes
R100 million for 2010-11, and R500 million in 2011-12 to the SA Rail Commuter Corporation for passenger rail infrastructure.
There is excitement in the country at present, as you indicated, Deputy Minister, about the 2010 Fifa World Cup. As the acting director-general, there is one deputy director who has been appointed to deal with this issue. I'm hoping that the department wants to leave a lasting legacy with this event. New development must not only cater for 2010, but also benefit our people.
As hosts of the Confederations Cup, in preparation for the 2010 event, we got a scoring of 7,5 - not just 7 - out 10 from Fifa President Sepp Blatter. One of the reasons for this score had to do with transport and the problems that we experienced, as you have mentioned, with the park-and-ride system.
Signage for us, as deaf people, is important. We need to know where people are going, and we would like the department to help the Local Organising Committee, LOC, to arrange for signage, please. That is important, especially at the park-and-ride sites at the stadiums. We, as deaf people, need an improvement in that regard.
What is important for us as the portfolio committee is for us to be in a state of readiness. We need to know, especially in the host cities, where the transport is going and where the stadiums are. This is especially important for the base camps; we need that signage.
What is important for me to mention here is that all modes of transport must be accessible for disabled people, and that is the bottom line. [Applause.] It is mentioned in the White Paper on the Integrated National Disabilities Strategy that the rapid mode of transport must be flexible and accessible, otherwise people with disabilities will continue to remain marginalised and not be visible. Lack of accessible transport is a serious barrier. We need full access to infrastructure and full integration into society.
In 2008, we ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, as well as it optional protocol. We stated that we need to promote, protect and ensure that we have full access to and enjoyment of all human rights as disabled people. One of the key areas mentioned in that convention is accessible transport.
In March 2007, Cabinet approved the public transport strategy and action plan, and the Department of Transport provided a document on the implementation strategy to give guidance on accessible transport in South Africa. That document was up for discussion and was discussed in 2007. Phase 1 of this action plan talks about various projects that need to be focused on for 2011.
I now come to planning action. The planning process needs to be fully accessible. For example, corridors need to be fully accessible and there should be guidelines and specifications for our BRT system.
Before I conclude, I'd like to recognise Vincent Daniels who is blind and is from Disabled People SA, DPSA. I've known him for a long time. He's been lobbying for accessible transport. Welcome to the House, Vincent. [Applause.]
The document that I just spoke about is now out for consultation and comments, and the closing date for such is 31 July 2009. I hope that the disability sector takes note of that. We need to be updated on the document regarding the implementation of policies to make transport accessible to all people. I know that the Department of Transport is in the process of making sure that the new stations, for example, are accessible, but we need to do much more.
I have experienced lots of difficulties during my train travels, and it is degrading when a person in a wheelchair cannot get into or off a train and has to ask for assistance – it's totally degrading. We have to look for assistance and sometimes there is nobody around. I think we should not allow that to continue. So, I would like the department to accelerate the process of making South Africa's transport system accessible to all. Hon Chairperson, we, as the ANC, support the Budget Vote. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
Mr M S F DE FREITAS / END OF TAKE
Ms W S NEWHOUDT-DRUCHEN
Mr M S F DE FREITAS: Chair, I take this opportunity to congratulate the Minister and the Deputy Minister on their appointments; their respective experience in transport will no doubt put the department in good stead.
Three weeks ago, the World Health Organisation released the Global Status Report on road safety covering 178 countries and over 98% of the world's population. This study revealed that in South Africa has no regular audits on existing road infrastructure. A high quality road infrastructure is central to the economic prosperity of the country. A well-maintained road infrastructure allows people to get to work, children to get to school and just people in general to get around. A good road network also drives our economy.
Low levels of investments in infrastructure on our roads contribute to rising backlogs. Over R100 billion is needed on road maintenance. All studies, including those undertaken by the department, clearly show that it is much less costly to maintain roads than to completely rehabilitate them. We thus propose that you should launch a High Priority Roads Program, HPRP, to identify parts of the national, provincial and municipal roads networks with high maintenance and construction backlogs. This would eradicate backlogs in the medium- to short-term with a maximum time line of five years.
I further propose that the Department of Transport appoints a National Task Team to identify the unique problems confronting each province to determine what is needed to resolve them. Specialists from the department should be temporarily deployed to provinces to assist them to eradicate these respective backlogs. These specialists would work together with provincial staff, mentoring them and empowering them with the necessary skills.
Hon Minister, transport departments are incapacitated by the shortage of technically skilled people and often there are too few engineers to perform road maintenance and upgrading. Government should offer market related packages to skilled professionals, engineers in particular, as I mentioned, thus encouraging existing professionals to stay and to attract new ones into the department.
Underfunding is another big obstacle. Furthermore, we end up not spending funds; only when we do, to waste it on court cases, such as the over R6 million that the department had to pay simply because there were no clear road signs. Had the funds been used correctly in the first place, the department would not have had to spend this money on such legal battles.
The DA proposes that a dedicated Road Infrastructure Fund be established to reallocate funds sourced from fuel levies towards the construction and maintenance of roads. These funds should be ring-fenced to eradicate the current backlogs and make further investment towards building new roads to increase the road network.
Government should compliment this dedicated fund by offering tax rebates to companies that invest in road infrastructure. This would entice businesses to invest in such infrastructure.
As mentioned before, the state of rail infrastructure has a direct bearing on roads. Public confidence in rail transport has declined due to particularly poor safety and inefficiency. As a result, the public and business community resorts to transporting themselves and their goods on roads. This in turn leads to frustrating traffic congestion and overloaded vehicles putting a strain on our already overburdened roads. A truck that is for example 10% overloaded causes more than double the damage of a legally loaded vehicle amounting to billions of rands of damage per annum. Improving our rail infrastructure will incentivise usage thereof, thus getting the transporting of goods and people off our roads. This in turn then preserving our roads much longer.
Toll route companies have collected R3,6 billion in the last three years from motorists, yet their infrastructure spending remains disappointingly low with a mere R1,6 billion. Current infrastructure investment levels by toll companies should be reviewed to reflect the size of their profits. In future, new agreements should include a clause compelling all toll companies to contribute for example at least 20% of their profits to infrastructure development until the backlogs are eradicated. There should be incentives for these companies to do this as the quicker they do it, the better it is for them and the greater for their profits in the long run and so everyone scores.
Hon Minister and Deputy Minister, my colleague, shadow minister Stuart Farrow and I are passionate about transport and the economic and social impacts it has on South Africa. This portfolio simply cannot be politicised as too much is at stake. I was rather disappointed to see some politicisation at our last portfolio committee meeting and I trust the chair to ensure that we work towards our common goal without the obstacle of politics. [Applause.]
Mr E M MLAMBO / END OF TAKE
Mr M S F DE FREITAS
Mr E M MLAMBO: Chair, hon Minister, hon Deputy Minister, other Ministers present, hon members; director-general of the department, deputy director of the department and members of the department; distinguished guests, comrades and friends. As we are debating today on Budget Vote 33 on Transport, we understand, as the ANC, that a lot needs to be done to improve the lives of all South Africans so that they can be in a position to reach their destinations through affordable means of transport.
Mine is not to make a speech, Comrade Chairperson, but I would like to conquer with hon De Freitas, to say that although we are in politics, I believe that in the portfolio committee that we are in - Transport - we are very serious in terms of seeing that we deliver the best service to the people who put us in Parliament. I believe that there has been a mistake made by hon Poho, as the Member of our committee; he actually put forward an irrelevant issue that has been dealt with by the Department of Health - the issue of doctors. Ours is to deal with transport, so you will excuse me, hon Poho, we need to deal with relevant issues here.
As the African National Congress, we know that there are many challenges that we are facing as the country and the people when it comes to issues of transport, but at the same token, we should be proud of ourselves that the president of Fifa, Sepp Blatter has assured the world that South Africa is ready to host the 2010 World Cup. The construction work on our roads is seen as a problem by our people, but they need to persevere, because this is done for the purposes of developing our transport system in the right direction for a better life for all.
I would like to say to the hon Minister and Deputy Minister that we want to assure you as the portfolio committee that we will work together with the department. The department presented a good report to us. Director-General Mpumi Mpofu, we believe that we will not be fighting through this period, but we will work together in ensuring that we deliver to our people.
Ngibuyele kwelikaMthaniya ngithi-ke siyacela-ke ukuthi kwizinto enizikhulumile ninguMnyango izihloko eziyisikhombisa zohlelo enikhulume ngalo ukuthi nizinikeza lona ukuthi nizozibandakanya kulo. Nemihlangano nezinye izinto ezikhona ebenithe ziyohlangana nazo kuyothi uma kuhamba isikhathi kwenzakale loko.
Hon Minister and Deputy Minister, it is your field.
Mhlonishwa Ngqongqoshe neSekela lakho yindawo yakho leyo. Ubaba uNdebele ubuya eNatali uyayazi le ndlela useyihambile ibanga elide. USekela Ngqongqoshe uyihambile lendlela ibanga elide. Thina –ke sithi siyiKomidi lePhalamende Lezokuthutha ngoba sinikezwe igunya abantu bakithi ukungamela iMinyango kahulumeni. Siyathemba ukuthi uma sibambisana sizokwenza okuningi futhi sizozoqhubekela phambili kulethemu yeminyaka emihlanu. Siyavumelana siwuKhongolose ngalesabiwomali. [Ihlombe.]
The MINISTER OF TRANSPORT / END OF TAKE
Mr E M MLAMBO
The MINISTER OF TRANSPORT: Chairperson, thank you very much to the speakers and parties that have participated in this debate and particularly in the spirit in which they participated. I am really, quite touched by that, because even in our dark past, this is one area where apartheid could not be implemented.
You could have separate hospitals, separate schools, separate residences and so forth, but there would be no separate roads for whites, there would be no separate robots for Africans and so forth. This is one place where apartheid was not implementable.
The spirit of the House, starting from yesterday, from the Minmec was that it is a doing department here to serve all our people, irrespective of whatever locality they are at, they will need transport and the spirit displayed by the House here is a very important beginning for all of us.
I will respond to some of the issues raised here. The issue of signage that Comrade Niewhoudt-Druchen raised, for example, I think those issues must be taken on board immediately, because the issue of ensuring that there is this equal treatment of our people no matter what must be noted. We should reach out and we really thank you for the input you have made.
I will just be making random comments. We have concluded as a Department the national, provincial and municipal network assessment of roads and the infrastructure required. Overload control is one of the major issues that we want to be concentrating on.
That is why the issue of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa Prasa, the issue of Rail has become so important to ensure that there is absolute efficiency at that level, so that we don't have freight companies preferring road because rail will be inefficient.
The damage to the country's economy is really not measurable, if you have got those massive trucks on the road carrying things that could easily be carried on rail and rail is where the country has already invested, if the rail is not used, it then lies idle whereas there is no shortage of the users of the road. We want to ensure that these efficiencies are sorted out by ourselves.
The issue of road safety, as we know from experience, is the issue that we can do something about. That is why, starting with the driving licences going through these demerits systems, we have spoken about it too long, we have spoken about the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences, Aarto, so that we do not clog our courts. We are through with the legal part of it and it's now going to be implementation. All of us agree that we must now go and implement that. If you know that the license that you have, is on loan to you and you keep on accumulating penalties, it is going to be taken away from you. There is no psychological difference between a driver in the Netherlands, a driver in Sweden and a South African driver. It is a well-known fact that there are dire consequences.
Suddenly you have got a car, but you need somebody else to drive you and that person will ask you, where are you going, why is it necessary for you to go there? A car is freedom and transport is freedom to move and suddenly you are deprived of that. It is a promise that we make to all our people in South Africa that from now on the demerit system is coming. The enforcement part of our road safety is now with us and we are completely committed to it as the Department of Transport, because we want to leave the hospital beds for people who are really sick, who cannot avoid being there but the person who is healthy and suddenly they've got the broken leg and so forth, is not acceptable. So there's complete commitment from colleagues, MECs, traffic officers and the members of the mayoral committees and in all municipalities there is commitment to ensure that you can do whatever you do but not in the city, not here.
As long as we take that attitude and say they can drive whatever they drive, but where I am in charge as a municipality or as a province, no. That would also go up to the province and say as you enter the Western Cape, well we don't know how you behave somewhere else, but as you enter Western Cape or KwaZulu-Natal, it is no nonsense and you know it. The behaviour changes accordingly and of course the consequence of the driving license is key.
We are excited and hopeful that the issue of the taxi industry is coming to an end now as an issue of conflict. During the campaign in Dutywa, people raised the issue of the Bus Rapid Transit System, BRT, to the President as their concern. There will be no BRT in Dutywa for the next 50 years but people are complaining about it.
We really want to close that chapter and acknowledge the taxi industry as a critical component of the public transport system. It carries quite a lot of our people - more than 60% of our people. We are encouraged by the way we have engaged with them before 11 June up to now and even by the way they have prepared for the process of the joint working group which starts on 6 July which is on Monday. I was told yesterday that the taxi industry was making a joint submission of their names and so forth, who are going to participate in this process.
That process is such that the people from government side will be decision makers, from the National Department of Transport, Provincial Department of Transport and the affected cities, these will be decision-makers, similarly from the taxi industry these must be decision-makers.
They will take decisions that are very popular and they will take decisions that are not quite so popular, but they must not be disowned. You cannot have this side of people and we agree with them and suddenly you say: no, it's not this, but the other.
The type of leadership I have seen at national level and the leadership that we have engaged with in the taxi industry give us the confidence that we will reach an agreement with them. We know that this agreement will stick.
We really want to appreciate their presence here and their participation. We look forward to next week to start the process and by the end of August we will have an interim report. We will really have concluded that part of it by October. This process does not mean that Mayor Masondo's process, which is on track in Johannesburg, stops until the full agreement and dotted lines and everything; the process goes on, but we ensure that the full participation and consultation is on.
We are not worried about limiting, because none of us want to say the taxi industry will be limited to this and that the taxi industry will not be limited. Just like when dealing with farmers, you say you produce milk and you have nothing to do with yoghurt, you have nothing to do with butter. You participate according to your capacity and you move on and we who are committed to Black Economic Empowerment will ensure that we encourage the industry because it is one of the few industries, particularly the black people which brings something to the table.
Three vehicles, seven vehicles, and you don't just come up with the BCom Degree and assume that you will be a director without working. Your name will not just be included as a director if you have done nothing. They come with something already and they have operated under very difficult conditions in the past. Now you have got your industry, your own people that you are serving and you also have your government. The government will not interfere or restrict the full participation in the economy of our country and beyond. I think we have a very good start in that process.
Finally, I really want to say that I am very appreciative of the spirit in the House and also of the spirit of the extended Minmec that went on yesterday from the provinces and the affected cities, all twelve of them. As we roll out for the 2010 World Cup, we know that even the soccer league has been shortened so that we will have a number of dry runs for the World Cup. We also want to have a lasting legacy for South Africa which is going to be efficient, affordable and safe transport in our country. Thank you for your participation and let us get ready to move our people. Thank you. [Applause.]
The Committee rose at 10:57.
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